A newly released study suggests that the first humans arrived and settled in North America some 10,000 years earlier than currently believed.
The first American settlers have quite a disputed history. Various theories sprung up. But a commonly held belief holds as follows.
- The first humans to arrive in North America came from Russia.
- They crossed the Bering Strait.
- And they established the first human settlements on the North American continent.
- The event took place sometime around the last Ice Age’s end.
- It happened some 14,000 years ago.
- Or Not?
Now, a recently published study goes to contest this theory. A new Canadian study sets the date back by a further 10,000 years. As such, the first humans could have come to North America 24,000 years ago?
The current research is not as new as it may seem. Some 30 years ago, another archeologist made a similar claim. Jacques Cinq-Mars was an archeologist. He was excavating in the Bluefish Caves. These are situated on the banks of Canada’ Yukon region Bluefish River.
His proposal? Humans first settled in the area some 30,000 years ago. He explained his claim as follows. During excavations, he found animal bones in the caves. And then radiocarbon dated them.
Still, these discoveries were not evidence enough at the time. Neither was the fact that it was the sole discovery of its type. No further sites were detected in Yukon or its neighboring Alaska.
Now, a team of scientists went to re-test this theory. They also based their research on animal bones discovered in the Bluefish Caves. More exactly, 36,000 such fragments.
Research was carried out by Lauriane Bourgeon and Ariane Burke. They are part of the Universite de Montreal Department of Anthropology. Bourgeon is a Ph.D. student and Burke her professor. The two were also joined by Thomas Higham. He is part of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit.
Study results were released earlier this month. They were published in the PLoS One journal. The research paper was titled as follows. “Earliest Human Presence in North America Dated to the Last Glacial Maximum: New Radiocarbon Dates from Bluefish Caves, Canada”.
The aforementioned Bourgeon went to offer details. According to her 15 bone fragments showed “undeniable traces” of certain human activity. And around 20 others showed potential such hints. They could have been involved in the same type of activity.
Professor Burke released a statement on Monday. She declares as follows. The bones presented a series of surface lines. These are straight and V-shaped.
Their source has been linked to human activities. More exactly to their stone tools. The first humans could have used them to skin the respective animals.
Burke continues as follows. The current research confirms the previous theories and analyses. It can even go to demonstrate that the site is older than believed. More exactly, it could have housed the first humans to arrive in North America. It could be the earliest site known as of yet.
It also points out another fact. Eastern Beringia could have been inhabited during the last Ice Age. And not at its end, and it is currently believed.
Beringia is the name given to a large region. It is around and in the Bering Strait. This latter stretches from Northwest Canada Territories. It spans across Alaska. And ends in the Russia, by the Lena River.
Genetic studies have confirmed another fact. Some thousand individuals did live in the area. They were isolated both physically and genetically from the world. They could have inhabited the area some 15,000 to 24,000 years ago.
Burke points out Beringia’s isolation. During the Last Glacial Maximum, the region was blocked from North America. Steppes and glaciers isolated it from the rest of the continent.
This latest study confirms the “Beringian standstill hypothesis”. This states that the geographic could have corresponded to the genetic isolation. The first humans could have found refuge in the area.
Image Source: Wikimedia