Saturday, March 26, 2011

Evidence of people in Americas 15,500 years ago

Humans in North America earlier than thought
CBC News: The recent discovery of ancient tools in a Texas creek bed shows human settlers arrived in North America about 2,500 years earlier than originally believed... 'We have found evidence of an early human occupation... 2,500 years older than Clovis,' [said] Michael waters from Texas A&M University. The Clovis people -- once thought to be the continent's oldest human culture -- go back to about 13,000 years ago, which would make these newly discovered artifacts about 15,500 years old. Details of the excavation are published in the journal Science.

For many years, the Clovis people were thought to have arrived here from Northeast Asia by crossing the Bering Land Bridge, which once connected Asia and North America... But no Clovis technology has been found in Northeast Asia... Meanwhile, the Texas excavation has revealed blades, scrapers and choppers in the 20-centimetre layer of earth below where Clovis artifacts had previously been found.

The Toronto Star: North America's first settlers have long been believed to have arrived from northeast Asia... down through the ice-free corridor in Canada. But at 15,500 years ago, said Waters, the two ice sheets were merged. 'giving credence to the idea that people came along the coast... Tied up in those bones is a lot of evidence of where these people came from. We can begin to mesh the archaeological evidence with the genetic evidence.'

The new cache of tools, studied since their discovery in 2006, represent a lightweight 'mobile tool kit' used by hunter-gatherers who could pack them up and move... The site produced a 'continuous record' of people coming back season after season, said Waters... 'These tools are recognizably different from highly distinctive Clovis tools, although they do share some similarities... Clovis tools could have evolved' from them. That would make Clovis tools North American-born.

The artifacts woud have been 'maybe 5 per cent of the material culture these people had. All of the clothing, the hats, the perishable objects, the wooden tools, are all gone. Using techniques developed in the last 20 years, scientists were able to date the tools, said Steven Forman of the Luminescence Dating Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois. 'The possibility is that pre-Clovis is all around us, but we just can't recognize it yet,' he said.
Image source here.