Humans didn't arrive in the Americas by land bridge

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Plazma Inferno!, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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    The standard story of how humans arrived in the Americas is that they marched 1,500km across the Bering Land Bridge, a now-vanished landmass between Siberia and Northern Canada that emerged roughly 15,000 years ago in the wake of the last ice age. But for the past decade, evidence has been piling up that humans arrived in the Americas by traveling in boats along the Pacific coast. Some 14,000-year-old campsites like Oregon's Paisley Caves have been found near rivers that meet the Pacific, suggesting that early humans came inland from the coast along these waterways. Now, a new study published provides more solid evidence the first humans to reach the Americas could not have come via the Bering Land Bridge.
    A group of geoscientists, anthropologists, and biologists led a massive effort to study the environment on the Bering Land Bridge when humans were supposedly crossing it 15,000 years ago. They used a common method for sampling ancient environments called coring. Using hollow tubes, they drilled deep into the sediment at the bottom of two frozen lakes in British Columbia, looking for fossils of plant and animal life from the era when humans could have crossed the Land Bridge. They picked these two specific lakes—Charlie Lake and Spring Lake, to be exact—because they were in a region where the last remaining ice sheets melted. The very first humans to pass into the Americas would have had to cross through this area.
    Their observations are essentially the death knell for the Bering Land Bridge hypothesis of how humans arrived in the Americas.

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2016...umans-arrived-in-the-americas-by-land-bridge/

    Study: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature19085.html
     
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  3. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There's evidence of multiple migrations to the Western Hemisphere, each taking a different path.

    This continued until quite recent times. For example, the people who built the statues on Rapa Nui (or "Easter Island" as we call it) were Polynesians, who sailed directly across the Pacific, roughly 1,000 years ago.

    And, of course, not everybody came from Asia. There's solid evidence of a Viking colony in the northeastern region of North America, but for reasons we'll probably never know, it was abandoned before it made much of an impact on the culture and technology of the native people.

    There's even convincing evidence of a much earlier voyage from Europe during a mini-ice age when sea level was considerably lower. We've found the remnants of a Solutrean village off the eastern shore of what is now the USA, quite a few kilometers east of the continent's modern shoreline--and about 30 meters underwater.
     
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  7. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Some sites would place the dates back well before the lgm.
     
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The close relationship between humans and watershores, along with the prevalence of boats and so forth as the most sophisticated technology present among shoreline dwelling people - all but certainly long predating agriculture or domesticated animals other than dogs - is one of those things that seem generally unappreciated in the halls of academia.

    Nobody walked to Australia. Nor did they swim, in family groups, across the surrounding ocean. And that was 40k years ago.

    The hypothesis that the first arrivals to North America were shorehopping by boat should always have been the first, standard, obvious possibility.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    But no evidence to support that hypothesis had been discovered until rather recently. On the other hand, rather generous evidence of people walking across the Bering Land Bridge (at a time when that land bridge existed) has been investigated for a century--give or take a few decades.

    Those boats were made of materials that decayed into rubbish thousands of years ago, leaving absolutely no evidence.

    A few years ago, the first evidence of a relationship between an Old World people and a New World people was discovered. However, the relationship is based on linguistics rather than biology, and the evidence has not yet reached the level of certainty that scientists require. The Yenisei people of eastern Siberia speak a language that has some astounding similarities to the Navajo language. Navajo is a member of the Na-Dene language family, which also includes Tlingit, an Alaskan language. Our knowledge of the history of the Yenisei is a little murky, but the possibility that some of their distant ancestors walked into Alaska is hardly remarkable.
     
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Or any other hypothesis. Except, of course, for such obvious facts as the presence of human beings on Australia and dozens of other island habitats https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ainu_...ution_of_Asian_peoples_Sinodont_Sundadont.GIF, with their dogs and tools and families and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, and no way to have got to dozens of them except over many klicks of open ocean, as much as 20k years before the first evidence of people in the Americas. Or the inveterate presence of human beings on coastlines and riverbanks, leaving population maps that look like some kind of sea lion or otter or the like.

    The presumption would be that humans have had boats, rafts, flotation devices of some kind, for at least as long as they have had clothing and minimally sophisticated shelter. And once that is figured into human migration, it becomes the most likely mode by presumption, by default in the absence of evidence - the hypothesis that the evidence needs to knock down.
    Why was it evidence of walking? And why was it extended down the middle of a most inhospitable continent, with a perfectly good coastline and island chain much readier to hand?
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    DNA shows that the Inuit (or "Eskimos," a name with a derogatory cachet that is no longer in favor) who still live in the extreme north of North America are the same people who still live in the extreme north of eastern Siberia. They didn't need to build boats because the Bering Land Bridge was already there. These were people who lived inland, and had not yet developed the seafaring technology that their modern descendants use to hunt seals and other aquatic animals.

    The B.L.B. encouraged people from various closely-related tribes to make the journey. Remnants of one settlement in Alaska were recently uncovered--and while the well-preserved human remains are clearly of people from the same ancestral stock, there was surprising DNA evidence of several groups who came from different tribes. Apparently, they merged their communities once they arrived and continued to welcome new arrivals.

    It wasn't until temperatures rose and the B.L.B. was sundered by melting, that the people in Siberia had to build boats in order to stay in touch with their relatives in Alaska, Canada, and ultimately Greenland.

    For reasons I don't know (hopefully the scholars do), the two populations eventually lost contact. Explorers from the North American contingent took advantage of the somewhat warmer weather and began exploring the southern reaches. These folks were serious walkers, establishing new colonies all over the two continents, finally reaching Tierra del Fuego in, roughly, one millennium. Do the math to realize just how fast they had to be walking to accomplish this!

    The Asian contingent, on the other hand, was living on a continent with many other human communities, so they couldn't just head off for parts unknown. There are still people on the Arctic coast of eastern Siberia who hunt seals like their American relatives. But there is scarce evidence to identify kinfolk further inland. As far as I know, the only population in Asia that can be identified as relatives of any Native Americans is the Yenisei, the last remnant of a once-larger population that was recognized by other Asian people for a couple of thousand years. These are the people whose language has a spooky resemblance to Navajo and the other languages of the Na-Dene family, which also includes Tlingit and others in the western USA and Canada.

    Unfortunately, there are not quite enough similarities in vocabulary to say definitively that these are the relatives of the Na-Dene people. It could all be coincidence.

    On the other hand, a scientist showed a Navajo family several photos of Yenisei people. A little boy grabbed one and said to the chief, "Daddy, this man looks just like Uncle Ernie!"

    Navajo legend insists that the tribe came into existence right where they live today, in Arizona and New Mexico. The chief stared at the photo for some time, then looked straight into the camera and said, "So apparently what you white men have been trying to tell us for so long is true: We really are all brothers."
     
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    And that speculation - that they had lost the ability to build even crude boats, or net and spear fish, after many, many generations of living inland - is reasonable how?

    Most inland human cultures live on rivers and large lakes, and travel landscapes cut by them. It's the easiest entry to new settlement of a new land.

    Why this assumption that people only build boats as a last resort, when forced to do so? Boats are faster and easier than backpacks and drags, for moving tribes of people around. And we know that the colonizers of the Americas were descended from people who had invented some kind of boat thousands of years before. Boats along coastlines and rivers would be the presumptive choice for the initial colonization of the Americas. You need evidence that they were not employed, not evidence that they were.
     
  13. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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