Human settlement in the Americas may have occurred in the late Pleistocene

August 30, 2017, Public Library of Science
Prehistoric human skeleton in the Chan Hol Cave near Tulúm on the Yucatán peninsula prior to looting by unknown cave divers. Credit: Tom Poole, Liquid Junge Lab

Analysis of a skeleton found in the Chan Hol cave near Tulum, Mexico suggests human settlement in the Americas occurred in the late Pleistocene era, according to a study published August 30, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Wolfgang Stinnesbeck from Universität Heidelberg, Germany, and colleagues.

Scientists have long debated about when humans first settled in the Americas. While osteological evidence of early settlers is fragmentary, researchers have previously discovered and dated well-preserved prehistoric human skeletons in caves in Tulum in Southern Mexico.

To learn more about America's early settlers, Stinnesbeck and colleagues examined human skeletal remains found in the Chan Hol cave near Tulum. The researchers dated the skeleton by analyzing the Uranium, Carbon and Oxygen isotopes found in its bones and in the stalagmite which had grown through its .

The researchers' dated the skeleton to ~13 k BP, or approximately 13,000 years before present. This finding suggests that the Chan Hol cave was accessed during the late Pleistocene, providing one of oldest examples of a human settler in the Americas. While the researchers acknowledge that changes in climate over time may have influenced the dating of the skeleton, future research could potentially disentangle how climate impacted the Chan Hol archaeological record.

Explore further: Study: Early Americas girl 'Naia' may have been young mother

More information: Wolfgang Stinnesbeck et al. The earliest settlers of Mesoamerica date back to the late Pleistocene, PLOS ONE (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183345

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Caliban
5 / 5 (1) Aug 30, 2017
Circular reporting of the study results aside, what this find irrefutably establishes is the presence of humans in the Americas no later than roughly 13KYBP, which is 3,000 years BEFORE the currently accepted arrival estimate of ~10kybp, across the landbridge of Beringia, which has always been proposed as the ORIGINAL populating of the Americas.

Obviously, if human remains from 3,000 years exist in Central America, this fact alone calls into question the whole accepted timeline for the settlement of the Americas by humans.

Time for a rewrite.
syndicate_51
not rated yet Aug 30, 2017
Oh radio dating......
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2017
Circular reporting of the study results aside, what this find irrefutably establishes is the presence of humans in the Americas no later than roughly 13KYBP, which is 3,000 years BEFORE the currently accepted arrival estimate of ~10kybp, across the landbridge of Beringia, which has always been proposed as the ORIGINAL populating of the Americas.

Obviously, if human remains from 3,000 years exist in Central America, this fact alone calls into question the whole accepted timeline for the settlement of the Americas by humans.

Time for a rewrite.

Wikipedia says 16500 (approx)
And I think you meant 3,000 years - PRIOR to the 10KYBP
Caliban
5 / 5 (2) Aug 31, 2017
Circular reporting of the study results aside, what this find irrefutably establishes is the presence of humans in the Americas no later than roughly 13KYBP, which is 3,000 years BEFORE the currently accepted arrival estimate of ~10kybp, across the landbridge of Beringia, which has always been proposed as the ORIGINAL populating of the Americas.

Obviously, if human remains from 3,000 years exist in Central America, this fact alone calls into question the whole accepted timeline for the settlement of the Americas by humans.

Time for a rewrite.

Wikipedia says 16500 (approx)
And I think you meant 3,000 years - PRIOR to the 10KYBP


@WG,

You are right. Righter still would be to mention the recent California find dated to 130KY.
In any case, this one --with pretty uncontroversial dating of conclusively human remains-- already blows a giant hole in the conventional wisdom/currently accepted paradigm.
J Doug
1 / 5 (1) Sep 01, 2017
There is a huge difference between these people who scrounge around in a cave in Mexico and what a real scientist, Thor Heyerdahl, did to try to prove his theory that demonstrated that the first people who settled Polynesia came from the east, not the west with his Kon-Tiki voyage. He gained worldwide fame in 1947 when he crossed the Pacific Ocean on a primitive balsawood raft to prove his theory that South Americans could have originally populated Polynesia, which took more devotion than to dig around in a cave and use carbon dating to come up with what this article maintains.
rrwillsj
5 / 5 (3) Sep 01, 2017
Wow! Where to begin? So I'll start with the last comment.

Thor Heyerdahl and his team (don't forget, his idea but they made it work) proved the possibility of such trans-Pacific voyages. On a foundation of modern knowledge. That did not prove that there had been any successful trips.

Continuing back to trans-Beringia walkers before the last couple of Glacial Periods, still lacks even indefinite evidence. With Global Warming it ;may be easier finding sites and remains.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, without a major investment in new technology for detecting and excavating submerged, coastal sites. We will be missing many pieces of the puzzle. As I think our ancestors were smarter than most bigots will give them credit for.

That Globally, through the continental riverine systems and along the continental coastlines and to a multitude of islands. There was much more waterborne Human trade and migration and exchanges of ideas and knowledge, than realized today.
J Doug
1 / 5 (1) Sep 01, 2017
With Global Warming it ;may be easier finding sites and remains.


rrwillsj; Please explain this statement: "Continuing back to trans-Beringia walkers before the last couple of Glacial Periods, still lacks even indefinite evidence. With Global Warming it ;may be easier finding sites and remains."
If it warms as it has in the past the sea levels will be higher; so, how will that help to find sites?
"Ruins of the old Roman port Ostia Antica, are extremely well preserved – with intact frescoes, maps and plans. Maps from the time show the port located at the mouth of the Tiber River, where it emptied into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Battle of Ostia in 849, depicted in a painting attributed to Raphael, shows sea level high enough for warships to assemble at the mouth of the Tiber. However, today this modern-day tourist destination is two miles up-river from the mouth of the Tiber. Sea level was significantly higher in the Roman Warm Period than today."

J Doug
1 / 5 (1) Sep 01, 2017
"An important turning point in British history occurred in 1066, when William the Conqueror defeated King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. Less well-known is that, when William landed, he occupied an old Roman fort now known as Pevensey Castle, which at the time was located on a small island in a harbor on England's south coast. A draw bridge connected it to the mainland. Pevensey is infamous because unfortunate prisoners were thrown into this "Sea Gate," so that their bodies would be washed away by the tide. Pevensey Castle is now a mile from the coast – further proof of a much higher sea level fewer than 1000 years ago."

It was colder and sea levels were much lower that would have allowed for the transfer of humans and animals across the land bridge& that is easy to believe is what happened.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Sep 01, 2017
@rrwillis, I would argue that this is evidence of trans-Beringial migration thousands of years before it is currently postulated. I'd expect that to be a great deal easier and more natural than sea voyages from Asia to the Eastern Pacific.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Sep 02, 2017
I see we actually have a meeting of the minds here among the commentators. A pleasant change.

The main disagreement seems to be the inability to produce sufficient definitive evidence to prove or disapprove our guesses.

The writers of this report were careful to avoid claiming that their hypothesis is without doubt. They realize that future findings and improving technology may prove this headline wrong.

That's the way Science rolls. You have to be philosophical about your blunders and missed-understandings.

The claim of sea voyages from Asia to the Americas lacks proof.
Instead, I think there were mostly incremental voyages along the coastlines and island hopping. Generation after generation, over tens of thousands of years.

Maybe once in a while, a major migration might survive the seas.

Often driven by religious fervor. Several waves of conquest came out of the Polynesian home islands. The Congregationalist Exodus and Mormons in modern times.
Nick Gotts
not rated yet Sep 03, 2017
"I see we actually have a meeting of the minds here among the commentators."
I see an amazing display of ignorance, starting with the implicit suggestion in the article that there is something new about a late Pleistocene date. The earliest Clovis culture sites date from around 13,000 BP (which is late Pleistocene), and there is increasing but not universal acceptance of a few somewhat earlier pre-Clovis sites, notably Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Pennsylvania and Monte Verde in Chile.
Nick Gotts
not rated yet Sep 03, 2017
As far as Heyerdahl is concerned, genetic evidence since his voyage shows quite clearly that the Polynesians spread from East Asia. It is quite possible some Polynesians (famed long-distance sailors) reached the Americas - long after the latter were originally populated. We know they got as far as Easter Island.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Sep 03, 2017
NG, it's okay when someone disagrees with you. It amuses me when everybody disagrees with me.

An opinion, is only an opinion until it can be backed up with multiple sources and demonstrative experiments.

I may be wrong, you may be wrong, we all may be wrong. Those outsiders are always wrong. It is our monkey instincts to squabble over every nitpick.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2017
Actually the article's not all that good. Pre-Clovis findings are increasingly being discovered across the Americas, with genetic analysis showing that some of these were made by people closely related to today's Native Americans. There are some 15 or 20 sites today that challenge the "Clovis first" orthodoxy. The article, however, never mentions the "Clovis first" controversy.
Nick Gotts
not rated yet Sep 05, 2017
rrwillsj,
I'm not complaining about people disagreeing with me, but about people not bothering to check easily available information before bloviating - an all-too-frequent occurrence on this site, including in articles like this one. That people reached the Americas at the latest by 13,000 BP is already the consensus among the relevant experts.
Nick Gotts
not rated yet Sep 06, 2017
rrwillsj,
I'm not complaining about people disagreeing with me, but about people not bothering to check easily available information before bloviating - an all-too-frequent occurrence on this site, including in articles like this one. That people reached the Americas at the latest by 13,000 BP is already the consensus among the relevant experts.

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