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Did humans reach Americas 22,000 years ago?

Posted on Tuesday, 30 April, 2013 | Comment icon 57 comments

Image credit: PDPhoto

New evidence has been found which suggests humans reached South America far earlier than thought.

It has been generally believed that the first humans reached the Americas around 13,000 years ago with evidence building since the 1980s to suggest that colonization might have occurred slightly before that about 15,000 years ago. Now however the discovery of what appear to be stone tools at a site in Brazil has turned this figure on its head and opens up the possibility that humans had arrived on the continent as far back as 22,000 years ago.

There is considerable uncertainty over the find among scientists with many casting doubt on the accuracy of the claims. Some have suggested that objects that appear to be human-made tools could be created by rocks falling and breaking apart, however an analysis of the tools seems to indicate that they are made from a type of rock which can only be found over 15km from the site.

"Humans lived in South America at the height of the last ice age, thousands of years earlier than we thought, according to a controversial study."

  View: Full article |  Source: New Scientist

  Discuss: View comments (57)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #48 Posted by Abramelin on 14 May, 2013, 8:16
I read something odd in that article: The polar ice caps melted dramatically 8,000 to 9,000 years ago, causing sea levels to rise hundreds of feet and submerging the burial grounds of the skeletons. Stalactites and stalagmites then grew around the remains, preventing them from being washed out to sea. Can stalactites and stalagmites grow underwater?? That's a new one for me....
Comment icon #49 Posted by lightly on 14 May, 2013, 12:22
I didn't even see the second page! But ,right, the stalactites and stalagmites were there Before the water rose. on a side note : from what i can gather, Except for a huge ice shelf on the coast of 'Alaska' the Pacific coast of the americas remained Ice Free during the last Glacial Maximum??? during that time... 22,000 years ago???
Comment icon #50 Posted by Abramelin on 14 May, 2013, 15:12
The Laurentide Ice Sheet was a massive sheet of ice that covered hundreds of thousands of square miles, including most of Canada and a large portion of the northern United States, multiple times during Quaternary glacial epochs. It last covered most of northern North America between c. 95,000 and c. 20,000 years before the present day. At times, its southern margin included the modern sites of New York City and Chicago, and then followed quite precisely the present course of the Missouri River up to the northern slopes of the Cypress Hills, beyond which it merged with the Cordilleran Ice Sh... [More]
Comment icon #51 Posted by PersonFromPorlock on 14 May, 2013, 15:45
Here's a thought: bears, moose, bison and horses were all well represented in both the Old World and the New. If they could spread from one to the other, what could have kept early modern man from wandering here too? Or h. erectus, for that matter? I know, no evidence - but given the presence of other global fauna, any objection to human presence 12KYA based on either a lack of opportunity or obstructions like ice sheets that only humans, apparently, could not pass is not very convincing.
Comment icon #52 Posted by DieChecker on 14 May, 2013, 16:48
I've had that same question/idea...
Comment icon #53 Posted by Myles on 14 May, 2013, 17:23
Since you mentioned horses. Modern horses, zebras, and asses belong to the genus Equus, the only surviving genus in a once diverse family, the Equidae. Based on fossil records, the genus appears to have originated in North America about 4 million years ago and spread to Eurasia (presumably by crossing the Bering land bridge) 2 to 3 million years ago. Following that original emigration, there were additional westward migrations to Asia and return migrations back to North America, as well as several extinctions of Equus species in North America. The last prehistoric between 13,000 and 11,000 ... [More]
Comment icon #54 Posted by monk 56 on 14 May, 2013, 18:25
As North & South America was populated from Russia and as far as we know not across the Pacific Ocean, i find most of the myths of Sirius fascinating, a dog or wolf is often mentioned, in other areas we can think that this was by trade, but America is different. Cherokee native americans have a myth called "Two Dogs" that relate to Canis Major and Sirius, strangely similiar, please scroll down link:-
Comment icon #55 Posted by lightly on 14 May, 2013, 23:48
Ok , thanks Abramelin, i might have been reading some misinformation somewhere.. and maps showing an ice free pacific coast.. (except for Alaska) but , apparently that didn't happen until about 15,000 years ago.
Comment icon #56 Posted by Bavarian Raven on 15 May, 2013, 0:29
Some probably did. But most of them would have been a long the cost and those areas are now underwater. Making finding that "needle" in a haystack even harder :/
Comment icon #57 Posted by Everdred on 15 May, 2013, 1:26
The Topper site is definitely a Paleoamerican occupation site, but everything below the Clovis layer is of the ambiguous "maybe it's just a rock that looks like a tool" type. Goodyear had claimed that there was evidence of a hearth, but that in fact was not the case: (Quoting from ) But here's the official website of Goodyear's dig, with plenty more information if you're interested:

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