AMES, Iowa - An unexpected discovery by a group from Iowa State University shows the first humans may have arrived in North America 30,000 years ago, which is 20,000 years earlier than originally thought.
The group of anthropologists made the discovery while doing unrelated research in Mexico.
The studied rabbit and deer bones that they traced to more than 33,000 years ago, and are looking into whether those bones were butchered by humans.
“Determining whether the stone artifacts were products of human manufacture or if they were just naturally chipped stones would be one way to get to the bottom of this,” said ISU Assistant Professor of Anthropology Andrew Somerville. “If we can find strong evidence that humans did in fact make and use these tools, that’s another way we can move forward.”
Somerville said the discovery came by chance with no pre-intentions.
“We weren’t trying to weigh in on this debate or even find really old samples. We were just trying to situate our agricultural study with a firmer timeline,” Somerville said. “We were surprised to find these really old dates at the bottom of the cave, and it means that we need to take a closer look at the artifacts recovered from those levels.”
(Image from Iowa State University)