...detected human presence in the Americas as early as 14,700 years ago.
August 10, 2016 3:06 PM   Subscribe

How Did People Migrate to the Americas? Bison DNA Helps Chart the Way [The New York Times] “Two teams of scientists have succeeded in dating the opening of the gateway to America, only to disagree over whether the Clovis people — one of the first groups from Siberia to reach the Americas — ever used the gateway to gain access to the New World.”

“Using new methods for analyzing ancient DNA, the two teams of scientists have each developed ingenious ways to calculate the date at which the corridor first became fit for human travel. A group led by Peter D. Heintzman and Beth Shapiro [PNAS] of the University of California, Santa Cruz, regards bison as the ideal proxy for assessing human travel through the corridor, given that bison were a major prey of early hunters.”
posted by Fizz (12 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
in your FACE mayflower descendants
posted by poffin boffin at 4:00 PM on August 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


If they didn't use the "gateway" (I assume they're referring to the Siberia-Alaska land bridge during the last ice age) then how did they get here? I haven't heard anyone try to claim that humans that long ago had the ability to create sea-going ships. And presumably they couldn't fly.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:26 PM on August 10, 2016




If they didn't use the "gateway" (I assume they're referring to the Siberia-Alaska land bridge during the last ice age) then how did they get here?

Riding hover-bison across the waves?
posted by Hairy Lobster at 6:50 PM on August 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


You mean Sky Bison, obvs.
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:23 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't they have traversed the coast rather than using boats?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:11 PM on August 10, 2016


Yeah I just watched a Nova thing (Making North America: Human on PBS) a few months ago about this. Basically they suspect they made rudimentary canoe style boats with stretched animal hides and traveled the ocean and cost, setting up settlements and expanding along the way. (Don't cite me on it as it was about 3 months ago that I watched it.) Super interesting though.

So basically in areas where the coast was too covered with ice, they boated toward little islands and whatnot for coastal settlements and exploration.

The boat coasting starts about 10 mins into the Nova episode I linked.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:01 AM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


If they didn't use the "gateway" (I assume they're referring to the Siberia-Alaska land bridge during the last ice age) then how did they get here? I haven't heard anyone try to claim that humans that long ago had the ability to create sea-going ships. And presumably they couldn't fly.

It's this part:

Ten thousand years later, the glaciers started to retreat and an ice-free corridor, roughly 900 miles long, opened between Alaska and the Americas. In the middle of the corridor lay a body of water, 6,000 square miles in area, fed by the melting glaciers and known as Glacial Lake Peace. Not until the lake had drained away, and plants and animals had recolonized the corridor, would early peoples have been able to support themselves as they traversed the corridor between the glaciers.

Basically the corridor has to open up and be populated enough with wildlife to sustain a population of people. A lot of different things have to happen at roughly the same time, so some think a coastal route is more likely, especially if people were here before the corridor is likely to have been there.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:18 AM on August 11, 2016


If they didn't use the "gateway" (I assume they're referring to the Siberia-Alaska land bridge during the last ice age) then how did they get here? I haven't heard anyone try to claim that humans that long ago had the ability to create sea-going ships. And presumably they couldn't fly.

23000 years ago = humans cross Beringia and settle in Alaska
13000 years ago = some of them then come down the coast by boat
OR
12500 years ago = they come down the inland corridor

this is all in the first seven paragraphs of the linked article, by the way, which is a whopping Herculean read of 500 words
posted by Greg Nog at 6:56 AM on August 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


For anyone interested in this, I highly recommend the Out of Eden project - Paul Salopek started in East Africa and is following one of the main migration paths, on foot the entire way, with the eventual aim of walking all the way to the southern tip of Patagonia. He's in Kazakhstan at the moment.

I can't find the post he wrote about the slow spread of humanity a couple of years ago, but paraphrasing it had a long part where he talked about the actual rate of spread, which he theorised was a few dozen miles per human lifetime as populations grew, bands of hunter-gatherers shifted their circuitous seasonal routes and climate shifted and changed. It blew my mind, to think of so many thousands of generations of humans moving across the earth, leaving only the faintest of traces behind them.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:32 AM on August 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


What I find most interesting about this article is that apparently we can meaningfully argue about dates 13,000 years ago to an accuracy of ±500 years. I trust the science is correct for that, but it surprised me, I'd have thought everything was much vaguer.
posted by Nelson at 10:25 AM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


They just found a firepit on the Air Force bombing range, west of Salt Lake City, they date it to 12,300 years ago. The Native Americans themselves tell of how they got here. They have many stories, the Hopi claim the migrations started from their place.

Here is the firepit story.
posted by Oyéah at 11:56 AM on August 11, 2016


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