Monday, June 28, 2021

First Humans in North America

 From Futurity:

The first humans may have arrived in North America more than 30,000 years ago—nearly 20,000 years earlier than originally thought. Researchers made the discovery while studying the origins of agriculture in the Tehuacan Valley in Mexico. As part of that work, they wanted to establish a date for the earliest human occupation of the Coxcatlan Cave in the valley, so they obtained radiocarbon dates for several rabbit and deer bones collected from the cave in the 1960s as part of the Tehuacan Archaeological-Botanical Project. The dates for the bones suddenly took the researchers in a different direction with their work.

As reported in the journal Latin American Antiquity, the date ranges for the bone samples from the base of the cave ranged from 33,448 to 28,279 years old. Even though previous studies had not dated items from the bottom of the cave, researchers were not expecting such old ages. The findings add to the debate over a long-standing theory that the first humans crossed the Bering Land Bridge into the Americas 13,000 years ago.

“We weren’t trying to weigh in on this debate or even find really old samples. We were just trying to situate our agricultural study with a firmer timeline,” says Andrew Somerville, an assistant professor of anthropology in world languages and cultures at Iowa State University.

“We were surprised to find these really old dates at the bottom of the cave, and it means that we need to take a closer look at the artifacts recovered from those levels.” (Read more.)


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