First Americans
July 6, 2005 3:25 AM   Subscribe

Human footprints from 40,000 tears ago - evidence of the early colonization of America. New Scientist journalists tell us that this finding may overthrow the commonly held view that the first humans to arrive did so only 11,000 years ago. But this isn't the first time an earlier arrival date has been suggested.
posted by TimothyMason (12 comments total)
'years' - far more tears - and smiles - than that.
posted by TimothyMason at 3:27 AM on July 6, 2005

Nice arch. I guess people with flat feet just got eaten by saber-tooth tigers back then.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:59 AM on July 6, 2005

I think the only ones "commonly" holding on to the 11,000 years "Clovis" theories also may contend that the migrants were lead by a pillar of fire through the valley of the shadow of death.

Evidence has been mounting for the last couple of decades ever since the pre-clovis discovery in Monte Verde, Chile. Monte Verde of course is only dated to 12,500 to 13,000 BP, but its all the way down at the tippy-tip of south America. Kinda hard to be in Tierra del Fuego in 13,000 BP when you were only supposed to have crossed Alaska in 11,000 BP.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:03 AM on July 6, 2005

So, does this mean that the world isn't only 5,000 years old?
posted by Jon-o at 6:20 AM on July 6, 2005

I've seen BCE before, but what is this BP of which you speak Pollomacho? Before Plumbing?

[ Very interesting stuff this. ]
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:59 AM on July 6, 2005

"BP" = "Before Present". So BP = BCE + 2,000ish.
posted by nflorin at 7:22 AM on July 6, 2005

When I TA'd a Native American history class in college, it seemed "commonly held" that the first Americans arrived here 30,000-40,000 years ago.
posted by goatdog at 7:40 AM on July 6, 2005

One nice thing about this is that it seems much more aboveboard than most of the other claims; I remember one cave that was supposed to be indisputable--except that it was so far in the Brazilian rain-forest, on top of a cliff, over some spiny forest on a ridge, etc. that noone could get there. If these prints are readily accessible near Mexico City, and even better, if they hadn't excavated all of them, and if they've really made accurate notes of the prints, then at least this could prompt a fuller debate than other claims.
posted by goodglovin77 at 8:16 AM on July 6, 2005

there's an article in this month's Harper's (not yet available online) about early Americans and the divisions happening in the archaeological world around the evidence of humans arriving here before 13,000 years ago.

The author, Jack Hitt,writes about the theory that these people may possibly have been "caucasian", and the larger implications of that theory, esp. with regard to prejudice that may be ocurring. (i.e. 'white people were here first, so stop whining you so-called First Nations people!')

It's an interesting consideration.

He also talks about how facial reconstruction from skull fragments is mostly a bunch of hooey, and says more about the people doing the reconstruction than about the original owner of the skull.
posted by atlatl at 8:51 AM on July 6, 2005

...further digging revealed the remains of a 40,000 year old sand castle...
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:02 AM on July 6, 2005

goodglovin77 - ... that noone could get there

Perhaps the geography has changed since it was inhabited (for example, it was left undisturbed because a landslide/earthquake/whatever happened)?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:26 PM on July 6, 2005

atlatl - i read the article in question, and it would do good in discussion - perhaps a post is in order when it is online.
posted by iamck at 1:51 PM on July 6, 2005

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