A very interesting post Did humans approach the southern tip of South America more than 18,000 years ago? (19 Nov 2015) at John Hawks blog (thank you Shane) looks into Dillehay et al. paper on the Monte Verde (Chile) site.
I found some very interesting pointers in the blog, and I want to share them with you:
On the rapid peopling of America once modern humans reached it: "There is a school of thought that population growth should have been rapid once humans entered the virgin landscape of the Americas"... "But there may be a problem with the assumption of rapid growth. It assumes that people could rapidly change their strategies to spread into the very different ecologies of inland North and South America.
Maybe it wasn’t so easy for them to develop the technical and organizational innovations necessary to move into those continental ecosystems."
This is a very interesting point. A coastal population living off the resources of the Pacific Ocean's coast, would have to devise new hunting - gathering techniques to tackle the Amazonian rainforest or the Argentine Puna or Patagonia (hunting guanaco and rhea).
An early peopling of America: "The earliest cranial remains we have from both North and South America are surprisingly variable in comparison to later peoples of the Americas. Those skulls suggest the possibility that they represent populations that had already experienced a lot of diversifying evolution by genetic drift. An earlier initial spread of humans across South America might explain that appearance.".
This is an interesting point. It is very clear that America was peopled in waves and not in "one go" from an isolated population in Beringia!.
John Hawks continues: "Could there have been an earlier habitation, now only present in living Native American peoples as traces of a “ghost population” that we haven’t yet identified?
If so, that scenario might explain the evidence for “deep divergence in Native American populations” that Rasmussen et al. (2014) found to predate the 12,600-year-old Clovis-associated Anzick-1 burial."
I have already posted about the odd theory that has man take 50,000 years to reach Australia, 85,000 years to reach Beringia, but only a couple of millennia to span the whole American continent as contended by Bodner, Perego and Parson who asserted "... that the Paleo-Indian spread along the entire longitude of the American double continent might have taken even < 2000 yr." Rapid coastal spread of First Americans: Novel insights from South America's Southern Cone mitochondrial genomes (Martin Bodner, Ugo A. Perego, [...], and Walther Parson).
More sites like Monte Verde will be discovered (funding is scarce in South America) and we will find that humans have been living in the New World for much more than 50 ky. And the recent finding that humans have been living in Southern China for around 120 ky make this even more likely.
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