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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Footprints from the Past

Perhaps more convincing evidence of early human occupation of the Americas: archaeologists in Mexico have discoved several footprints preserved in volcanic ash and made by four to six individuals. Dating techniques seem to shatter the long-accepted date of arrival of the first Americans (full story here):

The layer of volcanic ash in which the 269 footprints are preserved has been dated by two different techniques - radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence dating - to between 38,000 and 39,000 years ago. Until now the earliest definite dates for a human presence in the Americas were 15,000 years ago. Given the location of the find, deep in the Americas, it makes it almost certain that humans must have first entered the Americas at least 40,000 years ago.

The find, coupled with research of prehistoric climate, is becoming increasingly important in determining approximately when the Americas were first populated and how.



Good article in Nature here.
Another from BBC News here.

Other blogs writing about the story:

Posted by Will at July 5, 2005 12:02 AM in Anthropology


How amusing. I thought and had learned that those holding what you call "long-accepted date of arrival of the first Americans" of 15.000 years (such as the Clovis theory) were actually long-dead. I suppose that "dinosaur" it's still alive since all "shattering" evidence has steadily come from "Latin America" from many decades now (and nobody "down" here teaches the Clovis theory as "long-accepted" nor as a "majority opinion"). Venezuelan archaeologists usually proudly exhibit their at least 16.000 years old Paleo-Indian artifacts as a sure thing. But Chile and Brazil are the ones with the long run.

Posted by: Daniel at July 5, 2005 01:01 PM