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New evidence says humans were in America much earlier than we thought
30 April 2017, 01:20 | Kristen Gross
Jaw-Dropping Study Says Some Human Relative Was in California 130000 Years Ago
The new findings were published online today (April 26) in the journal Nature.
"This discovery is rewriting our understanding of when humans reached the New World", said Dr.
For decades, the prevailing theory for human migration to America was via the Beringia land bridge over the Bering Strait from Siberia, dating to around 13,500 years ago. But the mastodon fossils were embedded in fine-grained sediments that had been deposited much earlier, during a period long before humans were thought to have arrived on the continent, according to the museum. This is not that uncommon a find per se - we know early humans ate mastodons all the time.
Since its initial discovery in 1992, this site has been the subject of research by top scientists to date the fossils accurately and evaluate microscopic damage on bones and rocks that researchers now consider indicative of human activity.
Researchers say a site in Southern California shows evidence of humanlike behavior from about 130,000 years ago, when bones and teeth of an elephantlike mastodon were evidently smashed with rocks. But in 2012, James Paces, a uranium-dating expert at the U.S. Geological Survey, received the bones. No other tools or evidence of technology was found at the discover site.
It was a tidy theory, but one that's now in upheaval as more and more evidence has surfaced that humans must have come sooner, and over water. The dominant theory for decades was that the first people came to North America over the Bering Land Bridge between Russian Federation and Alaska when water levels were much lower during the Ice Age, about 13,000 years ago.
"How did these early hominins get here?"
San Diego Natural History Museum
After a radiometric study, it was determined that the remains are between 9.4 and 130.7 thousand years old. "As a effect, sea levels dropped dramatically, exposing land that lies underwater today".
"There is a lot of ignorance and arrogance about just how little we know about the Western hemisphere", said Goodyear, who was not involved in the San Diego discovery. "Hominins using watercraft could have followed the coast of Asia north and crossed the short distance to Alaska and then followed the west coast of North America south to present-day California".
And the archaeology mainstream is very unforgiving of researchers who challenge the accepted dates, said Al Goodyear of the University of SC, who's been working to prove for years that stone tools found in a SC site date to as long as 50,000 years ago. But whether it's a site with human interaction, that's where the question marks start coming up. Scale bars - 5cm (a), 2cm (b, g, h), 1mm (c, i), 2mm (d), 10cm (e, f).
The researchers even went so far as to conduct experiments on the bones of large mammals, including elephants, to study breakage patterns and determine how such fractures could be made by early humans.
"When we first discovered the site, there was strong physical evidence that placed humans alongside extinct Ice Age megafauna".
The scientists tested their interpretations on skeletons from modern-day elephants, going so far as to dig up buried bones that were "extremely fresh and smelled extremely bad", says study co-author Steven Holen of the Center for American Paleolithic Research.
"The bones and several teeth show clear signs of having been deliberately broken by humans with manual dexterity and experiential knowledge", stated Dr Holen.
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