This is the sort of stuff we expect to read in Stranger Than You Think News. But here it is, soberly, from Ewen Callaway in Nature News:
Ancient humans settled in North America around 130,000 years ago, suggests a controversial study — pushing the date back more than 100,000 years earlier than most scientists accept. The jaw-dropping claim, made in Nature1, is based on broken rocks and mastodon bones found in California that a team of researchers say point to human activity.
Their contention, if correct, would force a dramatic rethink of when and how the Americas were first settled — and who by. Most scientists subscribe to the view that Homo sapiens arrived in North America less than 20,000 years ago. The latest study raises the possibility that another hominin species, such as Neanderthals or a group known as Denisovans, somehow made it from Asia to North America before that and flourished. More.
We all await further news. One issue that will likely arise is a legal, pragmatic one. It is assumed that ancient bones are those of native North Americans and serious disputes have erupted between archaeologists and apparent descendants of the deceased about who should take charge of the remains. If it turns out that other groups have occupied North America at various times and places, that controversy is likely to become much more complex.
See also: The search for our earliest ancestors: signals in the noise
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