The people occupied North America around 11,000 BC. BC, but the exact timeline of how early people first arrived on the continent is controversial. Two new studies suggest that people lived in North America 30,000 years ago – some earlier estimates more than 15,000 years ago.
According to the traditional narrative, the first North Americans were big game hunters who crossed a land bridge about 13,000 years ago that connected Asia with North America. They left clear, corrugated arrowheads, as well as bone and ivory tools, which were called “Clovis” tools. “This narrative, known as” Clovis-first “, was widely accepted for much of the 20th century until new archaeological evidence showed that people were present on the continent before Clovis,”
Your new analysis shifts this date by several millennia. The study published in the journal “The Timing and Effects of the Earliest Human Arrivals in North America” nature, examines radiocarbon and luminescence data from Beringia, a region that historically linked Russia, Alaska and North America. A statistical model created from this data shows that a significant human population lived on the continent long before the Clovis era. According to the study, these people were likely present before, during, and after the last ice age maximum – the time when ice sheets covered much of North America 26,000 to 19,000 years ago.
These results also contradict the land bridge theory. Instead of taking a simple trip from Asia to North America and populating the southern half of the continent as the Clovis had assumed, the first people to have traveled to America might have traveled the Pacific coast. “These are paradigm-shifting results that shape our understanding of the early spread of modern humans to America,” said Becerra-Valdivia. “They suggest exciting and interesting opportunities for what is likely to be a complex and dynamic process.”
The second related study in nature“Evidence of the occupation of man in Mexico around the last glacier maximum” supports this new narrative. In it, researchers from institutes in Mexico, Great Britain and other countries share artifacts and environmental DNA that were discovered from the Chiquihuite cave – a high-altitude cave in Zacatecas, central Mexico. The tools, plant remains and environmental DNA collected there paint a picture of human life that was created 13,000 to 30,000 years ago. The evidence shows that the place was more than just a stopping point and that the people living there had adapted to the altitude and the rugged mountain landscape.
The two studies offer not only insights into when the first North Americans came to the continent, but also who they were and how they lived. America would have looked very different for people during the last glacier maximum than for the Clovis millennia later. The fact that the first North Americans left far fewer artifacts than the Clovis shows that their population remained relatively small. “The people in the Chiquihuite cave would have been exposed to the harshness of the last glacier peak, the peak of the last ice age, which would have kept their population at a low density,” says Becerra-Valdivia. “In contrast, the Clovis peoples flourished well after the last ice age and expanded far across the continent in a time of warmer global temperatures. Their lifestyles and patterns of existence would have been very different. “