Humans May Have Arrived in North America 10,000 Years Earlier Than We Thought

(SMITHSONIAN) y Lorraine Boissoneault, February 11, 2017 — A 24,000-year-old horse jawbone is helping rewrite our understanding of human habitation on the continent

The caves were hidden high above the Yukon’s Bluefish River, at the base of a limestone ridge in the middle of a sprawling wilderness. When a helicopter reconnaissance of the river spotted the caves in 1975, it may well have been thousands of years since the last humans entered them—or so hoped archaeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars.

Between 1977 and 1987, Cinq-Mars led a team into the remote wilderness, battling clouds of mosquitoes and cold weather to excavate the layers of sediment and bones. What he found was a game-changer.

At the time, the prevailing theory was that the Clovis were the earliest human inhabitants of the Americas, with sites across North and Central America containing their iconic spearheads. As early as the 16th century, Europeans proposed that a land bridge between Asia and North America might have provided the route for early human migration; by the 1940s scientists were actively looking for and finding evidence for the bridge’s existence. And in the 1930s, spear points discovered near Clovis, New Mexico were discovered to match the artifacts found in Beringia, convincing people that the Clovis came first, approximately 13,000 years ago.

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Source: Humans May Have Arrived in North America 10,000 Years Earlier Than We Thought | Science | Smithsonian