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Footprints oldest evidence of humans in the Americas 23,000 years old

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  • Footprints oldest evidence of humans in the Americas 23,000 years old

    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58638854




    Earliest definitive evidence of people in Americas


    By Paul Rincon
    Science editor, BBC News website
    Published1 hour ago
    Share

    IMAGE SOURCE,BOURNEMOUTH UNIVERSITYimage captionThe footprints belonged to teenagers and children who lived between 23,000 and 21,000 years ago

    Humans reached the Americas at least 7,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to new findings.

    The topic of when the continent was first settled from Asia has been controversial for decades.

    Many researchers are sceptical of evidence for humans in the North American interior much earlier than 16,000 years ago.

    Now, a team working in New Mexico has found scores of human footprints dated to between 23,000 and 21,000 years old.

    The discovery could transform views about when the continent was settled. It suggests there could have been great migrations that we know nothing about. And it raises the possibility that these earlier populations could have gone extinct.

    The footprints were formed in soft mud on the margins of a shallow lake which now forms part of Alkali Flat in White Sands.
    A team from the US Geological Survey carried out radiocarbon dating on seeds found in sediment layers above and below where the footprints were found. This gave the researchers remarkably precise dates for the impressions themselves.

    © Copyright Original Source




    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  • #2
    Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58638854




    Earliest definitive evidence of people in Americas


    By Paul Rincon
    Science editor, BBC News website
    Published1 hour ago
    Share

    IMAGE SOURCE,BOURNEMOUTH UNIVERSITYimage captionThe footprints belonged to teenagers and children who lived between 23,000 and 21,000 years ago

    Humans reached the Americas at least 7,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to new findings.

    The topic of when the continent was first settled from Asia has been controversial for decades.

    Many researchers are sceptical of evidence for humans in the North American interior much earlier than 16,000 years ago.

    Now, a team working in New Mexico has found scores of human footprints dated to between 23,000 and 21,000 years old.

    The discovery could transform views about when the continent was settled. It suggests there could have been great migrations that we know nothing about. And it raises the possibility that these earlier populations could have gone extinct.

    The footprints were formed in soft mud on the margins of a shallow lake which now forms part of Alkali Flat in White Sands.
    A team from the US Geological Survey carried out radiocarbon dating on seeds found in sediment layers above and below where the footprints were found. This gave the researchers remarkably precise dates for the impressions themselves.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Heard something about that on the radio. They were saying that, if verified, it shows that people were living in present day New Mexico during the height of the Ice Age and 10,000 years before the Clovis culture (which is no longer regarded as the earliest).

    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
    "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
      Heard something about that on the radio. They were saying that, if verified, it shows that people were living in present day New Mexico during the height of the Ice Age and 10,000 years before the Clovis culture (which is no longer regarded as the earliest).
      Whaddaya wanna bet the Mormons seize on this for their narrative about the Nephites, Lamanites, Jaredites and Mulekites in ancient America?

      I bet there are some Mormon professors somewhere jumping up and down rejoicing --- "there's PROOF!!!"
      The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

        Whaddaya wanna bet the Mormons seize on this for their narrative about the Nephites, Lamanites, Jaredites and Mulekites in ancient America?

        I bet there are some Mormon professors somewhere jumping up and down rejoicing --- "there's PROOF!!!"
        The evidence is for primitive Neolithic humans not Mormons. No Book of the Mormon found.
        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

        go with the flow the river knows . . .

        Frank

        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post

          The evidence is for primitive Neolithic humans not Mormons. No Book of the Mormon found.
          That has never kept the Mormons from making such claims.

          And I was talking to my brudder, not you.
          The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

            That has never kept the Mormons from making such claims.

            And I was talking to my brudder, not you.
            Sorry, I did not see the post was addressed to Joseph Smith
            Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
            Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
            But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

            go with the flow the river knows . . .

            Frank

            I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

            Comment


            • #7
              A bit more detail.

              It appears that the researchers used some seeds embedded in the tracks, which were buried in layers of soil, to calculate the age of the fossil prints (an ichnofossil), and most of the prints were made by teens and children.

              Source: Ancient Footprints Yield Surprising New Clues About the First Americans


              Unearthed in New Mexico along what was once a lakefront, the tracks show generations living in the area thousands of years before many scientists believed

              At the height of the last Ice Age, generations of children and teenagers ambled barefoot along a muddy lakefront in what is now New Mexico, crossing paths with mammoths, giant ground sloths and an extinct canine species known as dire wolves.

              Now, some 23,000 years later, the young people’s fossilized footprints are yielding new insights into when humans first populated the Americas. Unearthed in White Sands National Park by a research team that began its work in 2016, the tracks are about 10,000 years older and about 1,600 miles farther south than any other human footprints known in America, scientists reported Thursday in the journal Science.

              “It is, in my view, the first unequivocal evidence of human presence in the Americas” during the last Ice Age, Daniel Odess, chief of science and research at the U.S. National Park Service and a senior author of the report, said of the discovery. “The footprints are inarguably human.”


              im-404137.jpg
              Evidence of humans in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum



              For decades, many scientists were convinced that humans first arrived in the Americas as recently as 13,000 years ago, reaching the continent after crossing an ice-free land bridge from Asia or by sea along the Pacific coast on the journey from humanity’s African homeland. Others argued that they arrived about 16,000 years ago, or even as much as 30,000 years ago. There simply wasn’t enough evidence in the fossil record to settle the debate.

              But the newly found footprints show that humans lived in the American Southwest in an era when massive ice sheets blocked the way for migrants from Asia to the New World, the researchers said.

              “This definitely gives a really strong boost to the argument that humans were living in North America at this time, much earlier than previously thought,” said Kevin Hatala, a paleobiologist at Chatham University in Pittsburgh who studies the evolution of human walking. “If the dating holds up, then this adds to this growing body of evidence that humans are in North America during this period.” He wasn’t involved in the discovery.

              In all, a research team led by scientists from Bournemouth University in Poole, England, discovered 61 human trackways preserved in seven layers of silt, clay and sand.

              Under most circumstances, fossilized footprints are impossible to date precisely. But these were interleaved with sediments containing seeds of aquatic plants that once flourished along the lake. Radiocarbon dating of the plants showed that the footprints were 21,000 years to 23,000 years old.

              The footprints represent 10 to 15 individuals and were laid down over a period of 2,000 years, mostly by children and adolescents, the scientists said. No one knows what drew the people to the spot. So far, there is no sign of campfires, tools or other artifacts.

              There is little difference between modern feet and the ancient feet that made the footprints, the scientists found. “They are very normal feet,” said Matthew Bennett, a specialist in ancient footprints at Bournemouth and the leader of the research team. “The toes are nicely defined.”

              The prehistoric feet that left the tracks appear to have been flat, which the scientists said might have been caused by a lifetime of walking barefoot.

              In addition to giving clues about the people who made them, the footprints hint at their behavior, showing, for example, whether the people were running, carrying a heavy load or even hunting. “They’re preserving evidence of really compelling narratives about what might be going on at this time and place in prehistory,” said Dr. Hatala.

              In earlier work published in 2018, the scientists described an undated set of fossilized human tracks at the White Sands site that they believe were made by people stalking a giant sloth. The tracks overlapped those of the sloth, suggesting a pursuit.

              “We will never see humans interacting with giant sloths, but the footprints are telling us the sloths were scared of humans and the humans were confident,” said Sally Reynolds, a paleontologist at Bournemouth and a member of the research team.

              The scientists also uncovered what they believe to be the footprints of a prehistoric woman who traveled for almost a mile with a toddler, sometimes carrying the child and sometimes making the young one walk by her side. It is the longest fossilized human trackway ever discovered, according to their research, which was published in 2018 in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

              “We have found layer upon layer upon layer of human footprints, each layer taking us more deeply into the past,” Dr. Reynolds said. “It is pushing back human occupation of the Americas to before the Ice Age. People are having to revise their ideas of the first peopling of the Americas.”



              Source

              © Copyright Original Source



              The abstract from the paper, Evidence of humans in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum can be read below and includes the "forward" preceding the abstract itself.

              Early footsteps in the Americas

              Despite a plethora of archaeological research over the past century, the timing of human migration into the Americas is still far from resolved. In a study of exposed outcrops of Lake Otero in White Sands National Park in New Mexico, Bennett et al. reveal numerous human footprints dating to about 23,000 to 21,000 years ago. These finds indicate the presence of humans in North America for approximately two millennia during the Last Glacial Maximum south of the migratory barrier created by the ice sheets to the north. This timing coincided with a Northern Hemispheric abrupt warming event, Dansgaard-Oeschger event 2, which drew down lake levels and allowed humans and megafauna to walk on newly exposed surfaces, creating tracks that became preserved in the geologic record. —AMS
              Abstract

              Archaeologists and researchers in allied fields have long sought to understand human colonization of North America. Questions remain about when and how people migrated, where they originated, and how their arrival affected the established fauna and landscape. Here, we present evidence from excavated surfaces in White Sands National Park (New Mexico, United States), where multiple in situ human footprints are stratigraphically constrained and bracketed by seed layers that yield calibrated radiocarbon ages between ~23 and 21 thousand years ago. These findings confirm the presence of humans in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum, adding evidence to the antiquity of human colonization of the Americas and providing a temporal range extension for the coexistence of early inhabitants and Pleistocene megafauna.




              I'm always still in trouble again

              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
              "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                A bit more detail.

                It appears that the researchers used some seeds embedded in the tracks, which were buried in layers of soil, to calculate the age of the fossil prints (an ichnofossil), and most of the prints were made by teens and children.

                Source: Ancient Footprints Yield Surprising New Clues About the First Americans


                Unearthed in New Mexico along what was once a lakefront, the tracks show generations living in the area thousands of years before many scientists believed

                At the height of the last Ice Age, generations of children and teenagers ambled barefoot along a muddy lakefront in what is now New Mexico, crossing paths with mammoths, giant ground sloths and an extinct canine species known as dire wolves.

                Now, some 23,000 years later, the young people’s fossilized footprints are yielding new insights into when humans first populated the Americas. Unearthed in White Sands National Park by a research team that began its work in 2016, the tracks are about 10,000 years older and about 1,600 miles farther south than any other human footprints known in America, scientists reported Thursday in the journal Science.

                “It is, in my view, the first unequivocal evidence of human presence in the Americas” during the last Ice Age, Daniel Odess, chief of science and research at the U.S. National Park Service and a senior author of the report, said of the discovery. “The footprints are inarguably human.”


                im-404137.jpg
                Evidence of humans in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum



                For decades, many scientists were convinced that humans first arrived in the Americas as recently as 13,000 years ago, reaching the continent after crossing an ice-free land bridge from Asia or by sea along the Pacific coast on the journey from humanity’s African homeland. Others argued that they arrived about 16,000 years ago, or even as much as 30,000 years ago. There simply wasn’t enough evidence in the fossil record to settle the debate.

                But the newly found footprints show that humans lived in the American Southwest in an era when massive ice sheets blocked the way for migrants from Asia to the New World, the researchers said.

                “This definitely gives a really strong boost to the argument that humans were living in North America at this time, much earlier than previously thought,” said Kevin Hatala, a paleobiologist at Chatham University in Pittsburgh who studies the evolution of human walking. “If the dating holds up, then this adds to this growing body of evidence that humans are in North America during this period.” He wasn’t involved in the discovery.

                In all, a research team led by scientists from Bournemouth University in Poole, England, discovered 61 human trackways preserved in seven layers of silt, clay and sand.

                Under most circumstances, fossilized footprints are impossible to date precisely. But these were interleaved with sediments containing seeds of aquatic plants that once flourished along the lake. Radiocarbon dating of the plants showed that the footprints were 21,000 years to 23,000 years old.

                The footprints represent 10 to 15 individuals and were laid down over a period of 2,000 years, mostly by children and adolescents, the scientists said. No one knows what drew the people to the spot. So far, there is no sign of campfires, tools or other artifacts.

                There is little difference between modern feet and the ancient feet that made the footprints, the scientists found. “They are very normal feet,” said Matthew Bennett, a specialist in ancient footprints at Bournemouth and the leader of the research team. “The toes are nicely defined.”

                The prehistoric feet that left the tracks appear to have been flat, which the scientists said might have been caused by a lifetime of walking barefoot.

                In addition to giving clues about the people who made them, the footprints hint at their behavior, showing, for example, whether the people were running, carrying a heavy load or even hunting. “They’re preserving evidence of really compelling narratives about what might be going on at this time and place in prehistory,” said Dr. Hatala.

                In earlier work published in 2018, the scientists described an undated set of fossilized human tracks at the White Sands site that they believe were made by people stalking a giant sloth. The tracks overlapped those of the sloth, suggesting a pursuit.

                “We will never see humans interacting with giant sloths, but the footprints are telling us the sloths were scared of humans and the humans were confident,” said Sally Reynolds, a paleontologist at Bournemouth and a member of the research team.

                The scientists also uncovered what they believe to be the footprints of a prehistoric woman who traveled for almost a mile with a toddler, sometimes carrying the child and sometimes making the young one walk by her side. It is the longest fossilized human trackway ever discovered, according to their research, which was published in 2018 in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

                “We have found layer upon layer upon layer of human footprints, each layer taking us more deeply into the past,” Dr. Reynolds said. “It is pushing back human occupation of the Americas to before the Ice Age. People are having to revise their ideas of the first peopling of the Americas.”



                Source

                © Copyright Original Source



                The abstract from the paper, Evidence of humans in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum can be read below and includes the "forward" preceding the abstract itself.

                Early footsteps in the Americas

                Despite a plethora of archaeological research over the past century, the timing of human migration into the Americas is still far from resolved. In a study of exposed outcrops of Lake Otero in White Sands National Park in New Mexico, Bennett et al. reveal numerous human footprints dating to about 23,000 to 21,000 years ago. These finds indicate the presence of humans in North America for approximately two millennia during the Last Glacial Maximum south of the migratory barrier created by the ice sheets to the north. This timing coincided with a Northern Hemispheric abrupt warming event, Dansgaard-Oeschger event 2, which drew down lake levels and allowed humans and megafauna to walk on newly exposed surfaces, creating tracks that became preserved in the geologic record. —AMS
                Abstract

                Archaeologists and researchers in allied fields have long sought to understand human colonization of North America. Questions remain about when and how people migrated, where they originated, and how their arrival affected the established fauna and landscape. Here, we present evidence from excavated surfaces in White Sands National Park (New Mexico, United States), where multiple in situ human footprints are stratigraphically constrained and bracketed by seed layers that yield calibrated radiocarbon ages between ~23 and 21 thousand years ago. These findings confirm the presence of humans in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum, adding evidence to the antiquity of human colonization of the Americas and providing a temporal range extension for the coexistence of early inhabitants and Pleistocene megafauna.


                Found a better source than the WSJ; an article in the journal Nature:

                Source: Ancient footprints could be oldest traces of humans in the Americas[/cite


                Children left tracks in New Mexico around 22,500 years ago — thousands of years before most scientists thought humans settled in North America.

                White Sands National Park, in southern New Mexico, is known for chalk-coloured dunes that stretch for hundreds of square kilometres. But at the height of the last Ice Age, the region was wetter and grassier. Mammoths, giant sloths and other animals walked the muddy shores of shallow lakes that grew and shrank with the seasons. And they had company.

                In a landmark study published on 23 September in Science1, researchers suggest that human footprints from an ancient lakeshore in the park date to between 21,000 and 23,000 years old. If the dating is accurate — which specialists say is likely — the prints represent the earliest unequivocal evidence of human occupation anywhere in the Americas.

                “The evidence is very convincing and extremely exciting,” says Tom Higham, an archaeological scientist and radiocarbon-dating expert at the University of Vienna. “I am convinced that these footprints genuinely are of the age claimed.”

                The dates raise questions about when and how humans from Siberia settled in the region, with evidence growing that they skirted the Pacific coast while inland routes were entrenched in ice. The authors of the study say the footprints give credence to contentious evidence of even earlier signs of settlement in the Americas.

                “The paper makes a very compelling case that these footprints are not only human, but they’re older than 20,000 years,” says Spencer Lucas, a palaeontologist at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science in Albuquerque. “That’s a game-changer.”

                Rocky evidence

                For decades, archaeologists associated the earliest Americans with 11,000–13,000-year-old stone spear points and other vestiges of ‘Clovis’ culture (named after another New Mexico site, but found throughout North America). The dates coincide with the recession of a continent-size glacier, which created an ice-free corridor through central Canada.

                The discovery of numerous 'pre-Clovis' archaeological sites, from Alaska to the tip of South America, dating to as old as 16,000 years, sowed doubts about the ‘Clovis-first’ hypothesis and argued for a coastal migration route from Siberia.

                Research journals are dotted with claims of even earlier sites, including a controversial Nature paper that put humans in California 130,000 years ago2. But many of these claims have been discounted because of the equivocality of the evidence: rocks potentially mistaken for tools, marks on animal bones that might have been made by natural processes — or diggers, in the case of the California claim — rather than butchery.

                White Sands is filled with human and animal fossil footprints — in 2018, the same team that found the tracks in the latest paper documented a giant sloth hunt on a dried-up lake bed known as a playa3. But these tracks are notoriously difficult to date, says study co-author Matthew Bennett, a geoscientist at Bournemouth University in Poole, UK, who specializes in the study of fossil footprints. “Every time you uncover something it’s a potentially a different age. Dating is a nightmare.”

                Ancient seeds

                In 2019, study co-author David Bustos, an archaeologist and resource manager at White Sands, identified a site on the playa that had tracks that led right into layers of rock-hard sediment. The rock contained seeds of spiral ditchgrass (Ruppia cirrhosa), an aquatic plant that could be carbon-dated to determine the age of the tracks. “That’s the holy grail of trying to date footprints,” says Bennett.

                He and his colleagues weren’t surprised when radiocarbon dating by researchers at the US Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado, determined that the seeds were between 21,000 and 23,000 years old, because a previous small-scale excavation had dated the sediment to around the same time. But Bennett says the team knew that claims of human occupation at this age would draw extreme scrutiny.

                So they attempted to address factors that could skew the seeds’ ages. The most likely was a phenomenon whereby organisms incorporate carbon that has leached into the water from nearby rocks, such as calcium carbonate in limestone. Such carbon sources tend to be much older than the carbon in Earth’s atmosphere.

                The researchers say such ‘reservoir effects’ are unlikely. They dated hundreds of seeds in different sediment layers and their ages fell into line, with older seeds at the bottom, younger on top. If the seeds had incorporated old carbon, there would probably have been more variation, says co-author Daniel Odess, an archaeologist at the US National Park Service in Washington DC. At a site in the region that didn’t have any footprints, spiral ditchweed seeds date to the same age as charcoal in the same layer — which is not subject to reservoir effects.

                “I really think those ages are okay,” says Thomas Stafford, an experimental geochronologist at Stafford Research Laboratories in Lafayette, Colorado. Even a 1,000-year error wouldn’t tarnish the importance of the footprints, he points out. “Whether people were here 20,000, or 22,000, or 19,000 years ago, does not change their incredible story,” Stafford adds. “We have human footprints.”

                Teenage tracks

                The team determined that the several dozen tracks probably belonged to numerous individuals, mostly children and teenagers. “To me this makes perfect sense,” says Odess. “When I was young I was always heading to the water. Stream, river, pond, whatever it was. Given the chance, I would probably walk in mud more than dry ground.”

                Karen Moreno, a palaeoichnologist at Austral University of Chile in Valdivia, has no doubt that the tracks are human. She isn’t yet convinced that they were mostly made by children, because these estimates are based on the statures of modern people. But she says the tracks could shine a light on the earliest humans in America. “This older community most probably had a different and complex way of life.”

                Now that there is strong evidence that humans settled the Americas more than 20,000 years ago, researchers should grapple with the consequences, says Bennett. He hopes the White Sands footprints will force researchers to reconsider sites that have more equivocal evidence of early human occupation.

                David Meltzer, an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, is convinced by the White Sands footprints, but disagrees that they give credence to the more controversial sites. However, if stone tools or other artefacts associated with the track-makers could be discovered, this could allow such connections to be drawn, Meltzer adds.

                The footprints make it “extremely likely” that the ancestors of the White Sands humans and other early settlers travelled along the Pacific coast, says Higham. The next step will be to identify the people who arrived through these Ice Age voyages, he adds. “An urgent research priority is not just to find footprints such as these, but the remains of the people who made them.”


                Source

                © Copyright Original Source




                Here is a picture of the excavation trench in which they were found.


                d41586-021-02597-1_19689564.jpg
                Excavations in White Sands National Park reveal human footprints at the base of a trench




                What are the odds of digging there and finding them? Makes you wonder if there might be a lot more.

                I'm always still in trouble again

                "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

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