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  #1  
Old 11-13-2012, 06:58 PM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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The first inhabitants of the Americas came from the Bering Strait?

Years ago the consensus was that 100% of the first inhabitants of the Americas came from the Bering Strait. There has been much DNA analysis. What is the current view on this?
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  #2  
Old 11-13-2012, 07:38 PM
ITR champion ITR champion is offline
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Other theories, such as that there was a migration from Europe to northeast North America tens of thousands of years before anyone crossed the Bering Strait, have gained currency in recent years, but there's no definite answer. The main controversy surrounds the dating of archaeological sites in the Americas. Some archaeologists still hold to the Clovis Barrier, the idea that there were no inhabitants of the Americas before roughly 11,000 B.C. Others reject that theory and there are numerous hypotheses regarding migrations prior to that date.
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Old 11-13-2012, 11:24 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Other theories, such as that there was a migration from Europe to northeast North America tens of thousands of years before anyone crossed the Bering Strait, have gained currency in recent years, but there's no definite answer.
That idea has been pretty much discounted by most archaeologists.

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The main controversy surrounds the dating of archaeological sites in the Americas. Some archaeologists still hold to the Clovis Barrier, the idea that there were no inhabitants of the Americas before roughly 11,000 B.C. Others reject that theory and there are numerous hypotheses regarding migrations prior to that date.
There may be a few holdouts, but there are very few archaeologists who still ascribe to the "Clovis first" dogma. The majority accept that the Monteverde site in Chile predates Clovis, and there is increasing good evidence of pre-Clovis site in North America as well.

The main controversy these days is the relative importance of coastal routes, that skirted the ice sheets in western North America, versus migrations via inland routes after the ice partly melted.

Last edited by Colibri; 11-13-2012 at 11:24 PM..
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:27 AM
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I'll add that, AFAIK, current consensus is that there were at least three very distinct migrations across the Bering zone. The last one was the proto-Inuit, the middle one was the proto-Na-Dene (Navajo and Athabaskans, who are lingustically and geneticlly quite different from everyone else), and the the first one was proto-everyone-else (sometimes lumped together as "Amerind").

As others have mentioned, the dating for the first wave is disputed. The dating for the last wave is recent enough to be less disputed. Anyone know about the iddle wave -- the Na-Dene? I think that's a matter of dispute as well. Basically something like "about a thousand years after the first wave -- whwtever you think that first-wave date might be."
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:06 AM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post

There may be a few holdouts, but there are very few archaeologists who still ascribe to the "Clovis first" dogma. The majority accept that the Monteverde site in Chile predates Clovis, and there is increasing good evidence of pre-Clovis site in North America as well.

.
Unless something was chasing these people, it would have taken many generations to go from the Bering Strait to Chile, no? Are the archaeologists suggesting that these people had no long term settlements along the route? Do they believe they traveled by sea to Chile?
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:13 AM
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Unless something was chasing these people, it would have taken many generations to go from the Bering Strait to Chile, no? Are the archaeologists suggesting that these people had no long term settlements along the route? Do they believe they traveled by sea to Chile?
First, there wouldn't need to be pressure behind: so long as there was no pressure in front (i.e., going ahead was relatively easy), the more adventurous people would keep on moving in search of that greener grass a few hills ahead.

Second, it is possible to have those go ahead while other stay behind, spreading all over the place. That first wave didn't go over Bering and all-together-right-now head to Tierra del Fuego without leaving anybody behind, they spread.
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:29 AM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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First, there wouldn't need to be pressure behind: so long as there was no pressure in front (i.e., going ahead was relatively easy), the more adventurous people would keep on moving in search of that greener grass a few hills ahead.

Second, it is possible to have those go ahead while other stay behind, spreading all over the place. That first wave didn't go over Bering and all-together-right-now head to Tierra del Fuego without leaving anybody behind, they spread.
Would they have fled glaciation in the North and Midwest, and fled their in-laws after that?
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:31 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Unless something was chasing these people, it would have taken many generations to go from the Bering Strait to Chile, no? Are the archaeologists suggesting that these people had no long term settlements along the route? Do they believe they traveled by sea to Chile?
No, but that doesn't mean that a given archeologist is going to accept the dating of a given site in N.A. Everyone expects there to be such sites, but you still have to rigorously prove the dates. And some of the sites are on the East Coast of the US-- not necessarily a route they would have taken from Alaska to Chile.

Last edited by John Mace; 11-14-2012 at 08:33 AM..
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:37 AM
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Would they have fled glaciation in the North and Midwest, and fled their in-laws after that?
Or their mothers...
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:43 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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Years ago the consensus was that 100% of the first inhabitants of the Americas came from the Bering Strait. There has been much DNA analysis. What is the current view on this?
The Solutrean hypothesis that envisions people crossing via sea ice from France and Spain was an ingenious conjecture, but there is very little evidence in favor of it and considerable evidence against. See especially the section in that article recent genetic research.
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:03 AM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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Well, I had hoped to glean more information from this post, but alas it died a sudden death. Did I put it in the wrong forum? Or would people rather discuss peeing or pooping their pants?
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:15 AM
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Well, I had hoped to glean more information from this post, but alas it died a sudden death. Did I put it in the wrong forum? Or would people rather discuss peeing or pooping their pants?
Well, excuuuuse us. Did you read the links that were supplied?

You may be expecting definite answers in a field where knowledge changes rapidly and opinions abound, even among experts. Over the past 50 years, the scientific community has debated many migration possibilities and made some interesting discoveries (check out Kennewick Man). DNA analysis is ongoing, and you can expect some fluctuation in our knowledge in the next 50 years, too.

We'll try to keep you posted.
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:19 AM
Esox Lucius Esox Lucius is offline
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There's tantalizing, but inconclusive, evidence that the first visitors to the Americas were from farther south in Asia, not from Siberia. Kennewick Man in Washington State and many skeletons in South America look more Polynesian than Siberian, and are among the oldest skeletons found in the Americas. When the Spaniards first reached the West Coast in the 1500's, there were tribes on the Baja Peninsula (that have since died out) who were physically and linguistically distinct from other tribes, and might have been the last remnants of these people. If they were indeed from southern Asia, they might have intentionally island-hopped across the Pacific, or been accidentally blown across, rather than cross the Bering land bridge.

ETA: Sorry, I don't have anything about pooping in pants.

Last edited by Esox Lucius; 11-16-2012 at 10:22 AM..
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:32 AM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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Well, excuuuuse us.
With all do respect cat, I wasn't making a value judgement. Simply a question if this post was in the wrong forum. Being the new kid here, I am just gathering information on the working of this MB. This is my first and only MB. And I have already learned a great deal. Gracias and thank you for the reply and link.
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:07 AM
hajario hajario is online now
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
First, there wouldn't need to be pressure behind: so long as there was no pressure in front (i.e., going ahead was relatively easy), the more adventurous people would keep on moving in search of that greener grass a few hills ahead.

Second, it is possible to have those go ahead while other stay behind, spreading all over the place. That first wave didn't go over Bering and all-together-right-now head to Tierra del Fuego without leaving anybody behind, they spread.
Obviously. That doesn't answer the question though.

There is a claim that the oldest site is way down at the southern tip of South America. It would follow that there was some route to get there. Why aren't there older sites long the way or is it that they were hunters/gatherers until they reached the end?
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:00 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Because if there is low population density, there are very few human habitation sites to begin with. And then only a fraction of those human habitation sites are preserved for tens of thousands of years. And then only a fraction of those preserved sites are discovered. And only a fraction of those discovered sites can be dated conclusively.

There are probably tens of thousands of artifacts gathering dust in museum drawers all over North America that are older than the Monteverde artifacts. But we'll never know, because they were taken from sites before good dating techniques were available, or the sites lacked good dating diagnostics, or rigorous dating was never done for the site because of lack of time, money, and expertise.

The earliest humans to reach the Americas encountered a nearly unprecedented environment. A place where there are no neighboring human beings who would resent the fact that you're wandering over their territory. Most people in the world can't just pick up and move a couple of miles away from their annoying neighbors, because no matter where you go there are already neighbors already living there, unless you move to an extremely marginal environment. The Americas were immensely rich environments with no people, you could move anywhere you wanted and start hunting the naive animals that lived there.

So the first waves of colonization were likely at very low population densities, extremely low densities even for hunter-gatherers. And so there were very few sites created during this time because very few humans lived in the Americas. It's only after hundreds of years of population growth that you have enough habitation sites to expect to regularly find remains of them.
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:39 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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There's tantalizing, but inconclusive, evidence that the first visitors to the Americas were from farther south in Asia, not from Siberia. Kennewick Man in Washington State and many skeletons in South America look more Polynesian than Siberian, and are among the oldest skeletons found in the Americas. When the Spaniards first reached the West Coast in the 1500's, there were tribes on the Baja Peninsula (that have since died out) who were physically and linguistically distinct from other tribes, and might have been the last remnants of these people. If they were indeed from southern Asia, they might have intentionally island-hopped across the Pacific, or been accidentally blown across, rather than cross the Bering land bridge.

ETA: Sorry, I don't have anything about pooping in pants.
Couple things. First off, we don't know what Polynesians looked like 10k years ago, so it's not really accurate to say that Kennewick man looks "Polynesian". I know this is often reported in the press, but I cringe every time I read it.

Secondly, IIRC, even the South Asian hypothesis allows for the possibility that the migrants took a sea route hugging land north through Asia and then along the Aleutians and then south. I don't believe the idea is that they island hopped as the more modern Polynesians did.
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:58 PM
The Hamster King The Hamster King is online now
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I don't believe the idea is that they island hopped as the more modern Polynesians did.
Agreed. The chronology of the settlement of the Pacific is fairly well worked out and proceeded in waves as the people who eventually became the Polynesians gradually developed a more and more sophisticated toolkit for long-distance navigation. The final wave of settlement where the Polynesians made the sort of epic journeys required to reach Hawaii and Easter Island only happened about 1500 years ago. There is no way that Polynesian or proto-Polynesian peoples could have crossed the open Pacific before the beginning of the Common Era.
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:43 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by harmonicamoon View Post
Unless something was chasing these people, it would have taken many generations to go from the Bering Strait to Chile, no? Are the archaeologists suggesting that these people had no long term settlements along the route? Do they believe they traveled by sea to Chile?
As Lemur866 has explained, when populations were at very low density sites are going to be few and far between. However, in the case of coastal migrations, another factor helps explain why sites may be so few. During the glacial periods, so much ice was locked up in the ice caps and glaciers that sea level was much lower than at present. If these migrants were culturally adapted to using coastal resources, their campsites are now mainly going to be underwater now. In fact, there are cases of stone tools having been dredged up from coastal waters.

Besides this, the "Clovis first" dogma was entrenched so long in North American archaeology that possibly older sites were dismissed or misinterpreted. Many of these sites are now being more critically examined.

Last year some of the most definitive evidence on a pre-Clovis site from Buttermilk Creek, Texas, was published in Science.

Here's a story on pre-Clovis DNA found in coprolites (fossil feces) in Oregon.

Last edited by Colibri; 11-16-2012 at 02:50 PM..
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Old 11-16-2012, 03:15 PM
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As Lemur866 has explained, when populations were at very low density sites are going to be few and far between. However, in the case of coastal migrations, another factor helps explain why sites may be so few. During the glacial periods, so much ice was locked up in the ice caps and glaciers that sea level was much lower than at present. If these migrants were culturally adapted to using coastal resources, their campsites are now mainly going to be underwater now. In fact, there are cases of stone tools having been dredged up from coastal waters.
I just want to point out, that at least here in SE Alaska. In addition to the ocean level lowering due to amount of ice locked up in the glaciers. The sheer weight of the glaciers actually compressed the land into the ocean. This created a frontal bulge in the land as it was compressed, much like the bulge that rides in front of a rolling pin when flattening dough. With the melting of the glaciers the land then rebounded, putting many village sites hundreds of feet above the current ocean level. Only within the last few years have they started to develop models to predict village sites based on the historical ebb and flow of the ocean level.
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Old 11-16-2012, 04:17 PM
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I just happened upon this article that relates to our discussion. This is ca. 12,000 years ago:

California Islands Give Up Evidence of Early Seafaring: Numerous Artifacts Found at Late Pleistocene Sites On the Channel Islands
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:02 PM
cougar58 cougar58 is offline
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The Solutrean hypothesis that envisions people crossing via sea ice from France and Spain was an ingenious conjecture, but there is very little evidence in favor of it and considerable evidence against. See especially the section in that article recent genetic research.
"Soul Train Hypothesis?" AKA the "hippest trip to America"
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  #23  
Old 11-16-2012, 06:31 PM
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What has not been considered here is panspermia. Interstellar transportation of early life to NA
is not out of the question. As evolution is in the habit of evolving, the growth to man having taken possibly billions of years could have happened in NA, from start till now. Panspermia could have been the kick start of a shorter or quicker version of our accent in our native lands.

Our family tree may have a unique branch from much further away than Asia, Europe or even aboriginal Africa.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:45 PM
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Your contention is that two completely separate groups of humans evolved on earth while separated by oceans, and billions of years later they were just lucky to be almost exactly identical and to be able to successfully reproduce?
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:03 PM
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What has not been considered here is panspermia. Interstellar transportation of early life to NA is not out of the question.
There's a very good reason why it isn't considered. It's absurd and there's no evidence to suggest it ever happened. It's a new-age fantasy.
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:13 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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What has not been considered here is panspermia. Interstellar transportation of early life to NA
is not out of the question. As evolution is in the habit of evolving, the growth to man having taken possibly billions of years could have happened in NA, from start till now. Panspermia could have been the kick start of a shorter or quicker version of our accent in our native lands.

Our family tree may have a unique branch from much further away than Asia, Europe or even aboriginal Africa.
Actually, we have sufficient information to know that this did not happen. DNA mapping shows a continuous flow of minute changes originating in Africa and extending around the world. There is no abrupt leap in DNA from Eurasia or Africa to the Americas. Instead, we find the slow accumulation of differences steadily moving from Africa into Eurasia, then into Australia and Oceania and into the Americas. In addition, we have not found any fossil evidence of humanoid precursors in the Americas.

In the early 1950s, before we understood just how fundamental DNA is, we could entertain notions of polygenesis and a panspermian origin of that polygenesis could be conjectured. (Even then it was only a wild conjecture that had little to support it.)
However, ever since the discoveries of Crick, Watson, Wilkins, and Franklin the notion of polygenesis began to be shown to be less of a possibility until decades ago it finally lost any hope to be any more than a dead end branch of speculation.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:01 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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is not out of the question.
It is, actually, based on all available evidence.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:05 AM
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It's a new-age fantasy.
Much like Mr. Twain, you repeat yourself...
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:27 PM
bonitahi bonitahi is offline
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Your contention is that two completely separate groups of humans evolved on earth while separated by oceans, and billions of years later they were just lucky to be almost exactly identical and to be able to successfully reproduce?
I would leave luck out of it but yes, that is my contention.
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:39 PM
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Thank you both tomndebb & Colibri for directing my thinking to more empirical thinking.

Can we rule panspermia out by saying there was no original life landing of alien bacteria-virus in Africa where man evolved from?
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:35 PM
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Much like Mr. Twain, you repeat yourself...
Jayjay, you, I, and the esteemed Mr. Twain, have been around here too long.
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:09 PM
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I believe I read in 1491 by Charles Mann that there might have been peoples that migrated from Australia to South America 10's of thousands of years ago. I no longer have that book. Is there any DNA to support this?
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:19 PM
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I believe I read in 1491 by Charles Mann that there might have been peoples that migrated from Australia to South America 10's of thousands of years ago. I no longer have that book. Is there any DNA to support this?
IANAAnthropologist, but I don't believe so. Interestingly, Thor Heyerdahl showed that migration in the opposite direction (S. America to Easter Island and on to Polynesia) was possible, but that doesn't mean it was accomplished, let alone common. Considering the difficult, extreme distances across the Pacific Ocean compared to the relatively easy coastal-following north-south routes, it seems far, far, far less likely.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:59 AM
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Can we rule panspermia out by saying there was no original life landing of alien bacteria-virus in Africa where man evolved from?
Whether or not panspermia occurred, we can rule out separate colonization events on different continents. All life on Earth has a single origin, and certainly has not been evolving separately on different continents for billions of years. The continents themselves did not exist in their present form billions of years ago, and South America and Africa were part of the same continent as recently as 120 million years ago.

The idea is contradicted by everything we know about genetics, evolution, Earth history, and paleontology.
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:01 PM
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There is a claim that the oldest site is way down at the southern tip of South America. It would follow that there was some route to get there. Why aren't there older sites long the way or is it that they were hunters/gatherers until they reached the end?
I've read speculation that these sites may be the resut of a single-event crossing from Australia. I do not believe there is evidence to support that, though.

Australia has been peopled for at least 40 000 years, and probably had at least three waves of migration. As the theory goes, the circumpolar current around the Antarctic is fast, stable, and would take someone lost at sea south of Australia pretty straight from Australia to South America. Such as crossing would be very hard to survive, but if you did, thats where you'd end up.

The late colonization of New Zealand argues against this theory.

Last edited by Grim Render; 11-18-2012 at 12:02 PM..
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:05 PM
hajario hajario is online now
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I've read speculation that these sites may be the resut of a single-event crossing from Australia. I do not believe there is evidence to support that, though.

Australia has been peopled for at least 40 000 years, and probably had at least three waves of migration. As the theory goes, the circumpolar current around the Antarctic is fast, stable, and would take someone lost at sea south of Australia pretty straight from Australia to South America. Such as crossing would be very hard to survive, but if you did, thats where you'd end up.

The late colonization of New Zealand argues against this theory.
After reading the great responses to this thread, I am inclined to believe that most of them were on the coast at the time and are now underwater and all traces are gone.
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:33 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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There's tantalizing, but inconclusive, evidence that the first visitors to the Americas were from farther south in Asia, not from Siberia. Kennewick Man in Washington State and many skeletons in South America look more Polynesian than Siberian, and are among the oldest skeletons found in the Americas. When the Spaniards first reached the West Coast in the 1500's, there were tribes on the Baja Peninsula (that have since died out) who were physically and linguistically distinct from other tribes, and might have been the last remnants of these people. If they were indeed from southern Asia, they might have intentionally island-hopped across the Pacific, or been accidentally blown across, rather than cross the Bering land bridge.
Here's an article on some of the evidence. All of the evidence I am aware of is skeletal, which is more difficult to interpret than genetic data. To date, all the genetic evidence indicates the colonists of the Americas came from northeast Asia.

While Australoid-type peoples made it by boat to Australia, the Philippines and to the islands of Melanesia, you would think that if they were capable of reaching the Americas they would have left some evidence on the Polynesian islands in between. If Australoids did reach the Americas - which I consider possible - I think it would more likely to be by the coastal route later followed by the northeast Asian colonists.
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:25 PM
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While Australoid-type peoples made it by boat to Australia, the Philippines and to the islands of Melanesia, you would think that if they were capable of reaching the Americas they would have left some evidence on the Polynesian islands in between. If Australoids did reach the Americas - which I consider possible - I think it would more likely to be by the coastal route later followed by the northeast Asian colonists.
There aren't a lot of Polynesian islands between Australia and the Americas, and New Zealand doesn't appear to be populated that early.
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:39 PM
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Native Americans share some teeth root thing with Asians. Both have four roots on a tooth that Europeans have two, as I recall. Do they share that with Polynesians?
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:58 PM
Grim Render Grim Render is offline
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I would like to mention the Beringia Isolation Hypothesis, just for the sheer coolness.
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:05 PM
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This study argues against migrations from other places than across the Bering Sea.
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:51 PM
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Thank you sir.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:45 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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There aren't a lot of Polynesian islands between Australia and the Americas, and New Zealand doesn't appear to be populated that early.
There are plenty of islands between Australia and the Americas, at least northern Australia.

In any case, I'm talking about Australoid-type peoples in general, not specifically the Aborigines. The Australoids include Aborigines, Papuans, Melanesians, and a bunch of small "Negrito" populations across South and Southeast Asia. These probably represent the first wave of modern humans to leave Africa.

Australoids colonized Australia by using boats, and penetrated even to the Bismark Archipelago by 36,000 years ago. But they didn't make it past the Solomons until much more recently. Colonization of the more remote islands of the Pacific didn't start until about 4,000 years ago, long after the Americas were already inhabited. It's difficult to imagine Australoids somehow making it all the way across the Pacific while leaving no trace anywhere else in the Pacific for 12,000 years.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:07 AM
chacoguy chacoguy is offline
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It's difficult to imagine Australoids somehow making it all the way across the Pacific while leaving no trace anywhere else in the Pacific for 12,000 years.
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I am inclined to believe that most of them were on the coast at the time and are now underwater and all traces are gone.
What about that part?
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:21 AM
Esox Lucius Esox Lucius is offline
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Here's an article on some of the evidence. All of the evidence I am aware of is skeletal, which is more difficult to interpret than genetic data. To date, all the genetic evidence indicates the colonists of the Americas came from northeast Asia.
Is that because no DNA has been recovered from Australoid-type skeletons in the Americas? I thought that relatively recent (200 years old or less) Pericu bones from the Baja Peninsula had been analyzed for DNA, but I can't find any cites now. Also, I don't know if the Ainu of Japan are Australoid-type, but they are supposedly the closest match to Kennewick Man's skull shape.

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While Australoid-type peoples made it by boat to Australia, the Philippines and to the islands of Melanesia, you would think that if they were capable of reaching the Americas they would have left some evidence on the Polynesian islands in between. If Australoids did reach the Americas - which I consider possible - I think it would more likely to be by the coastal route later followed by the northeast Asian colonists.
Paddling across the Pacific would be highly unlikely today, and maybe back then too. But just to play devil's advocate, the lower sea level 15,000 years ago could mean that evidence of habitation on islands back then could be under water now, just as it probably is along the west coast of the Americas. Lower sea levels could also mean that there were more islands exposed back then, making for shorter hops. (I tried searching for "map of pacific ocean in ice ages" but didn't come up with anything; maybe someone else's google-fu is stronger.) All speculative, admittedly, and following the northern arc of coastline is more plausible. But however they got here, the main point I wanted to make was that there was apparently a migration to the Americas by people other than the North Asian ancestors of today's Natives, and it's looking more and more like they were the first ones here.

Last edited by Esox Lucius; 11-19-2012 at 02:25 AM..
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:05 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Is that because no DNA has been recovered from Australoid-type skeletons in the Americas? I thought that relatively recent (200 years old or less) Pericu bones from the Baja Peninsula had been analyzed for DNA, but I can't find any cites now. Also, I don't know if the Ainu of Japan are Australoid-type, but they are supposedly the closest match to Kennewick Man's skull shape.
Which "Australoid type" skeletons are you referring to?



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Paddling across the Pacific would be highly unlikely today, and maybe back then too. But just to play devil's advocate, the lower sea level 15,000 years ago could mean that evidence of habitation on islands back then could be under water now, just as it probably is along the west coast of the Americas. Lower sea levels could also mean that there were more islands exposed back then, making for shorter hops. (I tried searching for "map of pacific ocean in ice ages" but didn't come up with anything; maybe someone else's google-fu is stronger.) All speculative, admittedly, and following the northern arc of coastline is more plausible. But however they got here, the main point I wanted to make was that there was apparently a migration to the Americas by people other than the North Asian ancestors of today's Natives, and it's looking more and more like they were the first ones here.
Hugging the coasts in glaciated areas (like Alaska) is quite different from hugging the coasts on islands. It makes little or no sense to do the latter.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:11 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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There are plenty of islands between Australia and the Americas, at least northern Australia.
Apparently "plenty" doesn't consider that huge, several-thousand-mile gap on the right side of your map between Hawaii and North America, or Rapa Nui and South America to be significant.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:48 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Esox Lucius View Post
Is that because no DNA has been recovered from Australoid-type skeletons in the Americas? I thought that relatively recent (200 years old or less) Pericu bones from the Baja Peninsula had been analyzed for DNA, but I can't find any cites now. Also, I don't know if the Ainu of Japan are Australoid-type, but they are supposedly the closest match to Kennewick Man's skull shape.
I was mainly referring to the fact that there is no apparent genetic trace of any Australoid ancestry among modern Native Americans. Genetic lineages can be lost, it's true, but at this point there's no evidence to support this idea. I haven't heard of any positive evidence from skeletal remains, either.

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What about that part?
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Originally Posted by Esox Lucius
Paddling across the Pacific would be highly unlikely today, and maybe back then too. But just to play devil's advocate, the lower sea level 15,000 years ago could mean that evidence of habitation on islands back then could be under water now, just as it probably is along the west coast of the Americas. Lower sea levels could also mean that there were more islands exposed back then, making for shorter hops. (I tried searching for "map of pacific ocean in ice ages" but didn't come up with anything; maybe someone else's google-fu is stronger.) All speculative, admittedly, and following the northern arc of coastline is more plausible.
It's less likely people would confine themselves to just the coast on small islands than on the mainland, just because there's less habitable area. A lot more land was exposed during the Ice Ages around Australia, New Guinea, and the western Pacific, but very little in the central and eastern Pacific. The hops to the Americas would not have been appreciably shorter.

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Originally Posted by Esox Lucius
But however they got here, the main point I wanted to make was that there was apparently a migration to the Americas by people other than the North Asian ancestors of today's Natives, and it's looking more and more like they were the first ones here.
It's an intriguing possibility, and I wouldn't rule it out. However, personally I don't think the evidence is really there yet.

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Apparently "plenty" doesn't consider that huge, several-thousand-mile gap on the right side of your map between Hawaii and North America, or Rapa Nui and South America to be significant.
I'm not sure we're on different sides of the argument. My point is that, with so many islands in the intervening area in the western and central Pacific, one would expect some traces of an earlier colonization event in the islands if Australoids were in the habit of making long sea voyages and had reached the Americas via an oceanic route. They evidently didn't colonize any of the islands of Polynesia, so the gap between Polynesia and the Americas would be even less likely to be crossed.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:06 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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I'm not sure we're on different sides of the argument. My point is that, with so many islands in the intervening area in the western and central Pacific, one would expect some traces of an earlier colonization event in the islands if Australoids were in the habit of making long sea voyages and had reached the Americas via an oceanic route. They evidently didn't colonize any of the islands of Polynesia, so the gap between Polynesia and the Americas would be even less likely to be crossed.
I guess we're merely considering the chances, not hard evidence, and I certainly agree with you. The farthest East from Australia that we know Polynesians reached for sure is Rapa Nui, and the general thought is there may have been two migrations to there.
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Estimated dates of initial settlement of Easter Island have ranged from 300 to 1200 CE, approximately coinciding with the arrival of the first settlers in Hawaii.
This is the latest settlement of those who came from a western direction, so it's most likely that if they went further east, it would be after that, and then we're bumping up to the European discovery of the Americas, when it's unlikely that it would be a secret.

In any case, what sparse evidence we have suggests that extreme Polynesian expansion did not happen 10,000 years ago, but within the last 2,000 years, and never made it past Hawaii or Rapa Nui. Australian expansion is sparser yet -- they seemed to have missed Rapa Nui altogether if even they went that far. To say they went 2000 miles farther into unknown, trackless ocean doesn't hold much water unless you can find some solid artifacts.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:15 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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There's room for any number of random people or peoples to end up in America in ancient times. I'm morally certain that dozens, maybe hundreds of lost sailors from all over the world managed to wash up on the Americas just like the Vikings did.

However, even if these people lived in the Americas for generations, their genetic contribution to the American population by 1491 was miniscule. Of course the pandemics might have wiped out all the lost colonies of Polynesians, Romans, Phoenicians, Chinese, Australians, Basques, Africans, Israelites and on and on. However, we simply don't find any actual archeological evidence for these colonies, neither skeletal remains or artifacts. The only pre-1491 colony that can be confirmed archeologically are the Vikings.
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