Spreading of Homo sapiens [Image: created by NordNordWest, release into the public domain]
Spreading of Homo sapiens [Image: created by NordNordWest, release into the public domain]
Spreading of Homo sapiens [Image: created by NordNordWest, release into the public domain]

It is widely believed that humans first arrived in the Americas around 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. Discoveries at archeological sites such as Mesa Verde in Chile and Meadowcroft, PA have long supported this view.

At a dig in Southern California, possible traces of human activity from over 130,000 years ago have been discovered. Researchers at the site recovered the partial skeleton of a mastodon, an elephant-like animal now extinct. Broken rocks and broken bones were found nearby. They believe that this is evidence of human activity because the breaking pattern of the bone matches patterns from humans smashing bones with stones. Since the bones have been confirmed to be 130,000 years ago, scientists claim this discovery suggests humans were present in the Americas long before originally thought.

This claim is creating a serious controversy. If true, this finding would place humans in the Americas 100,000 years earlier than expected, leaving a gap in the archaeological record. Additionally, while humans have been using stone tools for over a million years, it is impossible to prove that the stones used at the site were used by humans. In order to validate this recent claim, human remains or flaked stone tools from roughly the same time period must be identified. Additional dating methods should also be applied to verify the age of mastodon bones.

Acknowledgments: Many thanks to Jeff Betz, Sarah Loomis, a G1 Archaeology PhD Student from the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, and Bridget Alex from the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, for providing expertise and opinions on this subject matter. 

Managing Correspondent: Bing Shui

Media Coverage: New Evidence Suggests Humans Arrived In The Americas Far Earlier Than Thought –  NPR

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