The Story of How the Americas Were Populated Is Radically Changing

About 13,500 years ago, the Clovis people wondered over the Beringia—which was the land-bridge that connected Alaska to Siberia. It was not ice covered at the time and had sufficient game to sustain them on such a journey. This is how it all happened and has never been disputed. Clovis artifacts have been found all over North America throughout the twentieth century, some have even been human remains.

This group of mysterious people managed to spread themselves rapidly all across the continent. They got their name from the very first discovery site located in Clovis, New Mexico which was excavated in the year 1932. Recent testing of their genetics has discovered a link between these Clovis people, Siberian populations, and even modern Native Americans. Even though they seemed to conquer a lot of territory, is it really true that they were the very first people to dwell in the Western hemisphere? This “Clovis-first” belief has been the most prevalent one over the last century.

Did Another Culture Arrive before the Clovis People?

However, during the 1990s and even the 1980s, there has been some evidence which may be casting doubt on this theory. Jon Erlandson, Ph.D, who is an anthropologist at the University of Oregon, recently admitted that this is “one of the last frontiers for archeology.” With new evidence of colonization throughout the late Pleistocene age, involving islands near the eastern Asia coast, which includes the Ryukyu Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago, archeologists are now wondering if a seafaring culture like this one could have made it to the Americas first.

New Evidence Supports a Previous Culture

Even more puzzling, there have been fossils discovered that pre-date the 13,500 year mark of the Clovis arrival which have recently begun to pop up throughout the Americas. For instance, there was the 2008 uncovering of petrified human feces in Oregon – which are 14,000 years old. And in Texas at a 2011 finding, there were 14,000 year old stone tools discovered. And in recent years, a site where the remains of a few butchered mastodons were unearthed – both of which predate the Clovis people arrival.

As might be expected, several experts are starting to back away from the original Clovis first theory, and are moving towards the new “kelp highway hypothesis.” This new belief states that these first people arrived via a sea route. It is believed that they followed what is called the Pacific Rim coastal corridor, starting at northeast Asia all the way to the Western Coast of America around 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.

During a new study, there were collaborative efforts administered by several American archeologists to seek out evidence to support this new theory. This group was led by Torben Rick from the US National Museum of Natural History.

“Understanding when, how, and who colonized the Americas remains one of the most challenging and enduring questions in archaeology,” Rick stated. The two intriguing questions have the identity of the culture to arrive in the Americas and by what mean did they arrive?

Discoveries during the last couple of decades have actually left archeologists, geologists, and paleontologists with even more questions than answers. But these scientists are now beginning to get a clearer understanding of how the Americas were populated. These findings have been posted in the publication Science.