Researchers from Iowa State University have suggested that the first people could have arrived in North America more than 30 thousand years ago, and this is almost 20 thousand years earlier than originally thought.
Researcher Andrew Somerville, assistant professor in the anthropology of world languages and cultures, says he and his colleagues made the discovery by studying the origins of agriculture in Mexico’s Tehuacan Valley.
As part of the new work, the authors wanted to establish the date of the earliest human settlement of the Coxcatlan Cave in the valley: they carried out radiocarbon analysis of the remains of a rabbit and deer that were found in the cave in the 1960s.
The age of the bone samples at the base of the cave ranged from 33.4 thousand to 28.2 thousand years. Somerville says that while previous research did not date the items from the bottom of the cave, he did not expect them to be that old.
The new data means that humans arrived in North America more than 30,000 years ago. This means that there were already settlements here before the period of the Last Glacial Maximum.
The new date shifts the appearance of the first people in North America by almost 20 thousand years.