Monday, March 1, 2010

New route, much earlier migration to America?

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U.S. anthropologists hypothesize that ancestors of aboriginal people in South and North America followed High Arctic route


Complete article

Two U.S. scientists have published a radical new theory about when, where and how humans migrated to the New World, arguing that the peopling of the Americas may have begun via Canada's High Arctic islands and the Northwest Passage -- much farther north and at least 10,000 years earlier than generally believed...

The idea of an ancient Arctic migration as early as 25,000 years ago, proposed by University of Utah anthropologists Dennis O'Rourke and Jennifer Raff, would address several major gaps in prevailing theories about how the distant ancestors of to-day's aboriginal people in North and South America arrived in the Western Hemisphere.

The most glaring of those gaps is the anomalous existence of a 14,500-year-old archeological site in Chile, near the southern extreme of the Americas, that clearly predates the time when East Asian hunters are thought to have first crossed from Siberia to Alaska via the Bering Land Bridge at the end of the last ice age some 13,000 years ago.

The new theory also may have implications for a lingering Canadian archeological mystery. For decades, the Canadian Museum of Civilization has stood largely alone in defending its view that the Yukon's Bluefish Caves hold evidence of a human presence in the Americas -- tool flakes and butchered mammoth bones -- going back about 20,000 years...

Using skin boats and hunting along glacier-free refuges while the last ice age was still underway, the prehistoric travellers could have moved quickly along the northern Siberian coast to northern Alaska, Canada's Arctic Islands and beyond to eastern and southern parts of the Americas, they say...

In recent years, the routes and timing of New World migration have been among the most contentious issues in science.

The Siberia-to-Alaska pathway for early hunter-gatherers, followed by a southward migration down a mid-continental "ice-free corridor" in present-day Northwest Territories and Alberta, is widely accepted and backed up by numerous archeological findings.

But a growing number of scientists, troubled by the age of the Chilean site and other wrinkles in the conventional migration story, have recently touted the likelihood of an earlier migration by seafaring people along the Pacific Coast..

Equally puzzling is the fact that eastern North America has generated far more artifacts from the continent's first-known civilization, the Clovis people, than archeological sites in the West, where more relics would be expected.

Finally, DNA studies of current aboriginal populations -- which can provide evidence of the geographic origins and migration patterns of ancient ancestors -- have been at odds with the conventional migration models...

In an interview, O'Rourke said the possibility of a very early northern migration is supported by recent research in Russia. In January 2004, a team of Russian scientists reported the remains of a 30,000-year-old human settlement near the Arctic Ocean outlet of Siberia's Yana River, the most convincing evidence ever found for such an early, northerly human presence near the Bering gateway to the New World...

2 comments:

Nena Revels said...

I find this very interesting and a huge possibility and will look into it futher myself.

Nena Revels said...

Thank you so much for the email.I am enjoying these articles so much.