Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Mystery Of The Colonisation Of America Has Finally Been Solved

Photos and x-ray scans of the rib, the spearhead and the complete artefact
The last ever continents on Earth to be colonised were the Americas. Only after humans had crossed the vast deserts of the Middle East, the mountains of Tibet and the cold wastes of Siberia did they reach the New World. Yet while this made the most geographical sense, the dates of migration were not conclusive. The discovery of a 11,500 year old, South American fossil skull, nicknamed Luzia, gave rise to another theory: that humans had crossed the Atlantic.

While this might seem far fetched, it was the only explanation for this anomalous date. Slowly the build up of fossil and archaeological evidence swung the scientific, and public view, towards the migration across the land bridge from Siberia to Alaska. A series of footprints which dated to 14,000 years old were found in North America which seemed to prove the land bridge theory correct. Yet their authenticity as human footprints was in dispute.

Now indisputable evidence has been discovered which, once and  for all, resolves this long standing argument. The evidence in question is a section of mastodon rib. Embedded within the fossil is a shard of bone that displays the unmistakable marks of having been worked on by humans. It is thought that the fragment was a spearhead. The fact that it is embedded within a bone which was once the flank of a mastodon, a large and obvious target for a hunter, backs up this hypothesis.

The remarkable piece was excavated from the Manis site in the state of Washington, USA in the late 1970s. Yet scant attention was paid to it until now. A collaboration between the Centre for GeoGenetics, Copenhagen, Denmark and the Centre for the Study of the First Native Americans, University of Texas AM, led by Dr Eske Willerslev from the Centre for GeoGenetics made a proper study of the artefact and dated the spearhead.

Their results were surprising. Using carbon-14 dating, they found that the weapon was 14,340 years old, nearly 3000 years older than the South American Luzia. Such a timespan would allow humans to traverse the length of the North and South American coast. The land bridge theory is also confirmed by the fact that, if humans had crossed the Atlantic, they would not have ventured into the harsh, cold winds of the North which were still in the thrall of the Ice Age, with vast glaciers as far south as the southern states.

Instead they would favour the warmer climates of Mexico and South America. The only explanation for such an old artefact so far north is if humans first entered the Americas from the north. The discovery also challenges the long-held theory that the first hunters in the Americas were the hunters of the Clovis Culture. The Clovis Culture existed 13,000 years ago and is known from numerous and beautiful, willow leaf shaped flint blades. This new find shows that the first Native Americans are 1000 years older than previously thought.