Footprints in New Mexico Prove Humans Got to The Americas Earlier Than We Thought
For decades, controversy surrounds the question of when settlers from Asia first made their way to the Americas. According to new findings published in the journal Science, scientists think the date falls to 7,000 years earlier than was previously disclosed.
This theory has its own bunch of skeptics attached to it as they believe that North America had no human beings inhabiting it earlier than 16,000 years ago. But, challenging said opinion, human footprints dating to around 21,000 to 23,000 years old have recently been discovered by a team working in New Mexico.
More on the Discovery
This new finding has the potential to transform scientific belief over when settlers first migrated to the continent. It also opens more gray areas like possible ancient populations that could have gone extinct without being heard of or entire migrations that we know nothing about.
The White Sands National Park’s Alkali Flat trail once held a shallow lake along which the soft-mud footprints were discovered. Radiocarbon dating carried out by a US Geological Survey team found layers of sediment both below and above the area where the footprints were discovered.
Here’s What the Team Thinks
Judging from the sizes of the prints, scientists weigh up that the strolling group consists of younger children and teenagers – and maybe the occasional adult – traveling back and forth.
While we don’t have exact answers for what this group was doing in the area, it is speculated that they might have been helping their elders in a sort of hunting tradition, which involved driving animals over a shallow cliff edge, termed as the buffalo jump, which was later observed in Native American cultures.
According to Bournemouth University professor and research co-author Dr. Sally Reynolds, these ancient people had a short period of time to process all the animals. They’d have to build fires, render the fat from the animals, etc.
Here’s Why This Discovery is Important
Due to certain stone tools being found in various places in the Americas, there have been countless claims for the first human settlement. But, all of them have been disputed in one way or another because the question boils down to whether or not said tool was preserved in its original form.
Or if it had fallen from a height, such as from a cliff. However, footprints are different. They cannot be relocated. They can’t fall from a cliff. Footprints provide definite answers. And there’s no denying that an ancient human settlement existed in what we now know as the Southwest US about 21,000 to 23,000 years ago.
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