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New Cave Discovery: People Lived in Northern America 33,000 Years Ago

How many statues, and sports team names will have to be changed now that new clues have been found proving that the first people arrived in the Americas more than 30,000 years ago, at least 15,000 years earlier than thought.

Scientists say they’ve discovered a cave in Mexico with artifacts suggesting humans reached the Americas 33,000 years ago. That’s more than 21-thousand years earlier than previously believed.

Archaeologists say they were able to carbon date thousands of stone tools using two different methods to confirm their findings
They say settlers probably crossed from Siberia to America by boat.

The study is published today in the Journal of Nature.

The discovery, which includes hundreds of ancient stone tools, is backed up by a fresh statistical analysis that incorporates data from other sites. But the conclusion has stirred controversy among some researchers.

“When I see a claim being made that is so dramatic, then the evidence has to be there to substantiate the claim,” says archaeologist Kurt Rademaker at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Aside from the stone tools, the team found relatively little evidence of human presence. Geneticists led by Eske Willerslev at the University of Copenhagen searched for ancient human DNA in the cave dirt, but with no luck. “Of course, I was disappointed,” says Ardelean.

If there were people in North America so early, it’s unclear what happened to them. “There continues to be no convincing genetic evidence of a pre-15,000-years-ago human presence in the Americas,” says geneticist David Reich at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.