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early North Americans

Three new studies “shake up” study of human migrants to North America

We used to think the picture was pretty simple but not any more: By sequencing and analyzing 15 ancient genomes found throughout the Americas—six of which were older than 10,000 years—these researchers determined that, around 8,000 years ago, the ancestors of Native Americans were still on the move, migrating away from Mesoamerica (what is today Mexico and Central America) toward both North and South America. These groups moved rapidly and unevenly, sometimes interbreeding with local populations, complicating the genetic—and historical—picture even further. George Dvorsky, “Three New DNA Studies Are Shaking Up the History of Humans in the Americas” at Gizmodo Apparently, they traveled “great distances at breathtaking speed.” Potter said genetic data is wonderful, but it doesn’t tell us the Read More ›

New find extends back our knowledge of earliest identified North Americans

Artifacts have been found from a group that may have contributed to the later and better known Clovis culture: “We have discovered two previously unknown spearpoint styles that predate Clovis,” says study coauthor and archaeologist Michael Waters of Texas A&M University in College Station. Finding these artifacts in sediment showing a clear progression from stemmed points to a triangular point to Clovis points over a roughly 2,000-year period raises the likelihood that one spearpoint style led to the next, Waters holds. Similar stemmed spearpoints dating to as early as around 14,000 years ago have been found in parts of the western United States (SN: 8/11/12, p. 15). Several spearpoints found at the Gault site in Central Texas, dating to 16,700 Read More ›

Texas inhabited several thousand years earlier than thought

From Bruce Bower at Science News: Excavations at the Gault site, about 64 kilometers north of Austin, produced a range of stone artifacts that date to between around 16,700 and 21,700 years ago, reports a team led by archaeologist Thomas Williams of Texas State University in San Marcos. An analysis of 184 of those finds identified 11 spearpoints unlike any others that have been found at ancient American sites, the scientists conclude July 11 in Science Advances. Researchers have long argued about whether people reached North America before the rise of Clovis culture 13,000 years ago. Evidence from the Gault site joins other recent reports of humans venturing deep into North America far earlier (SN: 6/11/16, p. 8), which would Read More ›