Monday, January 22, 2007

Who were the First Americans?

As discussed yesterday, a Clovis-first theory just does not pan out.

Another theory that does not work is the "Ice-free" corridor theory in the Clovis timeline. This theory states that around 14,000 years ago Paleo-Indians blitzkrieged across barren lands of a freshly opened corridor and populated the Western Hemisphere in less than 500 years. It took Europeans hundreds if not thousands of years to claim lands abandoned by glaciers after the last ice age. The ice-corridor theory in a Clovis timeline suffers from other problems.
  • No archaeological evidence of Clovis or closely related pre-Clovis Indians can be found in Alaska or Siberia. In fact, the Eskimos of the region appear to come from a much more recent migration.
  • An ice-free corridor would be barren for a very long time, scarred by the glaciers and void of life. When it could support people and large game animals it would have also supported a type of extinct bear which could stand erect at 10 feet tall and thought people were delicious.
So where could the Paleo-Indians of come from and how did they reach America? The favored theory now is that they hugged the Pacific coast either walking and/or boating. Near the Monte Verde site there were Indians which lived as a boating culture surviving along the coast huntings seals and fish for protein up until the early twentieth century.

The exact point of origin is also difficult to determine. Genetics and teeth shape point towards the traditional spot of northeast Asia. There are oddities however:
  • Pottery found in Ecuador bears striking similarities to the Ainu (Caucasian Japanese) culture of Japan. Also, the Spanish encountered chickens which laid brown eggs (native Asian chickens do this, not native North American) and the natives used the entrails to forecast the future- another Ainu trait found no where else in the Americas. Before one pushes this fact aside know that Asian fishings were a fairly common site in the New World after the Spanish arrived. Surviving a journey was possible.
  • Another mystery is Haplogroup X. This group is a very scattered one comprising about 2% of Europeans and a fair amount of people in the Near East. It is also surprisingly found 25% of Algonquian speaking people. How this is possible is anyone's guess.

Catholicgauze has no grandiose theories of his own. He just wants people to know about our mysterious world.

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