(PhysOrg.com) -- Archeologists and historians have long known that it wasn’t really Christopher Columbus who discovered America. Native Americans had been living all over North, Central and South America long before he arrived. And Native Americans came from Asia across the frozen-over Bering Sea in the west. But now, it appears Europeans might have been first to arrive on the scene after all. Stone tools found recently in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia in the eastern United States, all appear to bear a striking resemblance to tools used by Stone Age peoples in early Europe, and have been dated to a time between 19,000 and 26,000 years ago, a period during which Stone Age people were making such tools, and long before the early Asians arrived.
It’s not an implausible theory, suggests Dennis Stanford, of the Smithsonian Institution and Bruce Bradley of the University of Exeter, because Stone Age people could have come from Europe by traveling across the ice-bound North Atlantic during the Ice Age. The evidence is further bolstered by the recent discovery that an ancient knife found in Virginia in 1971 was made of flint that originated from France. They two have coauthored a book on the subject, Across Atlantic Ice.
Stanford and Bradley also point out the lack of evidence of any human activity in the north-east part of Siberia or in Alaska any earlier than 15,500 years ago. And the reason early Asians won out, evolving into the people now called Native Americans, was because their window of opportunity was much wider, 15,000 years versus just 4500 for the early Europeans. Thus the original Native Americans were either assimilated or killed by the large numbers of migrating Asians. Evidence that it was likely the former has been found in the DNA of skeletons of North American Native American people. Also, the language of several Native American tribes doesn’t seem to have originated from Asia.
The two also say that it’s conceivable that Stone Age people could have traveled such a long way over ice from Europe to America because there would have been more than enough food to be had from the ocean. It all adds up the two say, to a compelling case for Stone Age travelers being titled as the people who truly did discover America.
Explore further: 110-million-year-old crustacean holds essential piece to evolutionary puzzle