A new study published in the journal Nature has revealed the first ever genome sequence of an individual that belonged to the Clovis culture, a prehistoric culture that inhabited the Americas around 13,500 years ago. The study is helping to piece together Native American ancestry.
The genetic analysis was carried out on a male infant discovered in 1968, known as ‘Anzick boy’, who lived 12,600 years ago. He was found at a burial site along with about 125 artefacts, including Clovis fluted spear points and tools made from antlers. It is the oldest burial found in North America, and the only known Clovis burial.
Scientists investigated a prehistoric culture known as the Clovis, named after sites discovered near Clovis, New Mexico. For more than 20 years anthropologists have debated whether they arrived in the New World by walking over a land bridge across the Bering Strait, or by sea from southwest Europe millennia earlier, the so-called ‘Solutrean hypothesis’. There has also been debate over whether the Clovis were the first people to arrive in the Americas. For more than half a century, archaeologists thought the Clovis were the first, but recently, evidence has emerged showing that humans were in the New World before the Clovis. These controversies have made it difficult to piece together the true origins of the Native American population. However, the findings of the latest study help to resolve some of the unanswered questions.
The study found that the Clovis people are the direct ancestors of many contemporary Native Americans, and are closely related to all Native Americans. "We found the genome of this boy is closely related to all Native Americans of today than to any other peoples around the world," study co-author Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen
The DNA analysis also links Native Americans today to ancient migrants from easternmost Asia. This research "has settled the long-standing debate about the origins of the Clovis," Willerslev said. "We can say the Solutrean theory suggesting Clovis originated from people in Europe doesn't fit our results." Anthropological geneticist Jennifer Raff of the University of Texas, added that the study “is the final shovelful of dirt” on the European hypothesis.
The scientists also discovered evidence of a deep genetic divergence that occurred between northern Native American groups and those from Central and South America that happened before the Clovis era. Specifically, although most South Americans and Mexicans are part of the Anzick lineage and therefore Clovis, northern Canadian groups belong to another lineage.
However, not all experts are convinced. "We definitely have some stuff here in the east of the United States that is older than anything they have in the west," said anthropologist Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution, a proponent of the out-of-Europe model. "They've been reliably dated to 20,000 years ago," too early for migrants from Beringia to have made the trek, he said, and strongly resemble Solutrean artefacts.
The debate about Native American origins is far from over, but scientists hope the Anzick boy has yielded all his secrets:, he will be reburied in a traditional ceremony by early summer.
Lost Native American Ancestor Revealed in Ancient Child’s DNA
Study of 11,500-year-old bones offer surprising clues about the origins of New World genetic diversity.
A baby girl who lived some 11,500 years ago survived for just six weeks in the harsh climate of central Alaska, but her brief life is providing a surprising and challenging wealth of information to modern researchers.
Her genome is the oldest-yet complete genetic profile of a New World human. But if that isn’t enough, her genes also reveal the existence of a previously unknown population of people who are related to—but older and genetically distinct from— modern Native Americans.
This new information helps sketch in more details about how, when, and where the ancestors of all Native Americans became a distinct group, and how they may have dispersed into and throughout the New World.
The baby’s DNA showed that she belonged to a population that was genetically separate from other native groups present elsewhere in the New World at the end of the Pleistocene. Ben Potter, the University of Alaska Fairbanks archaeologist who unearthed the remains at the Upward River Sun site in 2013 , named this new group “Ancient Beringians.”
The discovery of the baby’s bones, named Xach'itee'aanenh T'eede Gaay, or Sunrise Child-Girl in a local Athabascan language, was completely unexpected, as were the genetic results, Potter says.
Found in 2006 and accessible only by helicopter, the Upward River Sun site is located in the dense boreal forest of central Alaska’s Tanana River Valley. The encampment was buried under feet of sand and silt, an acidic environment that makes the survival of organic artifacts exceedingly rare. Potter previously excavated the cremated remains of a three-year-old child from a hearth pit in the encampment, and it was beneath this first burial that the six-week-old baby and a second, even younger infant were found.
A genomics team in Denmark, including University of Copenhagen geneticist Eske Willerslev, performed the sequencing work on the remains, comparing the child’s genome with the genes of 167 ancient and contemporary populations from around the world. The results appeared today in the journal Nature.
Oldest Human Skeleton in Americas Found in Underwater Cave
“We didn’t know this population even existed,” Potter says. “Now we know they were here for many thousands of years, and that they were really successful. How did they do it? How did they change? We now have examples of two genetic groups of people who were adapting to this very harsh landscape.”
The genetic analysis points towards a divergence of all ancient Native Americans from a single east Asian source population somewhere between 36,000 to 25,000 years ago—well before humans crossed into Beringia, an area that includes the land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska at the end of the last ice age. That means that somewhere along the way, either in eastern Asia or in Beringia itself, a group of people became isolated from other east Asians for about 10,000 years, long enough to become a unique strain of humanity.
The girl’s genome also shows that the Beringians became genetically distinct from all other Native Americans around 20,000 years ago. But since humans in North America are not reliably documented before 14,600 years ago, how and where these two groups could have been separated long enough to become genetically distinct is still unclear.
The new study posits two new possibilities for how the separation could have happened.
The first is that the two groups became isolated while still in east Asia, and that they crossed the land bridge separately—perhaps at different times, or using different routes.
A second theory is that a single group moved out of Asia, then split into Beringians and ancient Native Americans once in Beringia. The Beringians lingered in the west and interior of Alaska, while the ancestors of modern Native Americans continued on south some time around 15,700 years ago.
“It’s less like a tree branching out and more like a delta of streams and rivers that intersect and then move apart,” says Miguel Vilar, lead scientist for National Geographic’s Genographic Project. “Twenty years ago, we thought the peopling of America seemed quite simple, but then it turns out to be more complicated than anyone thought.”
John Hoffecker, who studies the paleoecology of Beringia at the University of Colorado-Boulder, says there is still plenty of room for debate about the geographic locations of the ancestral splits. But the new study fits well with where the thinking has been heading for the last decade, he adds.
“We think there was a great deal more diversity in the original Native American populations than is apparent today, so this is consistent with a lot of other evidence,” Hoffecker says.
However, that same diversity—revealed through research on Native American cranial morphology and tooth structure—creates its own dilemma. How does a relatively small group of New World migrants, barricaded by a challenging climate with no access to fresh genetic material, evolve such a deep bank of differences from their east Asian ancestors? It certainly doesn’t happen over just 15,000 years, Hoffecker insists, referring to the estimated date of divergence of ancient Native Americans from Beringians.
“We’ve been getting these signals of early divergence for decades—the first mitochondrial work in the 1990s from Native Americans were coming up with estimates of 30, 35, even 40,000 years ago,” Hoffecker says. “They were being dismissed by everybody, myself included. Then people began to suspect there were two dates: one for divergence, and one for dispersal, and this study supports that.”
“Knowing about the Beringians really informs us as to how complex the process of human migration and adaptation was,” adds Potter. “It prompts the scientist in all of us to ask better questions, and to be in awe of our capacity as a species to come into such a harsh area and be very successful.”
O'Rourke, D. H. & Raff, J. A. Curr. Biol. 20, R202–R207 (2010).
Kemp, B. M. & Schurr, T. G. in Human Variation in the Americas (ed. Auerbach, B. M.) 12–50 (Southern Illinois Univ., 2010).
Goebel, T., Waters, M. R. & O'Rourke, D. H. Science 319, 1497–1502 (2008).
Gilbert, M. T. P. et al. Science 320, 786–789 (2008).
Reich, D. et al. Nature 488, 370–374 (2012).
Rasmussen, M. et al. Nature 506, 225–229 (2014).
Waters, M. R. & Stafford, T. W. Jr Science 315, 1122–1126 (2007).
Kemp, B. M. et al. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 132, 605–621 (2007).
Bolnick, D. et al. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. (in the press).
Raff, J. A., Bolnick, D. A., Tackney, J. & O'Rourke, D. H. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 146, 503–514 (2011).
Neves, W. A. & Hubbe, M. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 102, 18309–18314 (2005).
Stanford, D. J. & Bradley, B. A. Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America's Clovis Culture (Univ. California Press, 2012).
Pitulko, V. V. et al. Science 303, 52–56 (2004).
Tamm, E. et al. PLoS ONE 2, e829 (2007).
Dillehay, T. D. et al. Science 320, 784–786 (2008).
Misarti, N. et al. Quat. Sci. Rev. 48, 1–6 (2012).
Achilli, A. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110, 14308–14313 (2013).
Blank Fragments Deemed Worthless
An international team re-examined a collection of scroll fragments that have been held by the University of Manchester. These were donated to an expert from the University of Leeds by the Jordanian government, who believed that they were blank and therefore worthless. They were deemed perfect for testing, and later they were donated by Leeds to the University of Manchester. They are now held in the John Ryland Library, which is &ldquoone of the world&rsquos greatest repositories of Judeo-Christian texts,&rdquo according to Professor Christopher Pressler, its director, reports Manchester 1824 .
Roots & Recombinant DNA
MY 23ANDME RESULTS (DR. DOUG MCDONALD)
Most likely fit is 23.4% (+- 11.7%) Africa (various subcontinents)
and 58.6% (+- 12.2%) Africa (all West African)
which is 82.0% total Africa
and 18.0% (+- 0.7%) Europe (various subcontinents)
The following are possible population sets and their fractions,
most likely at the top
Bantu Ke= 0.370 Mandenka= 0.444 Irish= 0.186 or
Maasai= 0.130 Yoruba= 0.685 Irish= 0.185 or
Maasai= 0.159 Yoruba= 0.662 Russian= 0.179 or
O-Ethiop= 0.110 Yoruba= 0.718 Irish= 0.172 or
Maasai= 0.155 Yoruba= 0.666 Finland= 0.179 or
O-Ethiop= 0.130 Yoruba= 0.706 Finland= 0.163 or
Bantu Ke= 0.353 Mandenka= 0.460 English= 0.186 or
Maasai= 0.153 Yoruba= 0.668 Belorus= 0.179 or
Bantu Ke= 0.408 Mandenka= 0.409 Finland= 0.183 or
Bantu Ke= 0.371 Mandenka= 0.442 Hungary= 0.187
but the eastern European is wrong . it is plain British. The African is indeed
a bit “east of Nigerian typical”. And yes, there really is American at 1.0%, which is, as you see on one plot, rather hard to tell the exact nature of, but is typical of US Afro-(Euro)Americans. There is also a separate, and clearly real, East Asian of some sort, also at 1%. These two subtract from the European percent.
Native American populations are bound by their cultures, beliefs, traditions and genealogical histories so a DNA test can't be used to validate them. However DNA can be used in a broader context to confirm if we share genetic kinship with them and have ancestry markers similar to theirs. It may also help answer questions when your Native American rumors are unsubstantiated by a paper trail or probable tribal connection. Yet DNA testing is not foolproof and you must be careful about drawing conclusions without careful examination or evidentiary proof. In my personal situation I do have Native American DNA, which in part supports my family's stories of Native American ancestry. However this ancestry is farther back in my history than I expected based on my current ethnicity admixture estimates. I also have a separate Southeast Asian contribution, which I've recently learned is Malagasy (we have genetic matches from Madagascar). If I'd only tested at one company or didn't transfer my raw data to third-party sites I wouldn't be able to get a clear estimate of my Native American DNA contributions (remember my first AncestryDNA test showed less than 0.1%) and may have been dismissive of my family's oral history. I also understand that because my NA percentages are in the 1%(+/-) to 2%(+/-) range the DNA analysis can easily miss or not report NA in my ethnically diverse genome. This also probably means that neither of my grandparents had significant amounts Native American DNA based on my results. Nevertheless my Native American ancestors were definitely REAL, and I speculate a full blood ancestor existing in the range of 5th to 7th-great-grandparent if from my maternal grandfather with mtDNA haplogroup B2. Yet it is equally possible I didn't any inherit any NA DNA from this particular grandfather instead it could've derived from another grandparent, or both of them. The good news is our DNA results will change as the science improves and more Native American test! Meanwhile I encourage you to continue building your genealogical paper trail IMPORTANT:
exploring your genetic relatives from DNA tests (these matches could belong to a tribe) testing at more than one DNA company to get a range score of your potential Native American DNA, and to maximize your overall genealogical DNA experience. You must also test other close relatives and elders that are suspected to be the source of your Native American ancestry. Finally don't be afraid to accept the fact that Native American DNA is just not that into you. Good Luck.
Thank you for this post. Now I'm really curious as to see my daughter's origin results. I can't look at her maternal haplogroup because that would be mine (no NA here) I started to think I could test her brother from her Dad's prior marriage---no go for that as that would reflect his father's paternal line which is not where the Creek comes from. His father was half Creek and half black. It would come from His mother who was considered full Creek. It's going to be interesting to see my daughter's results. Great post. :-)
You're very welcomed NyOkieSue. I am happy you found the post useful. Since haplogroups represent such a narrow line in your family tree, testing your daughter's father or paternal grandfather USING AUTOSOMAL DNA testing will be helpful in seeing if your daughter's paternal relatives received any Native American DNA within the last 500 years. Good luck.
i did my dna , i was adopted , so only had info given me by that , i was shocked to find native dna , i was born in the uk , but where as 23andme say less than 1 percent gedmatch says the native is 1.39 , plus paleo siberian ans south asian , i am confused by all of this , i really need help but so far just gotten pooh hooed , no help just bs , i am desperate , i really need help but no where to turn
Jita'ame Your name looks Uralic (Finnish?), and your genetic heritage, if it is Uralic, could easily include deep ancestry from Paleo-Siberian or Ancient North Eurasian, which was ancestral to both later Uralic and Native American peoples. As far as the South Asian potion, that could be something either much, much older-- or--very recent: how strong is it?
This is the second post in a series discussing the recent publication of a 12,500 year old genome from Montana. You can find the first post here.
In the weeks following the publication of the complete genome from a Clovis child, there’s been a lot of press coverage of this study and its possible implications. I want to discuss a bit of the media coverage on this subject, since it raises issues that I think science journalists need to consider more carefully.
First of all, to recap the major findings of the original study (discussed in more detail at the link above):
1. Anzick-1, the 12,500 year old Clovis child whose genome Rasmussen and colleagues sequenced, is very closely related to living and ancient Native Americans.
2. Anzick-1 is more closely related to Siberians than other Eurasian groups.
3. Anzick-1 is more closely related to Central and South American Native American groups than to some North American groups.
4. The results from Anzick-1’s genome fit with the scientific consensus about the peopling of the Americas. This consensus encompasses the results of decades of archaeological, genetic, and paleoclimate research.
Unfortunately, several press reports chose to find controversy in a decidedly non-controversial story by giving undue weight to problematic “alternative” explanations of Native American origins, including the Solutrean hypothesis, and other “European contributions” to Native American ancestry.
Clovis tools from the Anzick site. From Rasmussen et al. 2014.
The Solutrean hypothesis rejects the consensus view by researchers that the ancient Native American Clovis peoples were descended from ancestors who lived in Beringia (who themselves were descended from ancient peoples who lived in Siberia). Instead, its proponents suggest that Clovis peoples are descended from a group of people living in France during the Solutrean period (21,000–15,000 years before present) who migrated across the Atlantic and spread westward across North America. They point to similarities in the stone tool technologies of the Solutrean and Clovis peoples as the main support of this idea. (These “similarities” in tool shape are vigorously rejected by most American archaeologists. I won’t go into a discussion of the details here, because that’s not my field, but if any archaeologists wish to in the comments, please feel free!).
In addition to extravagant claims based upon problematic dating and superficial similarities between tools, a serious problem with the Solutrean hypothesis is that its claim of an ancient European origin for Clovis also predicts that we would find a significant genetic contribution from ancient Europeans into ancient Native American populations. We don’t. All ancient and modern Native Americans possess mitochondrial (maternally-inherited) and Y-chromosome (paternally-inherited) lineages that are descended from those found in peoples of Siberia. They are not found in ancient or modern Europeans. Comparisons of bi-parentally inherited nuclear markers also show a close relationship between all Native Americans and Siberians, not Europeans.
What about haplogroup X?
X is mitochondrial haplogroup that has been cited as evidence of a trans-Atlantic genetic contribution. Some say that it’s evidence of a European migration, and others claim that it’s evidence of an ancient Israelite migration (including the makers of the 2011 documentary “Lost Civilizations of North America”). In the latter case, interviews of archaeologists, historians, and geneticists who work on Native American history and prehistory were edited to make it sound like they supported the idea that haplogroup X was evidence of a pre-Columbian migration of Israelites to the Americas. The scholars responded by writing a series of articles refuting the documentary’s claims in Skeptical Inquirer (“Civilizations Lost and Found: Fabricating History”). Specifically, in this article one of them (my current advisor, Deborah Bolnick) discusses haplogroup X, and I encourage you to go read it. The main points are:
–Haplogroup X is widely distributed throughout Eurasia.
–The particular lineage found in North America, X2a, is specific to Native Americans. It not closely related to X lineages found in Europe or in the Middle East.
–X2a is roughly the same age as other Native American-specific haplogroups (Perego et al. 2009), which fits a model of simultaneous expansion from a single source, and would not likely be the case if it was a much older lineage expanding from Europe.
The interpretation of X2a as evidence of a European genetic contribution is not accepted by geneticists specializing in the study of Native American origins. This was carefully considered as a hypothesis a decade ago by our field, and rejected based on a strong body of evidence. Many of us are mystified that it’s recurring now, given that it was thoroughly debunked so long ago.
Unfortunately, the majority of media reports about the Clovis child’s genome chose to give undue weight to the Solutrean hypothesis and/or his “European connections”. I saw two major types of this reporting. The first, like this Reuters article presented the debate as if there were equal weight to both sides, an example of false equivalency that we see quite often in science coverage of controversial topics (and which I explicitly tried to warn reporters against when I was being interviewed on the subject). The second, like this article in der Spiegal “Montana Boy: Bones Show Ancestral Links to Europe”, emphasized the Anzick-1’s genetic affinities with the recently published genome from the ancient Siberian “Mal’ta child” (Raghavan et al. 2013) as evidence of European ancestry. (They specifically suggest that he may have German ancestry). That they chose to do so is puzzling. Shared ancestry between an ancient Native American and an ancient Siberian individual from the Lake Baikal region is a totally unsurprising result and fits within our consensus models for the peopling of the Americas. But Spiegal’s interpretation of this as a “European link” to Native Americans is inaccurate. The Mal’ta individual shows shared ancestry with a broad distribution of Eurasian populations, not just modern Europeans. Furthermore, the Mal’ta child lived 24,000 years ago, and the genetic landscape of that time period was almost certainly unlike the genetic landscape of today. To say that the Mal’ta child was “European” is to inappropriately apply a modern description of genetic variation backwards to a time when genetic diversity patterns in Europe likely were very different: by that logic, it would be just as accurate to say that modern Europeans are “Siberian”!
Emphasizing the “European connections” to the ancient Native American genome seems at first glance to be a particularly bizarre approach, because the genome showed absolutely nothing new in this context it fit all expectations for what Clovis genetic diversity should look like if the standard migration model from Siberia to the Americas (via Beringia) was correct. So why did they choose to report it this way?
I think one possibility is that such alternative explanations are very appealing to reporters, as they evoke the concept of “lost civilizations” and add a touch of mystery and drama to what might otherwise be rather dry genomics papers. And it doesn’t help that we geneticists sometimes aren’t careful about thinking through the implications of emphasizing some aspects of our results over others. When we don’t provide appropriate anthropological context for our results, it’s easy to misunderstand them. What journalists may not be aware of is that there is a long and unsavory tradition in the United States–going back to the very earliest days of European colonization–of attempts to insert Europeans into Native American history. These attempts have taken many forms, as Feder and colleagues (2011) discuss:
“Even restricting ourselves to just North America, the list of such claims is long—though evidence is short—and includes: Celtic kingdoms in the northeastern United States thousands of years ago (Fell 1976) Coptic Christian settlements in ancient Michigan (based on the so-called Michigan Relics) (Halsey 2009) Roman Jews in Arizona (the Tucson Artifacts) (Burgess 2009) the Lost Tribes of Israel in Ohio (the Newark Holy Stones) (Lepper and Gill 2000) and strange mixtures of various ancient Old World peoples secreted in hideouts in the Grand Canyon in Arizona (“Explorations in Grand Canyon” 1909) and in a cave in southeastern Illinois (Burrows Cave) (Joltes 2003). These claims are predicated essentially on the same notion: ancient Europeans, Africans, or Asians came to the Americas long before Columbus and long—perhaps thousands of years—before the Norse they settled here and had a huge impact on the native people but then somehow became lost, both to history and to historians.”
This recent round of media attention is merely the latest iteration of a long tradition of emphasizing completely unsubstantiated hypotheses of European contributions to Native American prehistory. The fact is that they run counter to the consensus of over a century of research by hundreds of scholars in multiple disciplines. But that seems to be precisely what makes them attractive–the media is very fond of the story of the lone scientist (or group of scientists) radically challenging the dominant scientific paradigm. But they are doing so with complete unawareness—or worse, disregard—for the ways in which this narrative has been used over the past several centuries as a tool to de-legitimize Native Americans’ connections to their own history.
Some ideas that buck the scientific consensus are brave and new and bold and right, like the idea that Clovis peoples weren’t the first inhabitants of the Americas.
In this case, not only does speculating about European genetic or cultural contributions to Native American history run completely counter to existing genetic and archaeological evidence, it buys in to a long and unfortunate tradition of asserting problematic external explanations for Native American achievements. As Feder et al. (2011) put it:
“Native Americans were fully capable of developing complex and sophisticated cultures on their own without help from other societies. The archaeological record of North America clearly shows the indigenous development of the technologies, art, architecture, social systems, subsistence practices, and engineering accomplishments seen in native America. There is no archaeological or biological evidence for the presence of interlopers, and there is no need for their presence in explaining the archaeology of native America.”
Dear journalists, please delve a bit deeper into the history of research into American prehistory before trotting out discredited theories. Mavericks love to tout their iconoclasty as evidence that they’re right, but you know that’s not how science works. Ideas live or die based on whether they’re right or wrong, and the Solutrean hypothesis is simply wrong.
148 thoughts on &ldquo Problematic science journalism: Native American ancestry and the Solutrean hypothesis &rdquo
It really seems that journalists have their biggest problem with the idea of false equivalency across many different fields. It ties in so nicely with the idea that you have to “present both sides of the story,” when in fact, the search for accuracy requires no such thing. If an idea is junk, it deserves ZERO airtime or print space. I completely understand your frustration as a dentist, it’s hard enough to get people to understand how simple and well-understood oral health is, without all the crap that’s spread around, including in the media.
Thanks for the work you do to correct the problems, as well as your actual research.
Well said. Thanks for your comment!
Re ” But they are doing so with complete unawareness—or worse, disregard—for the ways in which this narrative has been used over the past several centuries as a tool to de-legitimize Native Americans’ connections to their own history.” So what? That sounds more like a normative statement than non-normative statement..
I am thankful you do your research. Our people come from the lineage of Peleg. Before the whites came our people were completely Mongoloid. Native Americans are closely related to Mongolians and Tibetians. The modern white mixtures that are prevalent among Native Americans only came after crisopher columbis. God Bless You for the truth! Peace/ShalomLarry Moniz (@LarryMoniz) May 4, 2014 / 11:20 am
It appears Jennifer treats this blog as her own personal opinion site and doesn’t tolerate dissent as my opinion, posted yesterday, has vanished. Therefore, I’m reposting it in hopes she’ll be more courteous this time. Obviously, she’s not a journalist.
Sorry, but I’m one of the journalist Dr. Payet and Ms. Raff are attacking because you bothrefuse to come out of the dark ages. But first, I’ve been a journalist for half a century and my office wall is adorned with numerous writing awards from my peers, including more than a dozen for investigative journalism. I recently presented an Investigative White Paper that debunks several of the tired old-fashioned arguments of the ultra-conservative Archeological community. Here’s the summary from the reprint of that paper. It’s called Chasing the Beringia Land Bridge Myth and Finding Solutrean Boats.
“Where are the boats?” is the trump card used by traditional archeologists and anthropologists who seek to preserve the status quo and their reputations in the highly competitive world of academia. Since the 1930s, the Clovis First mantra has taken root and become such gospel that many scientists seeking Paleo-Indian traces ceased digging for evidence once such stone tools were found. After all, alleged knowledgeable researchers had established the Beringia Land Bridge crossing occurred 10,000 years ago. Scientific exploration of other fields began pushing back the Beringia Land Bridge time to 13,000 years and even beyond. The effort to prevent erosion of academians’ previous timeline assertions eventually resulted in the recent claim that Asian migrants sat at the crossing point from Siberia for 10,000 years waiting for a pathway to melt so they could head south through Alaska and Canada to eventually reach North America. Unexplained is how they could accomplish that without shelter, food or water.
“All that began to change when some researchers refused to sit still and began to dig below Clovis levels. The first such find was at the Meadowcroft Rock Shelter in Pennsylvania where pre-Clovis tools and projectile points were found that resembled those from the Upper Paleolithic era of SouthWestern Europe. But, the Solutrean Civilization that spawned them had vanished during the Last Glacial Maximum (Ice Age) in Europe, some 20,000 years ago. Soon archeologists were following the Meadowcroft lead and digging deeper. Smaller pre-Clovis points began to crop up from various sites stretching all the way to Florida.
“Larry Moniz, a multiple-award winning investigative journalist and author became fascinated with the topic. He put another project about Northeastern Woodland Indians on hold to investigate. Expecting a project that could take years, if ever, to come to fruition, Moniz, himself an amateur archeologist and member of the Society for Pennsylvania Archeology began his own research. In a matter of months his research revealed the Beringia Land Bridge Gospel was apparently a fraud perpetrated hundreds of years ago. In addition, he found evidence that suggests the first humans to arrive in North America did so by boat and they were Solutreans from the Iberian Penninsula.
“His resulting paper demonstrates, with photographs from historical sources and Museums in France and Spain that the Solutreans were apparently a seagoing people who fled the ice age and potential starvation and fled across the sea in the world’s first flotilla of ocean-going passenger vessels. While Moniz recognizes that his research will be challenged by the entrenched academics who have built their reputations on the Beringia Land Bridge Myth and Clovis First, he’s confident they will be hard pressed to refute his premise that those researchers now truly know where the boats were and where replicas exist to this day.”
I noticed Ms. Raff puts down all things Solutrean, saying: “rejects the consensus view by researchers that the ancient Native American Clovis peoples were descended from ancestors who lived in Beringia (who themselves were descended from ancient peoples who lived in Siberia).” She avoids mentioning that two of the foremost exponents of the theory are also two of the world’s top researchers, Drs. Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford. Stanford is an archaeologist and director of the Paleoindian/Paleoecology Program at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum in the world a likely the most prestigious.
Bradley is Professor of Prehistory at the University of Exeter and has several international institutional affiliations including Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution, adjunct Professor at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD and Adjunct faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India.
Yet, among the first things Ms. Raff and Dr. Payet ignore the credibility of those esteemed archeologists so they can maintain the “consensus” view of Beringia and Clovis First. They also ignore all the pre-Clovis findings in various parts of the U.S. and the virtually complete lack of Clovis Points in Alaska, western Canada and the western United States. They also ignore the ever changing, increasingly earlier, dating for the alleged Beringia Migration because it fails to conform to the consensus. Remember, according to an old joke, a camel, perhaps also an elephant, were animals designed by consensus.
In the months of research into Solutrean migration, I discovered some interesting facts. The Beringia Myth appears to stem from a politically based fraud. Beringian description allegedly was included in the first edition of a book by Jesuit Missionary Jose deAcosta who wrote the book after 15 years researching in SOUTH America. How he managed to allegedly right about the topic 138 years before Vitus Bering explored the straits is an ongoing mystery. I look forward to an explanation one day from the Jesuits who were trying at the time to gain control of South America. My paper contains all the appropriate citations to verify my assertions. Such a disparity leads one to wonder how the Beringia myth remains alive. According to a major Texas educational institution, it’s because textbook publishers continue to include the misleading information in new books.
Dr. Michael B. Collins, Research Professor in Anthropology at Texas State University codirects the world-renowned Gault archaeological site in Central Texas. He was challenged by a colleague to “show me the boats.” I found the challenge fascinating. Why the “consensus” argues the existence of the boats seems trivial as even older ocean-voyages have been established to Australia and Polynesia. Also Thor Heyerdahl sailed west across the Pacific on a raft in 1949, thereby proving such voyages possible.
During my research, I discovered the boats. Specifically, they are depicted on paintings simply described as “black signs” by the Spanish Museums. But, they clearly show large wooden-hulled boats, some displaying sail. In a similar attempt at subterfuge immediately after I delivered my paper at the Society for Pennsylvania Archeology Conference in early April, I was approached by a man who failed to introduce himself. His only comment was a challenge: How could they have fastened boards to the boat before invention of nails. He then turned and walked away before I had an opportunity to answer.
It’s quite simple. The boats were built in a fashion similar to American Indian Longhouses, with a frame of rib to which squares of bark were tied and the who thing sealed with Pine Pitch. It would have provided an even sturdier method for crossing the North Atlantic than even the animal-skin boats Bradley and Stanford advanced.
By now, I assume many of the readers here have heard that consensus was reached on the Monte Verde site in Chile. It’s now conceded that site predates the alleged Beringia migration by, if memory serves, a thousand years. In addition, all those migrants apparently raced through North America, Mexico and Central America then the length of South America to become established in Chile. Ha! Even Einstein would have disbelieved that speed of light claim.
The most disturbing part is not that the scientist got it wrong with regard to Beringia, but that many built their reputations on an illegitimate hypothesis and refused to accept any contradictory evidence. Hence, thousands of students have received inaccurate educations involving one of the main issues of America’s exploration.
Research is less a philanthropic activity than a business. College professors and private industry researchers are paid for their work first by the employing institutions, then by the academic book publishers that publish their works. Obviously, there’s little market for dozens of books that contain major factual errors by the authors.
So in a few months you uncovered evidence that escaped the archaeological community for decades? That’s impressive, if true. I have my doubts, since your claim rests on the assumption of massive corruption on the part of all the scientists who disagree with you.
Assume, for the sake of argument, that the mainstream scientists aren’t stupid or corrupt. What is their basis for disagreeing with you under that assumption? From an objective standpoint, what’s the strongest argument against your position?
He didn’t claim to uncover all of that himself. I’ve actually heard of several of the points he was making. I’m not convinced of the Solutrean Hypothesis however, I have never heard a solid argument against it instead, i have heard stuff like the straw man argument you just made.. So, fare the recent DNA analysis is the best but it really disprove it. There could have been to migrations after all. I suspect, a small population did cross the Atlantic and was wiped out by the Atlantic.
I am interested in the opinions of people who are both archeologist and flint nappers and than just archeologists.
I don’t mind having dissenting opinions posted here. It’s possible that the spam filters caught yours–if so, I apologize. EDITED TO ADD: Larry, I searched my spam folder and didn’t find a single comment from you. Are you sure you posted one? Would you please recap it for us?
What journal is your paper published in?
You’re quite right that I’m not a journalist–I’m a scientist. And this is my personal blog, so…yes, I publish my opinions here. That is what one does on blogs. I’m not sure why you are outraged by that.
There’s no need to be formal on my blog, so calling me Jennifer is just fine. But if you prefer using titles, mine is “Doctor”, not “Ms.”
Our “journalist” makes a lot of errors in grammar and spelling, especially for someone, as he says,so reknowned in his field.
I find your position on X2a puzzling. X2is not widely distributed throughout Asia. It is almost exclusively located in Western Eurasia, the middle east and North Africa.
It is found in the Altai region, but in the history of the Haplogroup this a relatively recent occur ancestry.
Phylogeographic analysis places it origin firmly in the middle east. Perhaps localized around the Gulf oasis during the last ice age. From their, populations carrying the basal X2-225 expanded outwards. Apparently into anatolia, Iran and some evidence suggests through North Africa during the LGM.
There is no evidence of this X2 haplogroup in Eastern Eurasia/Siberia ever during Paleo or Neolithic times. It is assumed to be, because the Beringia only models requnrest it to be so. BUT a model must fit the data the DATA drives model formation not the other way around. IF the data and the model do not fit the model needs to be changed.
That is Scientific method 101, your training should have taught you that truism. It is fairly central to doctoral training in the sciences.
Please question your assumptions. It is false logic supporting the idea that X2 entered the America’s via Beringia.
Mind you, sequences of X2a’j or X2-225- @153 may be found in East Eurasia. BUT that is not how the facts lie as of today. Absence of data means the base assumption is not supportable.
The history and prehistory of the Asiatic steppes features many catastrophes and violent wars that plausibly could have wiped out entire clades/haplogroups.
“It appears Jennifer treats this blog as her own personal opinion site and doesn’t tolerate dissent as my opinion, posted yesterday, has vanished”
She did no such thing so drop it.
“But first, I’ve been a journalist for half a century and my office wall is adorned with numerous writing awards from my peers”
Which means nothing in the world of the archaeologist. So what do you want from us a cookie?
“White Paper that debunks several of the tired old-fashioned arguments of the ultra-conservative Archeological community. Here’s the summary from the reprint of that paper. It’s called Chasing the Beringia Land Bridge Myth and Finding Solutrean Boats”
Actually it does no such thing. It uses rhetorical slight of hand to get the audience to think that there is evidence of a Solutrean connection when non exists.
“Where are the boats?” is the trump card used by traditional archeologists and anthropologists who seek to preserve the status quo and their reputations in the highly competitive world of academia”
Actually no this is not why we archaeologists reject the solutreans hypothesis. What we are asking for is evidence of a maritime tradition among the solutreans. The solutrean complex tool industry is highly indicative of a people whom hunted larger terrestrial land animals. In other words mammoth, wooly rhino’s, various types of deer etc. What we don’t see is a dedicated tool industry for hunting large marine animals. This would be something along the lines of toggling harpoons weights for nets etc.
The assertion of a solutrean connection to north America is based on a single projectile point that superficially resembles a solutrean biface. The problem with this is that there is not other indication of a material cultural link to the solutrean. In addition there is NO connection what so ever to older complexes such as the Miller, Nenana, Denali, Dyuktai or Clovis cultures and all the cultures in between.
As for boats one could easily point to a maritime relationship if one could show clear usage of said maritime tradition even without finding a boat.
For instance we know from Franchthi (Greek Φράγχθη) that the inhabitants were visiting the Cyclades as early as 15,000 BCE as we have found obsidian from Melos. Now we haven’t found a boat from that time period but the evidence infers that they had access to a boating tradition.
The same would be true of north America. We would expect to find Franco/Ebro, sources of chert indicative of usage among the solutreans. The only difference would be we would find this material in the Americas. Then you could infer such a connection. But no such inference can be made because the evidence doesn’t exist.
Now what bubbles are we going to claim that archaeologists are hiding the evidence?
This argument is completely ridiculous and is being held by laymen in genetics, archeology, sociology, and common sense. The “journalist” Larry Moniz must be imagining all of his accolades as his rebuttal is filled with so many grammatical errors and the complete misuse of words such as “right” when he meant “write” that one almost feels sorry for his display of buffoonery. That a journalist doesn’t even employ spell check leads me to believe this man is closer to being a grand wizard than a journalist.
Those who do not believe there is not enough information that debunks the Soultrean theory are simply not opening their eyes or mind. Firstly, something pointed our in the article that is rarely mentioned and is critical to the argument. Twenty-thousand years ago the genetic blueprint and differences between ethnic groups were far more similar than they are today. There were billions fewer people then, therefore the distance between genetic markers much shorter. It was also twenty-thousand years ago, and humanity was much closer to that original ancestor from the Sans people in the Horn of Africa, than we are today. Many of the environmental factors that make “Europeans”, European where only just settling in. twenty-thousand years ago. A simple look into the genome of a fair European shows when those markers began popping up around twenty-twenty five-thousand years ago. This is one of the major factors debunking the ridiculous Soultrean hypothesis. Europeans were not really Europeans yet. Also those calling it a Soultrean theory, do not understand scientific epistemology. The hypothesis was never able to stand up to the rigors of scientific testing and investigations therefor never became a theory. and a far from fact as an idea can be.
Now to the trip across the Atlantic. I’ll be quick because the level of ignorance over this matter, especially by the quack journalist defending his shoddy work, is staggering. How some Europeans will do anything to be the breadbasket of humanity is simply embarrassing.
It is 4000 miles from France to the mid-coastal region of the U.S. Most Soultrean fanatics like to say the journey was made by Ice, and boat, because they know how ridiculous it is that a group of humans made a sea-faring boat 20 thousand years ago, even though none have been discovered in the entirety of the world within even 10 thousand years of this supposed journey. The problem with the ice theory is this there was no ice. People that know even less about global climate conditions will swear that it’s possible the ice was easily as far south as France, twenty-thousand years ago, however at that time the globe was in a warming cycle and the ice caps were at the same positions as in Europe’s last cold spell in the “Dark ages”. Most people believe the Ice age is over, but in truth, we are still currently in the last Ice age, and have been for a good 200 thousand years. We have cycles called “glacials” but not a beginning or end of an ice age. 20 thousand years ago we saw the warmest influx in over 200 thousand years, and there was no ice stretching across the Atlantic.
Finally let’s say that all of this was possible. And that these evolutionary marvels out of Europe actually made this open sea voyage of four thousand miles across the Atlantic, 19 thousand years before the master ship builders constructed the first Langskips that could actually cross open ocean. Where are these giant vessels, but more so, what did they eat, and even more so, where did they put the hundreds of thousands of gallons of fresh drinking water and what did they put them in? and why haven’t we found a single one of these containers that would have to number in the thousands to make the journey?
They didn’t. The pains European elitists will go to attempt to erase entire cultures achievement’s and heritage never ceases to amaze me. Larry Moniz, you’re an embarrassment to your craft and race. The human race, the only one that exists.
It is a side issue, but your remarks about ancient seafaring are inaccurate. The first Australians had to cross open sea, albeit a little over a hundred miles not a few thousand, and they made the crossing 60,000 years ago according to current thinking. The colonisation of the Pacific was under way by 4000 BC, so the Langskips were not the first.
And what you consider “ridiculous” is not necessarily a good guide to the capabilities of ancient humans. It was once considered “ridiculous” that they might have been responsible for the ice age cave paintings at Altamira, these being regarded as obvious forgeries. The archaeologist who was most vocal in denouncing their discoverer as a fraud later admitted his error under the heading “Mea culpa of a sceptic”.
That ,000 years ago” number is in constant Flux, & changes every time one turns around. This means sea levels could be drastically different depending on when the Australian voyage was actually made. This means the entire journey could have been accidental, as multiple scholars have remarked. The absolute truth is we have no idea how the first humans made it to Australia for you to accuse my remarks on seafaring to be “inaccurate” while siting an event that no human being on earth can uncover the truth about, is utter nonsense. In fact your own argument invalidates itself? Yawn… My remark remains as valid as it was nearly two years ago. And yeah… 100 miles journey between islands, is not “seafaring”, but 4000 certainly is & it didn’t happen. Lastly, that you would write paragraphs over the flippant use of an adjective in a comment section online, is as ridiculous as it gets. This isn’t the New York Times. I’m not sure how you manage yourself, but better luck next time.
Thank You Mr. Moniz. I was starting to think I fell down the rabbit hole…lots of smug, all-knowing individuals whose all consuming belief in the status quo is hard dying…the same mentality that put some scientists in prison in our not so far away past.
I have to say much of the commentary on the pre-clovis, clovis, solutrean connection sounds much like the old debate about whether ‘modern’ humans bred with neanderthals, the answer was they did not and they had mitochondrial DNA evidence to prove it, we all came from africa no interbreeding, and that is the point, it actually proved no such thing at all, it proved that the mother mitochondrial lineage was not neanderthal…it required sequencing of a neanderthal genome to completely change that view into oh ya, there is a whole bunch of neanderthal dna and who knew a new species (denisovan dna) in modern human populations…
I have to say much of the commentary on the pre-clovis, clovis, solutrean connection sounds much like the old debate about whether ‘modern’ humans bred with neanderthals, the answer was they did not and they had mitochondrial DNA evidence to prove it, we all came from africa no interbreeding, and that is the point, it actually proved no such thing at all, it proved that the mother mitochondrial lineage was not neanderthal, simulateously researchers were aguing that some skeletons seem to show hybrid characters of neanderthal and sapiens, but after the mitochondrial results they decided to just ignore that evidence…it required sequencing of a neanderthal genome to completely change that view into oh ya, there is a whole bunch of neanderthal dna and who knew a new species (denisovan dna) in modern human populations…so the world view embraced by so many biologists was turned upside down…the reason was simple for this, the model that existed just wasnt that strong, but rather than admit that people dug their heals in….so coming back to the americas to the origins of the clovis culture….i have the same feeling thats also whats going on and we have many more secrets to be reveleaed with further finds and dna analysis…
I simply dont buy the idea the Anzick-1 ends the debate about the solutrean hypothesis and here is why…I simply think it demonstrates that most of the genomic contribution came from the siberian pathway, whetehr they walked or boated…and i think that of the 2 proposed pathways from europe or siberia the siberian one would allow the largest input of genes at multiple times into the americas, while the solutrean pathway only allowed smaller numbers of individuals to get to north america…so there is a non-equivalence in the numbers of individuals from each pathway, how do we know the anzik individual didnt descend directly from a later migration into the new world, if (still an if, 12800 years ago) a comet had hit northamerica it would have been devasting and then new groups or remaining groups could invaded these areas later, maybe the culture spread faster than the genes, afterall one can learn new technology in a single generation, but intermixing occurs over thousands of generations… maybe the original solutrean migrants interbred with those individuals who had come from the siberian route and the mixing of the 2 cultures is what led to the new clovis technology, but the culture of it spread far faster than the genetic contribution from the solutrean side…While yes we need the evidence, the evidence could be as simple a single digit of hand that they acquire a genome sequence from…thats all it would take to change this model…so i say keep looking for pre-cvlovis sites and try and find more skeletons to get dna sequences, our view could change radically in a few years…
So why are there 16,000+ year old spearheads in North America?
I am not sure which artifacts you are referring to. The Paisley caves samples are 13.2 ka at the oldest. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/clovis-people-not-1st-to-arrive-in-north-america-1.1235030
Well you folks are kinda getn things figurd out . I have much knowledge on this . you see , Im decent of Ada Lee . who was killd on the Cherokee trail. She was a Paint . Im one who is of the knowing. I live in Pocatello Idaho . Im keeper of the secrets and , and a Watcher for Yellowstone. The relay for the Cherokee Telegraph. We should talk sometime [EDITED TO REMOVE TELEPHONE NUMBER FOR PRIVACY REASONS–Jennifer] . Stay close to the Great Spirit.
Not unlike the press’ “balanced coverage” of clmate change.
Don’t tell Putin. If native americans are all Russian ethnically, we could be annexed next.
Interestingly, they’re not actually “Russian”. They have their own unique genetic markers, which is one of the reasons we think that ancestral Native American populations must have been isolated for quite some time before moving southward into the continents–those markers needed some time to evolve! We geneticists think that this isolation could have happened in Beringia, but we don’t really know since most of the land bridge is now under water and we can’t look for the sites to test our hypothesis. It’s one of the great unsolved mysteries in our field, and many researchers are working on clever ways to try to solve it.Larry Moniz (@LarryMoniz) May 4, 2014 / 11:22 am
Most of the Beringia Land Bridge was underwater LONG before the timeline framed by Straus, Metzger and Co.
Making shit up out of the whole cloth–the way of religion since forever. The people pushing this bullshit don’t care what real geneticists have to say. Like Fox News, they just keep repeating their lies until they magically become the “truth”.
There’s a groupthink element to this, certainly. Honestly, if this blog had a single theme, it might be “You’re not right just because you’re going against scientific consensus.” Not that the scientific consensus is automatically right, and it’s good to question it. But it’s a consensus for a reason!
>But it’s a consensus for a reason!
Sure, but those reasons don’t have to be scientific or based on evidence. The various scientific disciplines are very political and there’s a crisis taking place among the journals and their publishers. For example if you ask the average college student if our genetics influence our behavior too many of them will tell you there is no evidence that is the case and that there is overwhelming evidence our genes do not affect us. However they are completely unaware of how those studies were conducted and how many of them have been retracted.
Genetics and anthropology has a lot of problems of its own, of particular interest is the rethinking of the Out of Africa hypothesis and what a species is and how it’s defined. There’s been a lot of good evidence against the Out of Africa theory since it’s inception however the American Anthropological Society has a strong cultural Marxist bent to it’s ideology and this influences its members and the field of anthropology in general. As an example is this statement released by the AAA in 98: http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm
This statement makes a mockery of science, history, and the field of anthropology.
I agree with your criticism of the AAA, but I think you may overestimate it’s influence, especially on the matters at hand. Over the last few decades the AAA has largely come to represent various cultural anthropology perspectives, and it has indeed moved away from hard science research (with many people being downright dismissive of it), but relatively few paleoanthropologists, bioarchaeologists, or even archaeologists are on board. I’m not even a member. The folks mentioned above have their own academic societies, and are also in many cases more closely aligned with the sciences (e.g., geology, biology, genetics, paleontology, ecology, etc.) than they are with cultural anthropology.
I’m a bit confused by what you find so ideologically radical in the piece on race you link to as far as I know, the profound indeterminacy at a genetic level of what we call race is a fairly commonplace idea in natural and human sciences. Beyond that, it’s fairly obvious the the phenotypic boundaries of “races” change wildly over time (ask an American now, and in the 1940’s if an Italian is white). This is why, for instance, an actual forensic anthropologist working a set of osteological remains will give probabilities as to an individual’s race (and, for that matter, sex), rather than the confident determinations you see on CSI.
As to the historical, political, and violent uses of the concept referenced in the piece, they too are fairly commonplace and obvious. They are also crucial to the debate, considering that a concept’s use is at least as crucial to analyse as its purported meaning or reference. I’m really missing the bias which you find so egregious.
Race is a misnomer, a myth, a farce. What you speak of is ethnicity.Larry Moniz (@LarryMoniz) May 4, 2014 / 11:23 am
The reason being retaining lucrative collegiate positions and book contracts?
Now, here. . . . is the scientific answer to all of this, from a scholar no doubt.
The TV show “America Unearthed” is basically about trying to prove that Europeans were here in numbers before Columbus and the Vikings at L’Anse aux Meadows. Jason Colavito (http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog.html) does an excellent job of debunking the claims on that show, in addition to other fringe history TV shows. “America Unearthed” recently featured the Solutrean Hypothesis and Jason wrote an excellent blog post on the subject.
Interesting, thanks for the link. I’ll check it out!
We sometimes forget that the purpose of commercial newsmedia is to sell advertising space and thus increase profits.
That is a poor excuse for peddling misinformation.
Our economic system is not noted for its committment to an educated public. The corporate media, as part of the system, share many of its attributes.Larry Moniz (@LarryMoniz) May 4, 2014 / 11:31 am
Actually, advertising is merely one department in any journalistic operation. Any ethical media outlet operates its news operation without any interference from advertising. Actually, college educators have a far closer tie-in between professors and the number of students they draw to their courses. Without sufficient students, professors loose their jobs. That’s why they protect absurd hypotheses such as Beringia and, thus, their reputations. Their pronouncements are always carefully worded with enough escape clauses so they can always back away if painted into a corner. Words like, perhaps, it appears, evidence leads us to believe, etc., ad nauseum. Journalists put their careers, reputations and jobs on the line every day by reporting facts rather than suppositions.
What about the archaeological finds on the east coast that Dennis Stanford claims are 20,000 years old? Just smoke?
I’m trying to talk an archaeologist into writing a guest post on how dating works, and specifically evaluate the evidence on the Solutrean claims, because I don’t want you to just take my word for it–that’s not what this site is all about! But until then, I’ll just say that Stanford’s finds are not in securely dated contexts–a critical flaw for his claims.
Well as an archaeology student who has worked on a few sites now I’m working on just that particular subject matter. I will try and go through the comment section here and offer what I can. Unfortunately from what I have read from a few of these folks the level of stupid is pretty high.
I look forward to the post!
The “Solutrian Hypothesis” has zero to do with genetics and has everything to do with material technology diffusion. Both sides got that wrong. There are plenty of examples of agricultural and zoological diffusion that don’t rely on stone age tools, but rather on sailing technologies.. However, all of it, even the so called “consensus” is speculation.
Are you saying that stone age sailing craft could cross the Atlantic? I’m not sure I understand your point. I am guessing the consensus to which you refer is the settlement of North America by H.sapiens
The issue isn’t whether Stone Age sailing craft could cross the Atlantic, Patrick. The issue is that Bradley and Stanford are claiming that they did, but they didn’t bring other cultural practices–such as the art found in cave paintings–with them, nor did they leave any credible evidence of their arrival in the form of DNA sequences among today’s Native Americans that are also found in Europe. The claim below utterly misrepresents the state-of-the-science understandings of DNA analysis, and it doesn’t take many needles to pop those particular balloons. Like pointing out just how large the oceans actually are, and the fact the maritime compass wasn’t invented until around the tenth or eleventh century C.E.
Despite the rather arrogant claim that archaeologists are unaware of issues within their own profession, the fact is Bradley and Stanford’s hypothesis is a huge embarrassment to many. Sanford is claiming a Solutrean spearpoint was found in waters off the East Coast, but it’s far more reasonable to suggest it came from ballast from a Spanish ship.
That “Lost Civilizations of North America” video Jennifer mentioned featured some edited gross misrepresentations of the views of the scientists who were interviewed, and the impression was given that they endorsed the idea that people other than the original Central Asian/Siberians who entered this hemisphere via the Beringia land bridge had an impact on the development of authentic pre-Columbian culture in the New World.
Unfortunately, as I read somewhere when fact checking the Von Dänikenesque claims of Gavin Menzies, “Bunk sells, and de-bunking doesn’t.”
Hi randy I notice you didn’t cite any “state of the science” understanding of DNA analysis. Perhaps you can pass that along to Steven Oppenheimer of OXFORD university, who agrees that Waters doesn’t produce “ANY” Dna evidence to refute Solutrean. And wow, large oceans, and didn’t invent compass (stars were invented a little earlier)
In northern Spain, the Solutrean population lived in a narrow strip of coastal plain and foothills close to the ocean, and likely augmented their food supply by turning to the ocean, contrary to what Straus believes. Solutrean artists, they say, left evidence for this “in their rock art depicting sea mammals, deep-water fish and great auks.” The deep sea fish is a diamond-shaped flat fish that looks like a halibut a seal with what appears to be a arrow penetrating it also appears. Both suggest the Solutreans were moving into deep waters offshore in skin boats to harvest food.
During the depths of the last Ice Age (the LGM), the Arctic ice “formed much further south during the LGM, covering major portions of the North Atlantic and connecting Europe and North America with an ice Bridge,” pushing animals that lived on the ice-margin southward. These conditions “resulted in a major annual influx of migratory sea mammals, birds and fishes into the Bay of Biscay from early fall through spring.
Bradley and Stanford believe the Solutreans had the waterproof clothing, nets, harpoon gear and watercraft necessary to exploit the marine resources, and that the ice provided excellent hunting opportunities and some protection from waves. They lived like the Inuit, harvesting seals and seabirds as they moved along the margins of the ice fields, landing their boats on ice at night to dry. As the cool climate phase began to collapse, they believe that the Solutreans began following the annual migrations of harp and grey seals (who move north with the receding ice in summer, and south in the winter), traveling further and further out to sea. These seals would have migrated across the North Atlantic and eventually south to Canada and the east coast. The “entire distance along the ice bridge would have been around 2500km, shorter than the Thule Inuit migrations from Alaska to Greenland. Some families eventually established camps along the Western Atlantic seaboard and did not return to Europe.”
That’s a very elaborate story that Bradley and Stanford have constructed, based on very scanty data. Where’s the evidence that they “lived like the Inuit”? Where’s the evidence for those Solutrean maritime adaptations? Where’s the evidence for this ice margin Where’s the evidence for these family camps, and why do we not see genetic traces of them in ancient or living Native Americans? Why do the few tools that Bradley and Stanford hinge their entire hypothesis on come from contexts so poorly dated that they can only be “published” in a popular book?
Oh, and a particular university affiliation does not automatically equate with being correct. Don’t fall into that trap, please.
Well put Ms. Raff. Especially if one’s degree is another field from the one being discussed.
The Solutrean hypothesis suggests Europeans whose native habitats had been rendered dry, barren wastelands in the wake of the last glacier maximum, were drawn to the edges of the massive ice sheet connecting Europe to America because there was noticeable activity in the form of seals, walruses, fish, etc at ice edge. Since their current environment had little to offer in the way of sustenance, naturally Solutreans gravitated toward an area that did. This did not require a compass, skills for sailing over open water for long distances, nor boats constructed to do the same. Hungry, desperate Solutreans could have, and seemingly did, eke their way along the ice edge in pursuit of something as simple to eat…so they could remain, you know, alive. This occurrence in no way invalidates or alters Asians entering America via the Bering Strait land bridge or any other way. However, it is likely that far more people of Asian descent crossed the Bering land bridge than arrived here from Europe via ice, which accounts for the genetics of contemporary Native Americans: mostly Asian contribution, with a percentage (mostly East Coast tribes) showing European contribution as well.
Lee, there is the small matter of the five to six thousand year timetable between the Solutreans in Europe and the earliest solid evidence of humans in North America. That’s roughly comparable to the entire length of recorded human history. There’s also the matter of geography those oceans are big and fearsome critters, and the history of maritime sailing generally shows that populations that engage in ocean-going exploration require a long time to develop their technology (for which there’s no evidence for among the Solutrean people). There has always been a certain “romance” to claims of seafaring people, and my take is this has colored people’s biases.
I also wonder how, over all those millennia, these ancient mariners were able to hold onto their lithic technology (where, for example, would they find the flint and chert for their spear points?).
“Lee, there is the small matter of the five to six thousand year timetable between the Solutreans in Europe and the earliest solid evidence of humans in North America.”
I think randy means solid evidence as in Monte Verde was not solid evidence for two decades until we decided it was. In the meantime, let’s look at some of the “unsolid” evidence that Mike Waters documents dating back to the Solutrean period.
From Science magazine, M a r c h 1 5 , 2 0 1 2 : “But a 2010 paper by Stanford and other researchers, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, includes the kind of evidence that the pair think might ultimately turn the tide in the argument. At the site of Miles Point on the Chesapeake Bay in eastern Maryland, geologist Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware, Newark, dated sediments containing stone tools that Stanford says resemble Solutrean implements to as early as 25,000 years ago. Those dates would make the tools the earliest artifacts in the Americas. Similarly old implements, Stanford and Bradley report in the book, have been found by Lowery and other researchers at several other sites along the East Coast. Archaeologist Michael Waters of Texas A&M, who has seen the Miles Point tools in Stanford’s Smithsonian lab, says that the Maryland location is a “very intriguing site that could be very signiﬁcant,” but he emphasizes that the work “is preliminary and more excavations are needed.”
From 2008 Science article by Waters
“The evidence for humans in the Americas even earlier than 15 ka is less secure, but recently has been presented for four sites: Cactus Hill (Virginia), La Sena (Nebraska), Lovewell (Kansas), and Topper (South Carolina). Cactus Hill is a sand-dune site with late prehistoric, Archaic, and Clovis levels. Potentially older artifacts, including small prismatic blade cores, blades, and two basally thinned bifacial points were recovered 10 to 15 cm below the Clovis level (65). Three 14C dates ranging from 20 to 18 ka are reported from the levels below Clovis… An even older occupation has been proposed based on taphonomically altered mammoth bones at the La Sena and Lovewell sites that date from 22 to 19 ka (67). Neither site has yielded stone tools or evidence of butchering however, many of the leg bones display percussion impact and flaking, which suggests that they were quarried and flaked by humans while they were in a fresh, green state, within a few years of the death of the animals…”
“history of maritime sailing generally shows that populations that engage in ocean-going exploration require a long time to develop their technology (for which there’s no evidence for among the Solutrean people)
Critics like Lawrence Straus argue that there is no representations of boats among the Solutreans and no evidence of seafaring capability or the ability to make a living on the ocean. The same inference could be drawn from Aurignacian assemblages found on a Mediterranean island (Sicily) dating back 30,000 years BP. They didn’t swim to Sicily, so boats were obviously used, but there is no physical proof of this. Bradley and Stanford responded with the obvious, that direct archaeological evidence of ancient watercraft is “problematic at best” given that sea levels are some 300-400 feet higher than during the Ice Age, leaving coastal sites and archaeological remains submerged in deep water. Moreover, materials used in early boat construction “were perishable and would not readily survive in most environments. In addition, such craft are usually stored near water and would have suffered degradation through erosion by the tides of rapidly rising sea levels associated with deglaciation.” Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
In northern Spain, the Solutrean population lived in a narrow strip of coastal plain and foothills close to the ocean, and likely augmented their food supply by turning to the ocean, contrary to what Professor Straus believes. Solutrean artists, Stanford and Bradley say, left evidence for this “in their rock art depicting sea mammals, deep-water fish and great auks.” The deep sea fish is a diamond-shaped flat fish that looks like a halibut a seal with what appears to be a arrow penetrating it also appears. Both suggest the Solutreans were moving into deep waters offshore in skin boats to harvest food.”
In 1963, University of Michigan anthropologist E.F. Greenman was one of the first scholars to propose a Solutrean link to the northeastern US, noting the unusual similarities between Beothuk canoes in Newfoundland and a Paleolithic cave painting from Castillo Spain(dating to the Upper Paleolithic) both have an unusual raised triangular mid-section (presumably designed to help prevent wave spillover. “It is the presence in Newfoundland of the Beothuk canoe, in addition to the conventional kayak, that is the most convincing part of the argument in favor of a crossing of the Atlantic from the Bay of Biscay, where both types are pictured in Upper Palaeolithic times… This canoe was first created along the Spanish coast of the Bay of Biscay, obviously for travel along the seacoast. Evidence of such travel out some distance exists in the form of at least one engraving of a deep-sea fish on the wall of a cave in the same locality…The Beothuk canoe is an extremely improbable type for the rivers of Newfoundland, which are unusually wide and shallow, and full of rocks…The Beothuk canoe was for deep water…” (Greenman Upper Palaeolithic and New World Current Anthropology, Vol 4, no 1 Feb. 1963 at 61).
The Beothunk are described as the “only Amerindian group to navigate the high seas” on the basis of swordfish remains at Beothuk sites. Harvard professor Stephen Williams notes that during the Archaic period, “on the New England coast some intrepid mariners went to sea in some sort of craft and caught the delightfully edible offshore prize the swordfish. The distinctive swordfish bills have been found in such numbers at a few Archaic sites that no other explanation seems possible—the only way to take swordfish is by harpoon in deep offshore areas…so they must have had seaworthy boats, for which there is not a shred of archaeological data other than the swordfish.” (Fantastic Archaeology, at 317).
J.M. Erlandson, a marine archaeologist at the University of Oregon and noted authority on ancient sailing craft, finds it curious that most scholars believe our ancestors did not adapt to aquatic environments until very recently. The general perception, he says, that humans only systematically adapted to marine environments during the last 10,000 to 15,000 years “has long inhibited the study of maritime adaptations, coastal migrations, and boats.” I was once “warned not to write about coastal migration in my dissertation. My adviser said I would ruin my career,” says Erlandson.
Along the northern Pacific route, archaeological evidence in Japan suggests that by at least 21,000 years ago, maritime peoples from Honshu were using boats to procure obsidian from Kozushima Island located approximately 50 km offshore. This is also significant “because it places competent mariners in the cool waters and boreal climates of the North Pacific at a date early enough to have contributed to the initial colonization of the Americas.” (Erlandson in The first Americans: The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World Ed Nina Jablonski Wattis Symposium Series in Anthropology, Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences Number 27, at 70-71).
Rafts or skin boats would have been the most likely candidates for early crossings of the North Atlantic along the margins of the ice, where they could have landed when storms developed. In his classic book The Sea-Craft of pre-History, Paul Johnstone says the best guess about the arrival of skin covered boats in North Europe is in the “immediate Postglacial or the late Pleistocene,” roughly the same time as the Solutreans(at 41). Nothing remains of these ancient boats, but later skin boats found primarily along the west coast of Ireland and Norway are “both open to the worst the Atlantic can do. Craft that can stand up to these conditions have to be really seaworthy.” (at 27). He also cites a number of accounts suggesting the curragh and umiak were highly capable of in rough, cold seas. The boats could carry 2-10 tens, but were light enough to be carried by two men, and would ride the crest of waves. According to the one-time Commandant of the US Coast Guard Academy, from what he witnessed on ice patrols south of Greenland, the umiak “was perfectly capable of remaining afloat in almost any weather.”
Lee, see my reply above about “Hyper-diffusionist Apologetics” in general, and I hope I don’t sound too patronizing with the geographical information I’m going to cite again (like pointing out the distance between Europe and the East Coast of the United States is more than 3,000 miles), but I felt that way when you brought Erlandson into the discussion. I know who he is, and the real problem with his claims is the DNA evidence for the origins of Native Americans solidly points to Siberia and not Japan or elsewhere. That fact and the reality of “polar distances” being much shorter (check out a globe on that one) makes a more northerly route far more likely. And with advances in autosomal DNA recovery and sequencing (Jennifer can doubtless elaborate on that subject), that “absence of evidence” would indeed be strong evidence of absence. It is also an easy matter with autosomal DNA to determine whether the potential contributions occurred in relatively recent or archaic times (owing to genetic recombination newer admixture sequences would be much longer and obvious Simon has a colorful Aussie metaphor for that one).
There are simply so many holes in your hodge-podge of claims that I wind up dismissing them as “fringe apologetics” that border on cherry-picking. I chose that 20,000 year figure for the Solutreans purposely, and even if one accepts Monte Verde as legitimate (Stuart Fiedel visited this blogsite on a prior entry, and he certainly doesn’t I do think his voice deserves to be heard and not shouted down), that created the 5-6,000 year figure you dismiss so gratuitously. Now are you prepared to say that actual recorded human history began before then? Adjusting perceptions can be painful, but I did have some training in “quick-and-dirty” techniques for cognitive restructuring.
Nobody disputes that ancient peoples had watercraft, but it’s a far cry from an excursion of 30 miles (I can speak metric if need be, but Olde English is better understood by the masses) to one more than hundred times further that would require provisions for fresh water, etc. and likely didn’t occur until modern times. BTW, the distance from Italy to Sicily is less than five miles at the closest point. Did you perhaps mean Corsica or Crete? There still would’ve been evidence for ancient mariners in the form of seabirds, cloud formations, etc. that they weren’t sailing off into an abyss. And the Mediterranean is a whole lot warmer than the North Pacific or North Atlantic.
I note you also had to resort of citing controversial claims and presenting them as “factual, settled issues” (Meadowbrook, Cactus Hill, et al there has been criticism as well of Waters’ use of thermoluminescent dating on the Friedkin site) in attempting to derail my figure comparing the time differential to recorded human history. I had Monte Verde in mind (even if I have strong doubts on that one), and I “gave” it to the pre-Clovis crowd, using a previous figure of around 13,000 years. Now I see the “fudge factors” are operating with some “mammoth bones” (I thought they were mastodon) being offered in at 14,800 years. Anna C. Roosevelt saw factors like that as a problem with MV dates, and the latest I saw from her was in reply to “Were there pre-Clovis people?” was “Probably is the safest answer.”
It’s important, however, to know when one is engaging in story-telling and when one is engaging in science.
My apologies to Lee I see it was Bill Tiffee who made that lengthy reply to my post, and not Lee. My analysis was aimed at Erlandson’s hypothetical claims and the fact that the DNA evidence for the ancestry of Native Americans is not consistent with an east Asian origin but rather points to Siberia. That leaves any speculative claims about Japanese maritime activity during the Pleistocene irrelevant to the debate. BTW, the first people to settle in Japan most likely crossed to those islands via land bridges. The only deep water migration that’s documented is the settlement of Taiwan by the ancestors of today’s Polynesians (who spread both west across the Indian Ocean to Madagascar and east to populate the islands of the Pacific. Finally, this historical use of the umiak only dates back a few thousand years not tens of thousands.
Thor Hyerdal already proved that unequivocally yes stone primitive craft could and did cross the Atlantic which may have been a lot different under certain conditions like the ice age…
Oh, and Thor sailed right from Western Europe to North America did he?
Oh, he sailed right from Western Europe to North America did he? Using only supplies (wood, food, water) that were available during this imaginary migration?
In the dim hopes of educating the archaeology community about their own profession, I have some comments about this post. The main proponents of the Solturean thesis are Bruce Bradley of Exeter University (considered the country’s leading expert on Paleo-Indian flaked-stone technology) and Dennis Stanford (Curator of Archaeology and Director of the Paleoindian/Paleoecology Program and former Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution), two well respected professionals who have documented close similarities in the tools, as others have since the 1930s. As critics point out, while many of the Solutrean features are found in Clovis, not all the Solutrean package is found in Clovis.
Dr. Tom Dillehay, a prominent archaeologist at Vanderbilt University and the lead investigator at Monte Verde in Chile (the site that eventually proved a pre-Clovis presence), “thinks the Solutrean link is at least as plausible as the idea of skirting ice sheets in boats along the Pacific coast to America.” (Science, 19 Nov. 1999 1468). “I think it’s feasible,” says Dillehay, “The evidence is building up, and it certainly warrants discussion.” (Washington Post, feb. 29, 2012)
Bradley and Stanford assert that not only are there remarkable convergences in Solutrean and Clovis tools, the time frames are consistent with the oldest American sites.
“The oldest radiocarbon dates for a Clovis site are from the south east, whereas the youngest dates are from the west. There is a clear overlapping of declining radiocarbon ages from Solutrean, Cactus Hill, Meadowcroft, Page-Ladson and the earliest Clovis in the East and western Clovis. We therefore suggest that the pre-Clovis technologies are transitional between Solutrean and Clovis as, not only do they fill the time gap, they are also conveniently located near the Atlantic Coasts of Europe and North America.” (2004 the North Atlantic ice-edge corridor: a possible Palaeolithic route to the New World Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford World Archaeology Vol. 36(4): 459 – 478)
From Science magazine, M a r c h 1 5 , 2 0 1 2 : “But a 2010 paper by Stanford and other researchers, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, includes the kind of evidence that the pair think might ultimately turn the tide in the argument. At the site of Miles Point on the Chesapeake Bay in east-ern Maryland, geologist Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware, Newark, dated sediments containing stone tools that Stanford says resemble Solutrean implements to as early as 25,000 years ago. Those dates would make the tools the earliest artifacts in the Americas. Similarly old implements, Stanford and Bradley report in the book, have been found by Lowery and other researchers at several other sites along the East Coast. Archaeologist Michael Watersof Texas A&M, who has s een the Miles Poin ttools in Stanford’s Smithsonian lab, says that the Maryland location is a “very intriguing site that could be very signiﬁcant,” but he emphasizes that the work is preliminary and more excavations are needed.”
As to the ability of skin boats to travel along the margins of the Ice Shield of the North Atlantic at that time, hunting migrating seals and sea birds, Paul Johnstone says in his classic book The Sea-Craft of pre-History that the best guess about the arrival of skin covered boats in North Europe is in the “immediate Postglacial or the late Pleistocene,” roughly the same time as the Solutreans(at 41).
As to the claims by Deborah Bolnick about X, while the Native American genetic marker X2a is only found in America, there is a curious marker called X2* (X2J) that has been found in an Iranian individual and Egyptian nomads that links to North America. Fernades et al (2012) make an even more explicit link between the Native American X2a and the Egyptian X2j:
“A curious feature of the tree is the possible connection of X2a to the north-African clade X2j through a mutation at position 12,397. However, this mutation might be a recurrence…. The rare X2g, also found only in Native Americans, indicates that the spread from the Near East toward the Americas could have begun as early as the emergence of the X2þ225 clade, given that this could have been the only founder sequence.”(Fernades et al The Arabian Cradle: Mitochondrial Relicts of the First Steps along the Southern Route out of Africa The American Journal of Human Genetics 90, 347–355, February 10, 2012)
The study by Reidla et al suggests a Near East origin for X rather than the Altai or Siberian region(where Haplogroup X has also been found recently): “the few Altaian (Derenko et al. 2001) and Siberian haplography X lineages are not related to the Native American cluster, and they are more likely explained by recent gene flow from Europe or from West Asia.” They believe that the Near East is the likely geographical source for the spread of X2, and that the associated population dispersal occurred around, or after, the depths of the last Ice Age (LGM) when the climate ameliorated. (Maere Reidla Origin and Diffusion of mtDNA Haplogroup XAm. J. Hum. Genet. 73:1178–1190, 2003).
In their article in the Skeptic magazine, Bolnick cites a study by Lisa Mills to refute claims of European presence in ancient America. Here is what Mills actually found when she documented the DNA profile of human remains at Hopewell sites in Ohio dating back 2,000 years. Despite elaborate efforts to prevent contamination, just 17% of the samples tested indicated Native American genes, with 83 percent showing European “contamination,” which Mills attributes to her British heritage. Mills, Lisa. 2003. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of the Ohio Hopewell of the Hopewell Mound group. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Another interesting observation by Mills is that “About 80% of their sample were dolicocephalic or long-headed, while 10% to 15% of the sample was brachycephalic or round-headed.” Dolicocephalic skulls are widely associated with Caucasians (such as the famous Kennewick Man) while Mongolians skulls are considered brachycephalic the dolicocephalic skulls are in the same proportion as the European “contamination.” A real science would attempt to replicate mill’s study to see if it is modern contamination.
As for Ken Feder claiming these theories that native Americans were capable of developing civilizations on their own, one wonders why the complex technologies brought to the Americas by the Europeans were not independently invented by the Natives, who are the cultural and biological descendants of the Hopewell/Adena Moundbuilders(whoever they were). Professor Feder’s credibility can be summed up in a single sentence: “New world pyramids are all truncated with flat tops, while Egyptian pyramids are pointed on top.” (Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology at 127). Most academics are aware of stepped pyramids in Egypt, where they appear at the same time as Aspero and Caral in Peru, and most academics are aware of conical mounds (pyramids) in the Americas.
I’m sure it’s very kind of you to try to educate us about our field. Yes, in fact, I do know who the proponents of the Solutrean hypothesis are. I do not accept your ‘argument from authority’ as grounds to give deference to their ideas. (Actually if one were to pile up the weight of degrees, titles, and publications on both sides, I’m afraid that your side would fall rather short in comparison.) Archaeology isn’t done that way–instead, we consider the evidence in support of each hypothesis. The Solutrean hypothesis simply isn’t supported by any evidence.
Also, before you use studies to try to “educate” us about our own field, perhaps you might consider reading them? I would be more than happy to send you a PDF of Lisa Mills’ dissertation–if you’re going to write about it, actually reading the entire thing might save you the embarrassment of writing about what you don’t understand. I would also be happy to send you copies of any additional publications that you might not have access to–I’ve got all of the published peer-reviewed Native American genetics studies from North America here on my laptop. Just let me know what you need.
I’ll address a few of your specific points. Sadly I don’t have time to go through each of them. Perhaps later.
I think–and please correct me if I’m wrong– that you’re claiming that the European “contamination” in Mills’ study isn’t really contamination after all, but instead actual evidence of European ancestry in an ancient Hopewell population?
Lisa did have contamination of quite a few of her negative controls, and it would indeed be nice if someone went back to redo her study, now that we have a better handle on how to prevent contamination. She did get some authentic Native American sequences (they’re actually portions of the non-coding hypervariable region, Bill, so they’re not “genes”), but while interesting and something that we think about, those results are considered very provisionally and cautiously by our field (including Dr. Bolnick). Everybody knows about the contaminated negative controls, and Mills herself talked about how her results were only preliminary. I don’t know if those particular samples are still available for study or whether they’ve been repatriated. But OTHER Hopewell (and PaleoIndian, and Archaic, and Late Woodland, and Mississippian, and Oneota) populations have been assessed genetically since then, and we see the same (Native American) sequences in those populations too, *without* contamination of the negative controls, but not the European sequences. Is that real enough science for you?
We take contamination VERY seriously in our field–if you’d like to read more about how we do ancient DNA analyses, and how we try to prevent and detect contamination, I wrote about it here: https://violentmetaphors.com/2014/02/07/how-to-tell-if-an-ancient-dna-study-is-legit/ –and we don’t base our understanding about Native American genetic diversity on studies that include contaminated samples. Rather, we have approximately 20 years of careful genetic analysis of multiple ancient and modern populations throughout the Americas (without contamination) in which we see ZERO evidence of European ancestry. It’s likely that Mills’ controls were amplifying her own DNA, or possibly that from other laboratory workers (hence the “European” sequences). Those European sequences that she found were, as the negative controls showed, modern contamination, not evidence of an ancient European migration. Might I suggest you read Kemp and Schurr (2010) for an excellent and detailed review of the field? Or you could read my own paper in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Raff et al. 2011) which discusses the combined evidence as of that year. Again, I’m happy to send you copies of either of these if you think you’ll bother to read them.
It’s fun and intuitive to think about different skull shapes, isn’t it? But even though we see quite a bit of variation in Native American populations, we also see quite a bit of variation in other populations as well. Measuring cephalic index is an old-school way of assessing ancestry, but unfortunately for your theories, when we genetically assess the “dolicocephalic” and “brachycephalic” cranial types we don’t see that they correspond with degree of European ancestry–all Native Americans typed thus far, ancient and modern, regardless of skull shape, still have Asian ancestry.
You say: “Another interesting observation by Mills is that “About 80% of their sample were dolicocephalic or long-headed, while 10% to 15% of the sample was brachycephalic or round-headed.”” Mills was discussing an older study assessing ancestry in the Ohio Hopewell (Webb and Snow, 1945). Again, if you’d actually read her dissertation, you’d see that Webb and Snow were trying to figure out, based on cranial morphology, whether or not the Ohio Hopewell had ancestry from Ohio River Valley peoples and/or Adena–the discussion has nothing whatsoever to do with European ancestry. Here’s the full section, so you can see the context of the sentence you plucked out:
“Webb and Snow (1945), based mainly upon cranial morphology, suggested that the Ohio Hopewell were characterized by three cranial shapes. About 80% of their sample were dolicocephalic or long-headed,while 10% to 15% of the sample was brachycephalic or round-headed, leaving the remaining sample as unidentifiable (Webb and Snow 1945). Snow (Webb and Snow 1945) defined the dolicocephalic type as Hopewell type 1 while the brachycephalic were considered “Adena-like” in their shape and designated Hopewell type 2. Based upon the cranial types, Snow postulated that the Hopewell type 1 cranial shapes were descendants of indigenous populations of the Ohio River Valley, while the people with the Adena type cranial shapes (Hopewell type 2) had migrated into the area (Webb and Snow 1945). He further suggests the possibility that the Hopewellian type 2 cranial shapes were a result of admixture between indigenous Hopewell and the invading Adena (Webb and Snow 1945).”
The dolicocephalic skulls being “in the same proportion as the European “contamination.”” is irrelevant. If you actually read Mills’ study, you’d see that contamination was systematic–there was no correspondence between contaminated extracts and the dolicocephalic individuals. Both cranial shapes yielded uncontaminated sequences, and both cranial shapes yielded contaminated sequences. The degree of contamination varied by extraction lot she did (a pattern we would expect to see if some batches of her reagents were contaminated), not by individual. Sorry.
That’s all I have time for right now. There’s a lot more to respond to, but I’m afraid it will have to wait. Oh, but perhaps it is worth mentioning that I spent last weekend with Mike Waters, who you claim approves of the Solutrean hypothesis. Mike, myself, and a bunch of other geneticists, paleo-climatologists, and archaeologists got together for a symposium to discuss the evidence supporting different scenarios for the peopling of the Americas. I can assure you, based on our discussions, that Dr. Waters does NOT consider the Solutrean hypothesis to be a credible explanation.
But isn’t it worth noting that theories and hypotheses suggested by archaeologists and anthropologists are, especially in these times, like sands shifting in a constant, stiff wind? Never thought I’d see the day when someone like Chris Stringer would step away from ROOA, yet he did. The thing about “evidence” (including current genetic evidence)developed in both fields is that its is rarely definitive or incontrovertible, and is subject to interpretation and analysis by people who are frequently either unaware of their own biases or unwilling to put them aside due to their own agendas. We’re all human after all.
It depends on context–I don’t think that the peopling of the Americas debates are as volatile as the human origins debates. Here, the genetic, archaeological, and paleoclimate hypotheses are largely concordant with each other, which is a strong argument in favor of Siberian ancestry for Native Americans. We know what issues need further exploration (it would be nice, for example, to get more genomic data from pre-10,000 YBP individuals so we can better understand the genetic diversity present during that time period), but I wouldn’t characterize the recent progressions made in this field as “sands shifting in a constant, stiff wind”.
Out of curiosity, what biases or agendas do you believe we have in our current interpretations?
Thanks for the comments, but you should ask Bolnick et al if they have actually read Lisa Mill’s paper (I have had the PDF for several years):
“To date, DNA has been extracted from the remains of seventy-three individuals buried at two sites exhibiting Hopewell archaeological features (the Pete Klunk mound group in Illinois and the Hopewell mound group in Ohio) Maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was analyzed, and it shows that the genetic makeup of these populations was broadly similar to other ancient and contemporary Native American populations from eastern North America (Mills 2003 Bolnick and Smith 2007)” Skeptical inquirer Jan/Feb 2012
As I point out, the Mills study actually found 83 percent “contamination,” which she attributes to her British heritage, but somehow Bolnick et al didn’t think that was important to point out, instead claiming Mills result conform with Native American populations.
I am currently co-authoring a book with a prominent Russian genetic scientist who taught at Harvard Medical School for more than ten years, and while my own experience with DNA evidence is as a criminal prosecutor, I can assure you that if a lab technician contaminated 83 percent of DNA samples with their own, it would be laughed out of court. Bolnick and Smith took samples from remains more than 500 miles west on the Illinois River, without any contamination at all, so if you want to make the claim that the Hopewell is “Native American,” then replicate the study, the foundation of scientific analysis (by the way, I have a BS in Engineering, a JD in Law and a Phd in Science and Public Policy), so I am well aware of the scientific method. One wonders if you are correct that there are actually other studies showing no European “contamination,” why they would cite a study that is fundamentally flawed by any scientific standard?
Your comment “we have approximately 20 years of careful genetic analysis of multiple ancient and modern populations throughout the Americas (without contamination) in which we see ZERO evidence of European ancestry.”
The reality. Haplogroup N is a genetic marker closely associated with the European Neolithic farmers, so it is interesting that N was found at concentrations of 2 percent(one female) in pre-Columbian Amerindian remains from central Illinois (Stone and Stoneking American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 1993 Dec. 92 (4) 463). Kolman and Tuross have also reported some anomalies in studies of pre-Columbian Amerindian remains, which they attribute to modern contamination. One sample “had never been detected in our laboratory or in New World indigenous populations…multiple extractions resulted in the same RFLP/deletion haplotypes…Therefore, it could be proposed that this haplotypes represents a new founding lineage for the New World. However, the fact that this haplotypes is found at high frequencies in European populations (17 %) and is not found in presumably ancestral Asian populations argues against this interpretation…” In total, they say, “SEVEN different non-New World sequences were identified in the current study. They are MOST LIKELY EUROPEAN in origin and may represent a minimum of seven independent sources of contamination.” (Ancient DNA Analysis of Human Populations American Journal of Physical Anthropology 111:5-23 (2000)).
This may well be contamination by modern researchers, but to assume so because it “challenges historical orthodoxy” (as Kolman and Tuross put it) regarding independent development is typical of the sloppy “scholarly” work in this field. If you can cite sources of DNA remains of the Hopewell in OHIO that DON’T show “contamination,” I would love to see them because they don’t seem to be on the Internet.
Bolnick et al: “Second, and more important, the forms of haplogroup X found in the Galilee Druze (and elsewhere in the Near East) are not closely related to the particular form of haplogroup X found in Native Americans. All members of haplogroup X share some mutations, reflecting descent from a common maternal ancestor, but other mutations divide haplogroup X mtDNAs into various subdivisions (subhaplogroups) that diverged after the time of the shared maternal ancestor (Reidla et al. 2003). The Hopewell and other Native American populations exhibit sub-haplogroup X2a, which is different from the subhaplogroups present in the Galilee Druze (subhaplogroups X2*, X2b, X2e, X2f) or other Middle Eastern populations (Reidla et al. 2003 Shlush et al. 2008 Kemp and Schurr 2010).
If they had actually read Reidla’s study, they would discover that the X2* or X2j marker they cite may well be closely related to X2a, as Fenades et al report(I am NOT a Mormon, by the way). It has also been discussed by the genetic scientist Ugo Perego:
The haplotypes are termed X2* which means that at the current time, the researchers involved in such studies have placed them in a paragroup, which is essentially a not-yet defined branch of the X2 phylogeny (tree). In other words, there is not yet enough evidence to conclude that the common mutation shared by the Native American X2a branch and the samples found in Egypt…and the Iranian sample…is ancestral to all of them. Researchers do not know whether they are dealing with a case of IBS (identical by state – or a recurrent mutation within the haplogroup) or a case of IBD (identical by descent — where the common mutation was inherited from a common ancestor).
“We surveyed our Old World haplogroup X mtDNAs for the five diagnostic X2a mutations (table 2) and found a match only for the transition at np 12397 in a single X2* sequence from Iran. In a parsimony tree, this Iranian mtDNA would share a common ancestor with the Native American clade”. (The Book of Mormon and the X haplogroup….again by Tyler Livingston on April 29th, 2010).
So yes it may be a recurring mutation, but it may also show a close genetic relationship between the two once again, these so-called scholars fail to mention that possible relationship.
C Vance Haynes, described as the country’s top Paleo—Indian geochronologist who “revolutionized the fields of geoarchaeology and archaeological geology” has also suggested a European source for the Clovis, only via Siberia: “When I look at Clovis and ask myself where in the world the culture was derived from, I would say Europe.’ In an article on the origins of Clovis(not coincidently the same year as the official demise of the Clovis First paradigm), Haynes noted that there were “extraordinary resemblances between New World Clovis and groups that lived in Czechoslovakia and Ukraine twenty thousand years ago:
“Haynes noted at least nine ‘common traits’ shared by Clovis and certain Eastern European cultures: large blades, end scrapers, burins, shaft wrenches, cylindrical bone points, knapped bone, unifacial flake tools, red ochre, and circumferentially chopped mammoth tusks. He also pointed out that an eighteen-thousand-year-old burial site of two children near Lake Baikal, in Central Asia, exhibits remarkable similarities to what appears to be a Clovis burial site of two cremated children in Montana. The similarities extend beyond tools and points buried with the remains: red ochre, a kind of iron oxide, was placed in both graves…”
“if you want to speculate, I see a band moving eastward through Siberia, and meeting people there, and having cultural differences…”(The New Yorker, June 16, 1997, pg 78)
It has long been suggested that the Mal’ta of Siberia had close links to the Aurignacian of western Europe, citing similar tools and art objects, but that was considered “impossible” because of the ice covered Urals. Now we find genetic evidence that there is a clear link, which may account for the “European” type of skulls found in ancient America:
The result came as a complete surprise to us. Who would have thought that present-day Native Americans, who we learned in school derive from East Asians, share recent evolutionary history with contemporary western Eurasians? Even more intriguingly, this happened by gene flow from an ancient population that is so far represented only by the MA-1 individual living some 24,000 years ago“, says Professor Eske Willerslev from the Centre for GeoGenetics who led the study.
“Furthermore, the team finds evidence that this genetic affinity between the Siberian boy and Native Americans is mediated by a gene flow event into the First Americans, which can explain between 14-38% of the ancestry of modern Native Americans, with the remainder of the ancestry being derived from East Asians.”
As for Mike Waters, I think if you will actually read my post I don’t say he supports Solutrean, and I am well aware he is one of the co-authors who claims HIS study strongly refutes Solutrean. My point is that he refers to the “intriguing” site in Maryland dating back 25,000 years, more than TEN THOUSAND YEARS prior to the “Clovis” remains, so it is frankly absurd to base the ethic identities of the earliest settlers on data that is hopelessly younger than the first signs of humans in America. That’s not to mention the irrationality of assuming later cultures didn’t simply wipe out the first ones (as the Spanish did in Cuba), or that genetic drift didn’t mask earlier Haplogroups. By the way, you will also find Native traditions that their ancestors have ALWAYS been here, or that there were once black and white people living among them who were sent “overseas” but the whites didn’t stay put. Vine Deloria documented a number of these oral traditions, and was a hard core diffusionist by the way.
Here are some Mike Waters quotes from Science (319, 1497 (2008) Ted Goebel, et al. in the Americas The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans):
“evaluation of the existing dates and new 14C assays reveals that Clovis more precisely dates from 13.2–13.1 to 12.9–12.8 ka…In the northern United States, the Schaefer and Hebior sites (Wisconsin) provide strong evidence of human proboscidean hunting or scavenging near the margin of the Laurentide ice sheet between 14.8 and 14.2 ka… Three other sites—Meadowcroft Rockshelter (Pennsylvania), Page- Ladson (Florida), and Paisley Cave (Oregon)—may provide additional evidence of humans in North America by about 14.6 ka. At Meadowcroft Rockshelter, artifacts occur in sediments that may be as old as 22 to 18 ka (62), but it is the RECORD POST DATING 15.2 KA THAT IS ESPECIALLY INTERESTING.”[. ]
“The evidence for humans in the Americas even earlier than 15 ka is less secure, but recently has been presented for four sites: Cactus Hill (Virginia), La Sena (Nebraska), Lovewell (Kansas), and Topper (South Carolina). Cactus Hill is a sand-dune site with late prehistoric, Archaic, and Clovis levels. Potentially older artifacts, including small prismatic blade cores, blades, and two basally thinned bifacial points were recovered 10 to 15 cm below the Clovis level (65). Three 14C dates ranging from 20 to 18 ka are reported from the levels below Clovis… An even older occupation has been proposed based on taphonomically altered mammoth bones at the La Sena and Lovewell sites that date from 22 to 19 ka (67). Neither site has yielded stone tools or evidence of butchering however, many of the leg bones display percussion impact and flaking, which suggests that they were quarried and flaked by humans while they were in a fresh, green state, within a few years of the death of the animals…”
So tell me, Jennifer, how exactly does DNA evidence dating to 13,000 years ago (during the short period of time we find Clovis tools, largely in North America) reveal the identity of the peoples who MAY have inhabited the Americas TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND YEARS AGO!! like the Maryland site that Mike Waters finds “intriguing”, or do we simply ignore these sites as unproven??
And do you realize how rare the Mitochondrial DNA is in the Anzick individual? “(mtDNA) sequencing showed substitutions that characterize the mtDNA ofAnzick-1 individual as a member of sub-haplogroup D4h3a.” Brian Kemp extracted DNA evidence from the “stickman” skeleton (dating to 10,300 years ago), found at On Your Knees Cave on Prince of Wales Island (Alaska), which shows a match to only one Asian population, the Han of China, and largely coastal Amerindian populations, but is mostly absent in the interior. (The Seattle Times 5/8/06). This genetic marker, D4h3 is found in less than 2 percent of Native Americans, mostly along the Pacific Coast and particularly in South America in the Old World, this marker is only found in Eastern China (Qingdao, Shandong province). This was published several years ago without all of the academic hysteria claiming Solutrean was disproved by his study. How does a rare DNA profile tell you the identity of the other 98 percent of Americans.
Perego Et al (Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare mtDNA Haplogroups) proposed that X and D4h3a are TWO SEPARATE migrations, so is X found in the Anzick individual, or is that a SEPARATE migration to the Americas. When you publish on remains dating to 15-25KYa, then let me know what genetic profile they have, but you don’t have actually have any from that date. And are you ignoring the Negroid skulls in South America that Neves documents. Heaven forbid that they got wiped out by Native Americans (maybe you could see if Lucia has any DNA to determine where she came from, Melanesia or Africa, or did they have Negroid skulls in eastern Asia during that period?).
And how did people migrate from Beringia (for which there is ZERO evidence, or even plant life capable of sustaining large migrating animals or humans) more than 15,000 years ago if ice shields blocked the route into the interior? According to Mike Waters “Nonetheless, the coastal corridor appears to have become deglaciated and open to human habitation by at least 15 ka, whereas the interior corridor may not have opened until 14 to 13.5 ka. The archaeological records of both corridors are still inadequate for addressing questions about the initial peopling of the Americas however, the presence of human remains dating to 13.1 to 13 ka at Arlington Springs, on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of California, indicates that the first Americans used WATERCRAFT.”
In other words, Jennifer, the ancient people likely settled the Americas by boat, even before the supposed opening of the coastal corridor c. 15 KYA. They would have crossed along the margins of the ice in places, over a vast distance from eastern Asia (China, where the D4h3a comes from?) to the west coast, leaving the earliest evidence of their presence in EASTERN NORTH AMERICA. Maybe they did, but it is at least as plausible that they made the same kind of journey along the ice margins of the North Atlantic, with the same kind of boats. I really don’t know, and neither do you.
“They haven’t produced evidence to refute the Solutrean hypothesis, says geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer of OXFORD university, a leading expert on using DNA to track ancient migrations. “In fact, there is genetic evidence that only the Solutrean hypothesis explains. “ I think your pronouncing this study (as Michael Waters also did in similar terms) as the “final shovelful of dirt” on the European hypothesis is typical on the sort of wild claims that “scholars” make in this field. My Russian genetic scientist friend and I were laughing about this study when it came out, and the plethora of bogus claims about it, including yours.
My advice as a lawyer is that you may want to keep your quality of proof outside of a courtroom of law if you don’t want lawyers laughing at you.
Great discussion. I have assembled some wikapedia maps on the site below. It certainly appears plausible to me that northeast north America gained some early immigrants from West Asia and/or Europe. We will eventually know.
These First Americans Vanished Without a Trace — But Hints of Them Linger
There are no surviving members of an ancient and mysterious group of people who lived in North America for millennia. Until now, scientists thought they had vanished without a trace.
But new research shows that this paleo group's genes live on today in several indigenous cultures.
The finding is surprising, as other studies had found that the people — one of the first groups of humans to arrive in North America — made little genetic contribution to later North American people. [10 Things We Learned About the First Americans in 2018]
Using cutting-edge techniques, however, the new research shows that's not the case. "They have never really gone extinct in that way," study senior author Stephan Schiffels, group leader of population genetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, told Live Science. "They have actually contributed to living people."
The first wave of migrants arrived in North America before 14,500 years ago, likely by crossing the Bering Strait land bridge during the last ice age. But as that ice age ended and glaciers melted, sea levels rose, flooding the land bridge. After that, archaeological evidence suggests that the next major wave of people arrived about 5,000 years ago, likely by boat, Schiffels said. This is the group of people studied in the new research.
People continued arriving in the Americas after that. About 800 years ago, the ancestors of the modern-day Inuit and Yup'ik showed up, and within 100 years, the paleo group from 5,000 years ago had vanished, according to archaeological evidence.
So, what happened to this paleo group? To learn more, Schiffels and his colleagues, including study first author Pavel Flegontov, a faculty member of science in the Department of Biology and Ecology at the University of Ostrava in the Czech Republic, dug knee deep into the genetics of this enigmatic people.
The team received permission from modern indigenous groups to take very small bone samples from the remains of 48 ancient individuals found in the American Arctic and in Siberia. The scientists then ground these bone samples into powder so they could extract and study DNA.
Then, the researchers analyzed the genomes of 93 modern individuals of indigenous heritage from Siberia, Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and Canada. For good measure, the researchers looked at previously published genomes from these regions too.
With the novel method of looking for rare genetic mutations that the paleo group had passed down, as well as other family-tree-modeling methods, the researchers found that the paleo group left a hefty genetic footprint their genes are found in modern people who speak the Eskimo-Aleut and Na-Dene languages, which includes Athabaskan and Tlingit communities from Alaska, northern Canada, and the U.S. West Coast and Southwest.
The scientists generated so much data that they could build a comprehensive model explaining ancient gene exchange between Siberia and the Americas. This model shows that Na-Dene-speaking peoples, people of the Aleutian Islands, and Yup'ik and Inuit in the Arctic all share ancestry from a single population in Siberia related to the paleo group, the researchers said.
"It is the first study to comprehensively describe all of these populations in one single, coherent model," Schiffels said in a statement.
According to the model, after the paleo group arrived in Alaska between 5,000 and 4,000 years ago, they mixed with people who had a similar ancestry to more-southern Native American peoples. The descendants of these couplings become the ancestors of the Aleutian Islanders and Athabaskans. [25 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]
Moreover, the ancestors of the Inuit and Yup'ik people didn't just venture from Siberia to North America once they went back and forth like pingpong balls, crossing the Bering Strait at least three times, the researchers found. First, these ancient people crossed as that original paleo group to Alaska then, they returned to Chukotka, Siberia third, they traveled to Alaska again, as bearers of the Thule culture, the predecessor to the modern Inuit and Yup'ik cultures of Alaska, the Arctic, and High Arctic. During their stay in Chukotka — a long stint that lasted more than 1,000 years — the ancestors of the Inuit and Yup'ik mixed with local groups there. The genes from these offspring remain in modern-day people living in Chukchi and Kamchatka, Siberia.
"There's a reason why this was hard [to do] before," Schiffels told Live Science. "These populations are very closely related with each other, and it's very hard to disentangle the different ancestry components."
The study was published online yesterday (June 5) in the journal Nature. In another Nature study published online yesterday, researchers found human teeth dating to 31,000 years ago, remains that are now the oldest direct evidence of humans in Siberia.
24,000 year old boy from Lake Baikal is 'scientific sensation'
Remains of the child suggest an 'unknown European invasion of Siberia deep in ancient times'.
Geneticist Connie Mulligan of the University of Florida called the findings 'jaw-dropping'. DNA from this ancient Siberian skeleton offers clues to the first Americans. Picture: The State Hermitage museum, St. Petersburg
New DNA findings, if confirmed, have stunning implications for our understanding of both pre-historic Siberians - and native Americans. They would suggest that, contrary to previous understanding, some indigenous populations are - in fact - European or West Asiatic in origin.
The Danish-US research was carried out on the bones of a Siberian boy whose remains were found near the village of Mal'ta close to Lake Baikal in the 1920s in a grave adorned with flint tools, pendants, a bead necklace and a sprinkling of ochre. The remains are held in the world famous Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and analysis of a bone in one of his arms represents 'the oldest complete genome of a modern human sequenced to date', according to Science magazine.
'His DNA shows close ties to those of today's Native Americans. Yet he apparently descended not from East Asians, but from people who had lived in Europe or western Asia,' said ancient DNA expert Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen. 'The finding suggests that about a third of the ancestry of today's Native Americans can be traced to 'western Eurasia'.'
The research may help explain why 'European ancestry previously detected in modern Native Americans do not come solely from mixing with European colonists, as most scientists had assumed, but have much deeper roots', said the report.
It may also raise a similar question about the 'European look' of some ancient Siberians - for example in the tattooed permafrost princess Ukok found in a burial chamber in the Altai Mountains, whose remains date from around 2,500 years ago.
'Princess' Ukok's shoulder, tattoo of fantastic animal, and a drawing of it made by Siberian scientists. Picture and drawing: Elena Shumakova, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Science
Russian scientists reconstructed her to show what many were surprised to be a European face, unrelated to the modern day Altai tribes. The finding is confirmed by DNA analysis which showed her to be Pazyryk in origin. Her group was part of the Samoyedic family, with elements of the Iranian-Caucasian substratum'.
The four year old boy was found near the Belaya River close to the village of Mal'ta which is famed for the discovery of ancient art, some of it showing close links to European discoveries of the same period. Willerslev and co-author Kelly Graf of Texas A&M University 'used a variety of statistical methods to compare the genome with that of living populations.
'They found that a portion of the boy's genome is shared only by today's Native Americans and no other groups, showing a close relationship.
'Yet the child's Y chromosome belongs to a genetic group called Y haplogroup R, and its mitochondrial DNA to a haplogroup U. Today, those haplogroups are found almost exclusively in people living in Europe and regions of Asia west of the Altai Mountains, which are near the borders of Russia, China, and Mongolia.'
Until now it has been widely believed that Native Americans were linked to Eastern Siberian tribes, having crossed Beringia, a vast Ice Age land bridge.
The magazine report stated: 'One expected relationship was missing from the picture - the boy's genome showed no connection to modern East Asians.
'DNA studies of living people strongly suggest that East Asians - perhaps Siberians, Chinese, or Japanese - make up the major part of Native American ancestors. So how could the boy be related to living Native Americans, but not to East Asians?'
The Mal'ta boy was related to people who later migrated across Beringia to the Americas. Picture: G.Grullon/Science
Willerslev and his team propose that earlier than 24,000 years ago 'the ancestors of Native Americans and the ancestors of today's East Asians split into distinct groups.
'The Mal'ta child represents a population of Native American ancestors who moved into Siberia, probably from Europe or west Asia. Then, sometime after the Mal'ta boy died, this population mixed with East Asians. The new, admixed population eventually made its way to the Americas.'
The timing is uncertain but 'the deep roots in Europe or west Asia could help explain features of some Paleoamerican skeletons and of Native American DNA today'. Some of the traces of Eurasian genetic signatures in modern Native Americans do not come from colonial times when incoming Europeans mixed with the indigenous population.
'Some of them are ancient,' said Willerslev. Geneticist Connie Mulligan of the University of Florida called the findings 'jaw-dropping'.
Yet perhaps the findings - the full details of which are due to be published soon in Nature journal - are not so surprising. Famed Russian archeologist Mikhail Gerasimov found art work at Mal'ta which show a close resemblance to European female figurines of the Upper Paleolithic period. The similarities extend to tools and dwelling structures.
First complete genome sequence of an ancient North American offers clues to Native American ancestry - History
1st Americans had Indigenous Australian genes Live Science - April 3, 2021
During the last ice age, when hunters and gatherers crossed the ancient Bering Land Bridge that connected Asia with North America, they carried something special with them in their genetic code: pieces of ancestral Australian DNA, a new study finds. Over the generations, these people and their descendants trekked southward, making their way to South America. Even now, more than 15,000 years after these people crossed the Bering Land Bridge, their descendants - who still carry ancestral Australian genetic signatures - can be found in parts of the South American Pacific coast and in the Amazon, the researchers found.
Skulls from ancient North Americans hint at multiple migration waves Live Science - January 30, 2020
he earliest humans in North America were far more diverse than previously realized, according to a new study of human remains found within one of the world's most extensive underwater cave systems. The remains, discovered in the caverns of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, represent just four of the earliest North Americans, all of whom lived between 9,000 and 13,000 years ago. They're important because North American remains from the first millennia of human habitation in the Americas are rare.
Ancient DNA evidence reveals two unknown migrations from North to South America Science Daily - November 8, 2018
A team has used genome-wide ancient DNA data to revise Central and South American history. Their analysis of DNA from 49 individuals spanning about 10,000 years in Belize, Brazil, the Central Andes, and southern South America has concluded that the majority of Central and South American ancestry arrived from at least three different streams of people entering from North America, all arising from one ancestral lineage of migrants who crossed the Bering Strait.
Ancient DNA analysis yields unexpected insights about peoples of Central, South America PhysOrg - November 8, 2018
An international team of researchers has revealed unexpected details about the peopling of Central and South America by studying the first high-quality ancient DNA data from those regions. The findings include two previously unknown genetic exchanges between North and South America, one of which represents a continent-wide population turnover. The results suggest that the people who spread the Clovis culture, the first widespread archaeological culture of North America, had a major demographic impact further south than previously appreciated. The authors analyzed genome-wide data from 49 individuals from Central and South America, some as old as 11,000 years. Previously, the only genomes that had been reported from this region and that provided sufficient quality data to analyze were less than 1,000 years old. By comparing ancient and modern genomes from the Americas and other parts of the globe, the researchers were able to obtain qualitatively new insights into the early history of Central and South America.
History of early settlement and survival in Andean highlands revealed by ancient genomes PhysOrg - November 8, 2018
A multi-center study of the genetic remains of people who settled thousands of years ago in the Andes Mountains of South America reveals a complex picture of human adaptation from early settlement, to a split about 9,000 years ago between high and lowland populations, to the devastating exposure to European disease in the 16th-century colonial period.
DNA of world's oldest natural mummy unlocks secrets of Ice Age tribes in the Americas Science Daily - November 8, 2018
A legal battle over a 10,600 year old ancient skeleton -- called the 'Spirit Cave Mummy' -- has ended after advanced DNA sequencing found it was related to a Native American tribe.
People genetically linked to the Clovis culture, one of the earliest continent-wide cultures in North America, made it down to South America as far back as 11,000 years ago. Then they mysteriously vanished around 9,000 years ago, new research reveals. Where did they go? It appears that another ancient group of people replaced them, but it's unclear how or why this happened, the researchers said.
Gault site research pushes back date of earliest North Americans Science Daily - July 23, 2018
Archaeological evidence has increasingly called into question the idea of 'Clovis First.' Now, a study has dated a significant assemblage of stone artifacts to 16-20,000 years of age, pushing back the timeline of the first human inhabitants of North America before Clovis by at least 2,500 years.
How 250 Siberians Became the First Native Americans Live Science - May 10, 2018
The Americas are a big place, but the Native American group that first settled it was small - just about 250 people, according to a new genetic study. These people, known as a founding group because they "founded" the first population, migrated from Siberia to the Americas by about 15,000 years ago. Figuring out the size of founding groups is key, because it determines the amount of genetic diversity that gets passed on to the group's descendants.
Spear point study offers new explanation of how early humans settled North America Science Daily - April 3, 2018
Careful examination of numerous fluted spear points found in Alaska and western Canada prove that the Ice Age peopling of the Americas was much more complex than previously believed. Using new digital methods of analyses utilized for the first time in such a study of these artifacts, the researchers found that early settlers in the emerging ice-free corridor of interior western Canada "were travelling north to Alaska, not south from Alaska, as previously interpreted," says Goebel.
Alaskan infant's DNA tells story of 'first Americans' BBC - January 4, 2018
The 11,500-year-old remains of an infant girl from Alaska have shed new light on the peopling of the Americas. Genetic analysis of the child, allied to other data, indicates she belonged to a previously unknown, ancient group. Scientists say what they have learnt from her DNA strongly supports the idea that a single wave of migrants moved into the continent from Siberia just over 20,000 years ago. Lower sea-levels back then would have created dry land in the Bering Strait. It would have submerged again only as northern ice sheets melted
The genes that rewrite American pre-history: Ancient DNA reveals how the first humans arrived on the continent in ONE wave more than 25,000 years ago and then split into three ancestral Native American groups Daily Mail - January 3, 2018
The DNA of a six-week-old Native American infant who died 11,500 years ago has rewritten the history of the Americas. The young girl's genes reveal the first humans arrived on the continent 25,000 years ago - much earlier than some studies claim - before splitting into three Native American groups. This is the first time that direct genetic traces of the earliest Native Americans have been identified. The girl belonged to a previously unknown population of ancient people in North America known as the 'Ancient Beringians.' This small Native American group resided in Alaska and died out around 6,000 years ago, researchers claim.
Human settlement in the Americas may have occurred in the late Pleistocene PhysOrg - August 30, 2017
Analysis of a skeleton found in the Chan Hol cave near Tulum, Mexico suggests human settlement in the Americas occurred in the late Pleistocene era. Scientists have long debated about when humans first settled in the Americas. While osteological evidence of early settlers is fragmentary, researchers have previously discovered and dated well-preserved prehistoric human skeletons in caves in Tulum in Southern Mexico.
Humans were in America 115,000 years earlier than thought: Dramatic discovery that mastodon bones were butchered with Stone Age tools has forced scientists to stunning new conclusion Daily Mail - April 26, 2017
A controversial find could rewrite the history of humans in North America. Archaeologists claim to have found evidence an unknown species of human was living on the continent as early as 130,000 years ago - 115,000 years earlier than previously thought. Researchers discovered the butchered remains of an enormous mastodon in San Diego, with evidence of chips and fractures made by early humans - but they admit they don't know if they were Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, Neanderthals, or something else.
Mastodon discovery shakes up understanding of early humans in the New World Science Daily - April 26, 2017
Broken bones and rocks yield evidence that pushes back the record of early humans in North America by more than 100,000 years
Pre-Clovis civilization in Florida settlement 1,500 years earlier than previously believed Science Daily - May 13, 2016
The discovery of stone tools alongside mastodon bones in a Florida river shows that humans settled the southeastern United States as much as 1,500 years earlier than scientists previously believed, according to a new research. This site on the Aucilla River -- about 45 minutes from Tallahassee -- is now the oldest known site of human life in the southeastern United States. It dates back 14,550 years.
1st Americans Used Spear-Throwers to Hunt Large Animals Live Science - January 28, 2015
Despite a lack of archaeological evidence, the first North Americans have often been depicted hunting with spear-throwers, which are tools that can launch deadly spear points at high speeds. But now, a new analysis of microscopic fractures on Paleo-Indian spear points provides the first empirical evidence that America's first hunters really did use these weapons to tackle mammoths and other big game. The new study has implications for scientists' understanding of the way Paleo-Indians lived, researchers say. To understand the inner workings of extinct hunter-gatherer societies, it's important to first learn how the ancient peoples got the food they ate, because their lives were closely tied to their subsistence activities. Current models of Paleo-Indian society are based on the assumption that hunters sometimes used spear-throwers, or atlatls.
In Photos: Human Skeleton Sheds Light on First Americans Live Science - May 15, 2014
A near-complete human skeleton has been discovered, buried alongside saber-toothed cats, pumas and bobcats, at the bottom of Hoyo Negro, deep beneath the jungles of the eastern Yucatan Peninsula. Here, divers Nava and Susan Bird transport the Hoyo Negro skull to an underwater turntable so that it can be photographed in order to create a 3D model.
Sunken body clue to American origins BBC - May 15, 2014
The ancient remains of a teenage girl discovered deep underground in Mexico are providing additional insights on how the Americas came to be populated. Divers found the juvenile's bones by chance in a vast, flooded limestone chamber on the Yucatan Peninsula. Aged 15 or 16 at death, the girl lived at least 12,000 years ago. Researchers have told Science Magazine her DNA backs the idea that the first Americans and modern Native American Indians share a common ancestry. This theory argues that people from Siberia settled on the land bridge dubbed Beringia that linked Asia and the Americas some 20,000 years ago before sea levels rose.
Prehistoric Boy May Be Native American 'Missing Link' Live Science - February 13, 2014
A prehistoric boy's DNA now suggests that ancient toolmakers long thought of as the first Americans may serve as a kind of "missing link" between Native Americans and the rest of the world, researchers say. The findings reveal these prehistoric toolmakers are the direct ancestors of many contemporary Native Americans, and are closely related to all Native Americans. Scientists investigated a prehistoric culture known as the Clovis, named after sites discovered near Clovis, N.M. Centuries of cold, nicknamed the "Big Freeze," helped wipe out the Clovis, as well as most of the large mammals in North America. The artifacts of the Clovis are found south of the giant ice sheets that once covered Canada, in most of North America, though not in South America.
Ancient American's genome mapped BBC - February 13, 2014
Present-day Native Americans are descended from some of the continent's earliest settlers, a genetic study suggests. Scientists sequenced the genome of a one-year-old boy who died in what is now Montana about 12,500 years ago. Some researchers have raised questions about the origins of early Americans, with one theory even proposing a link to Ice Age Europeans. But the Nature study places the origins of these ancient people in Asia. The infant was a member of the Clovis people, a widespread, sophisticated Ice Age culture in North America. They appeared in America about 13,000 years ago and hunted mammoth, mastodon and bison. The boy's remains, uncovered at the Anzick Site in Montana in 1968, were associated with distinctive Clovis stone tools. In fact, it is the only known skeleton directly linked to artifacts from this culture. But the origins of the Clovis people, and who they are related to today, has been the subject of intense discussion.
Ancient giant sloth bones suggest humans were in Americas far earlier than thought PhysOrg - November 20, 2013
A team of Uruguayan researchers working in Uruguay has found evidence in ancient sloth bones that suggests humans were in the area as far back as 30,000 years ago. Most scientists today believe that humans populated the Americas approximately 16,000 years ago, and did so by walking across the Bering Strait, which would have been frozen over during that time period. More recent evidence has begun to suggest that humans were living in South America far earlier than that - just last month a team of excavators in Brazil discovered cave paintings and ceramics that have been dated to 30,000 years ago and now, in this new effort, the research team has found more evidence of people living in Uruguay around the same time.
Oregon stone tools enliven 'earliest Americans' debate BBC - July 13, 2012
Scientists studying how North America was first settled have found stone spearheads and darts in Oregon, US, that date back more than 13,000 years. The hunting implements, which are of the "Western Stemmed" tradition, are at least as old as the famous Clovis tools thought for a long time to belong to the continent's earliest inhabitants. Precise carbon dating of dried human feces discovered alongside the stone specimens tied down their antiquity.
New fossils of oldest American primate PhysOrg - November 16, 2011
Johns Hopkins researchers have identified the first ankle and toe bone fossils from the earliest North American true primate, which they say suggests that our earliest forerunners may have dwelled or moved primarily in trees, like modern day lemurs and similar mammals.
Paleo CSI: Early Hunters Left Mastodon Murder Weapon Behind Live Science - October 21, 2011
A new look at a very old mastodon skeleton has turned up evidence of the first known hunting weapon in North America, a tool made of bone that predates previously known hunting technology by 800 years. The sharp bit of bone, found embedded in a mastodon rib unearthed in the 1970s, has long been controversial. Archaeologists have argued about both the date assigned to the bone - around 14,000 years old - and about whether the alleged weapon was really shaped by human hands. But now, researchers say it's likely that 13,800 years ago, hunters slaughtered elephant-like mastodons using bony projectile points not much bigger around than pencils, sharpened to needle-like tips.
Old American theory is 'speared' BBC - October 21, 2011
An ancient bone with a projectile point lodged within it appears to up-end - once and for all - a long-held idea of how the Americas were first populated. The rib, from a tusked beast known as a mastodon, has been dated precisely to 13,800 years ago. This places it before the so-called Clovis hunters, who many academics had argued were the North American continent's original inhabitants.
Stone tools 'demand new American story' BBC - March 25, 2011
The long-held theory of how humans first populated the Americas may have been well and truly broken. Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of stone tools that predate the technology widely assumed to have been carried by the first settlers. The discoveries in Texas are seen as compelling evidence that the so-called Clovis culture does not represent America's original immigrants. Details of the 15,500-year-old finds are reported in Science magazine.
Ancient woman suggests diverse migration PhysOrg - July 23, 2010
This undated photo taken at the France-based Atelier Daynes in Paris, released on Friday, July 23, 2010, by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, shows a scientific reconstruction of an ancient woman known as La Mujer de las Palmas, based on the skeletal remains of a female who lived between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago in Tulum, Mexico. Experts reconstructed what the woman may have looked like based on the remains found in 2002 in a sinkhole cave near the Caribbean resort of Tulum, Mexico. Anthropologist Alejandro Terrazas says the reconstruction resembles people from southeastern Asia areas like Indonesia, even though experts had long believed the first people to migrate to the Americas where from northeast Asia. A scientific reconstruction of one of the oldest sets of human remains found in the Americas appears to support theories that the first people who came to the hemisphere migrated from a broader area than once thought, researchers say.
Fossilized feces found in Oregon's Paisley Caves may help solve the riddle of when and how humans came to the Americas. BBC - April 3, 2008
Fossiliszed faeces found in a US cave may help solve the riddle of when and how humans came to the Americas. The samples date back just over 14,000 years, before the time of the Clovis culture. Clovis people dominated North and Central America around 13,000 years ago, and whether any groups came before them has been controversial. In the journal Science, the researchers describe how their conclusion hinged on modern genetic analysis. The 14 fecal fragments were discovered in caves near a lake in the north-western US state of Oregon, among other signs of ancient human occupation.
First Americans May Have Been European Live Science - February 20, 2006
The first humans to spread across North America may have been seal hunters from France and Spain. This runs counter to the long-held belief that the first human entry into the Americas was a crossing of a land-ice bridge that spanned the Bering Strait about 13,500 years ago.
Ancient People Followed 'Kelp Highway' to America Live Science - February 20, 2006
Ancient humans from Asia may have entered the Americas following an ocean highway made of dense kelp. The new finding lends strength to the "coastal migration theory," whereby early maritime populations boated from one island to another, hunting the bountiful amounts of sea creatures that live in kelp forests.
Footprints of 'first Americans' BBC - July 5, 2005
Human settlers made it to the Americas 30,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to new evidence. A team of scientists came to this controversial conclusion by dating human footprints preserved by volcanic ash in an abandoned quarry in Mexico. They say the first Americans may have arrived by sea, rather than by foot. The traditional view is that the continent's early settlers arrived around 11,000 years ago, by crossing a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska.
New Evidence Puts Man In North America 50,000 Years Ago Science Daily - November 18, 2004
Radiocarbon tests of carbonized plant remains where artifacts were unearthed last May along the Savannah River in Allendale County by University of South Carolina archaeologist Dr. Albert Goodyear indicate that the sediments containing these artifacts are at least 50,000 years old, meaning that humans inhabited North American long before the last ice age. The findings are significant because they suggest that humans inhabited North America well before the last ice age more than 20,000 years ago, a potentially explosive revelation in American archaeology. Goodyear, who has garnered international attention for his discoveries of tools that pre-date what is believed to be humans' arrival in North America, announced the test results
Seafaring clue to first Americans 8,000 years ago BBC - February 26, 2004
People in North America were voyaging by sea some 8,000 years ago, boosting a theory that some of the continent's first settlers arrived there by boat. That is the claim of archaeologists who have found evidence of ancient seafaring along the Californian coast. The traditional view holds that the first Americans were trekkers from Siberia who crossed a land bridge into Alaska during the last Ice Age.
Humans reached America at least 30,000 years ago BBC - July 22, 2003
A new genetic study deals a blow to claims that humans reached America at least 30,000 years ago - around the same time that people were colonizing Europe. The subject of when humans first arrived in America is hotly contested by academics. On one side of the argument are researchers who claim America was first populated around 13,000 years ago, toward the end of the last Ice Age. On the other are those who propose a much earlier date for colonization of the continent - possibly around 30,000-40,000 years ago.
The Very First Americans May Have Had European Roots
More than 15,000 years ago the first people came to the Americas, walking across the Bering Strait on a land bridge from Siberia, or maybe sailing east along the coast. These people spread down and through North, Central and South America, with early civilizations like the Clovis people taking root. As the theory goes, early Americans originated from a small group of people that made it over from Asia. But when researchers dig into the genes of some Native American people, unexpected genes, genes with a European heritage, jump out.
The common assumption is that these genes were picked up, mixed into the gene pool from European colonialists. But new preliminary research, reported on by Science Magazine, tells a different story. Some early Americans came not from Asia, it seems, but by way of Europe.
From the complete nuclear genome of a Siberian boy who died 24,000 years ago—the oldest complete genome of a modern human sequenced to date. His DNA shows close ties to those of today’s Native Americans. Yet he apparently descended not from East Asians, but from people who had lived in Europe or western Asia. The finding suggests that about a third of the ancestry of today’s Native Americans can be traced to “western Eurasia,” with the other two-thirds coming from eastern Asia.
The presence of European genes in early Americans has always been confusing, says Nature. But in the new research, says Science, the scientists found that “a portion of the boy’s genome is shared only by today’s Native Americans and no other groups.” Other parts of his genome were tied to Europeans, but the boy had no genetic relationship to modern East Asians.
The researchers think that rather than taking a straight path from East Asia to the New World, the genetic heritage of early Americans was more convoluted:
The team proposes a relatively simple scenario: Before 24,000 years ago, the ancestors of Native Americans and the ancestors of today’s East Asians split into distinct groups. The Mal’ta child represents a population of Native American ancestors who moved into Siberia, probably from Europe or west Asia. Then, sometime after the Mal’ta boy died, this population mixed with East Asians. The new, admixed population eventually made its way to the Americas. Exactly when and where the admixture happened is not clear, Willerslev said. But the deep roots in Europe or west Asia could help explain features of some Paleoamerican skeletons and of Native American DNA today. “The west Eurasian signatures that we very often find in today’s Native Americans don’t all come from postcolonial admixture,” Willerslev said in his talk. “Some of them are ancient.”