Archaeologists working in the Chiquihuite Cave in northern Mexico say that humans arrived in the Americas approximately 30,000 years ago. According to the archaeologists, evidence of nearly 2,000 stone tools found in the cave point to this arrival window. If true, this would mean people came to the Americas roughly 15,000 years earlier than many current estimates say.
The archaeologists who excavated the bevy of stone tools published their findings in the journal Nature. The researchers were led by Ciprian F. Ardelean, an archaeologist at the University of Zacatecas in Mexico, and DNA scientist Eske Willerslev at the University of Cambridge. In the above video, we see Ardelean (driving at beginning), and Willerslev (glasses, no hat) walking through the Mexican cave.
“People have passionately debated when the first humans entered the Americas” Willerslev said in a news post from The University of Cambridge. He added that, subsequently, “Chiquihuite Cave will create a lot more debate as it is the first site that dates the arrival of people to the continent to around 30,000 years ago….”
News & Views: Two studies in Nature report evidence that the initial human settlement of the Americas happened earlier than is widely accepted. Some of the evidence suggests settlement began at least 10,000 years earlier than was generally suspected. https://t.co/OBuIQzBI7v— Nature Portfolio (@NaturePortfolio) July 23, 2020
Chiquihuite Cave could even be considered “America’s oldest hotel” thanks to the way it was used, said Willerslev. It seems that regardless of when exactly prehistoric peoples visited Chiquihuite Cave, they didn’t stay long.
Magus Film / St John’s College Cambridge
“[W]e think people spent part of the year there using it as a winter or summer shelter, or as a base to hunt during migration,” Willerslev said in the news release. Ardelean added that, consequently, “We don’t know who they were, where they came from or where they went.”
We publish evidence for very early humans in the Americas today in @nature, one of two papers describing new work on human dispersal to the continent. We find at Chiquihuite Cave, Mexico, human occupation prior to 26,000 yr ago. https://t.co/3JQMK91J71 @labecval @school_of_arch pic.twitter.com/ZUhtFoQB8P— Tom Higham (@tommyhigham) July 22, 2020
The findings not only pinpoint humanity’s migration to the Americas at 30,000 years ago, but also help dismantle the “Clovis First” hypothesis. The Clovis First hypothesis says that people associated with the Clovis culture were the first inhabitants of the Americas. Archaeologists found evidence of the prehistoric culture near Clovis, New Mexico in the ’20s and ’30s.
Willerslev et al. dated the Chiquihuite Cave tools using DNA analysis of the plant and animal remains from the surrounding sediment. Unfortunately, however, the archaeologists involved with the research did not find any human DNA around the tools. As such, the earliest human DNA from the Americas stills remains at 12,400 years old.
Chiquihuite Cave is unique in that it is a very early high-altitude site. It was probably occupied seasonally over short periods, but revisited over millennia. We need to look now at sites and sediments of pre-LGM age to search for more archaeological evidence from this period. pic.twitter.com/BhkUixfzHH— Tom Higham (@tommyhigham) July 22, 2020
Are you now convinced that people populated the Americas 30,000 years ago above all doubt? Are you particularly skeptical of any of these claims? Let’s dig into these findings in the comments!
Feature image: Magus Film / St John’s College Cambridge