With the exception of Antartica, the Americas were the last of the continents to be inhabited by early humans. Scientists believe that they crossed over the Bering Strait (which was a vast land) about 15,000 years ago. But a new study indicates that prehistoric humans lived in what is now California 130,000 years ago. The claim is supported by mastodon bones found near San Diego, which may not be related to any living groups of human beings today.

In 1992, construction workers found mastodon bones while clearing a sound barrier in San Diego county that looked unusual. For experts the discovery was intriguing but it didn’t support a conclusion. The thick bones were broken and found alongside five large round stones.

Thomas A. Demere, a paleontologist at the San Diego Natural History Museum, invited his colleagues and other experts to help determine how the bones were broken. The experts tried to reproduce the markings using similar rocks to break elephant bones and found that the bones fractured at the same angles and the fragments created a similar ground pattern.

If the mastodon bones were smashed by humans, how did humans come to the Americas and what species of humans were here first.  There is activity relating to humans dating back to 25,000 years. An archaeologist at Texas A&M University reported that a stone knife was found with cut marks in a Florida sinkhole dating back about 14,500 years. These findings support the hypothesis of the Beringian Standstill:

  • Humans moved from Siberia onto the Bering Land Bridge linking Asia and North America about 25,000 years ago
  • The migration was stopped by glaciers. When the glaciers receded after several thousand years, modern humans were able to move south
  • The oldest fossils of modern humans are found in Africa dating back 200,000 years but the ancestors  of Europeans, Asians, and Australians came out of Africa between 50,000 to 80,000 years.
  • Other kinds of humans , such as the ancestors of Neanderthals, did not come from Africa and occupied the areas between Spain and Southern Siberia.
  • Another human lineage—the Denisovans—split from the Neanderthals 400,000 years ago and their remains have been found in Siberia.

What all this means is that we may have identified the presence of an unidentified species of homo Sapiens.

Small, Meredith F.  Meredith F. Small to  Live Science newsgroup, “Why Did Humans Migrate to the Americas?,” January 23, 2009. Accessed August 5, 2017. https://www.livescience.com/7640-humans-migrate-americas.html.

Zimmer, Carl. “Humans Lived in North America 130,000 Years Ago, Study Claims.” New York Times (New York, NY), April 26, 2017. Accessed August 5, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/science/prehistoric-humans-north-america-california-nature-study.html.

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