for National Geographic News
The so-called Clovis people, known for their distinctive spearheads, were not the first humans to set foot in the Americas after all, a new study says.
The find supports growing archaeological evidence found in recent years that disputes the notion that the Americas were originally populated by a single migration of people from Asia about 13,000 years ago.
(Related news: "Americas Settled by Two Groups of Early Humans, Study Says" [December 12, 2005].)
New radiocarbon dating of Clovis-culture materials shows that this group inhabited the Americas a little later and for a shorter period of time than previously believed.
Archaeological evidence of human occupation in South America also dates to the same time as the Clovis-culture materials. This suggests that people were living in the Americas before the Clovis people arrived.
"I look at it as the final nail in the 'Clovis first' coffin," said Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University.
Waters is a co-author of the new study, which appears in today's issue of the journal Science.
The Clovis culture was named after flint spearheads found in the 1930s at a site in Clovis, New Mexico.
Clovis sites have been identified throughout the contiguous United States, as well as in Mexico and Central America.
The Clovis, widely believed to have been mammoth hunters, likely arrived via the Bering land bridge that once linked Asia and Alaska. They then spread rapidly southward.
(Download a printable map of human migration into the Americas [pdf].)
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