23,000-year-old footprints rewrite America’s human history

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Footprints found in White Sands National Park in New Mexico are said to have settled on the continent for 10,000 years.

A study released on Thursday, September 23 found footprints 23,000 years ago in the southwestern United States, long before the end of the last ice age, when human settlement in North America was already underway, believed to have allowed this migration.

These footprints were now left in the mud on the shores of a dry lake. This led to a white gypsum desert located in White Sand National Park, New Mexico. Over time, the sediments were filled and hardened in the inlets and preserved until erosion, rediscovering this evidence of the past, much to the delight of scientists.

“Many of the traces appear to be of adolescents and children; large large footprints are rarely seen», Write the authors of a study published in the American Journal of Science. Traces of animals, mammoths and prehistoric wolves have also been identified. Some, like the giant lazy ones, are contemporaries and close to human footprints on the shores of the lake.

Beyond emotion and myth, the discovery is crucial to the debate about the origin of the arrival of Homo sapiens in the United States, the last continent inhabited by our species. Because of the dating traces of white sand “Indicates the existence of humans on Earth about 23,000 years ago, with evidence of occupation for approximately two thousand years”, Emphasizes the study.

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For decades, the generally accepted thesis was that during an emigration from eastern Siberia, our ancestors crossed a land bridge – the current Bering Strait – to land in Alaska and spread further south. Archaeological evidence, including spearheads used to kill mummies, dates back 13,500 years to what is known as Clovis culture — the name given to a city in New Mexico — and is considered the first American culture.

This model of “ancient Clovis culture” has been in question for 20 years, with new discoveries pushing back the age of the first population. But usually this date does not go beyond 16,000 years after the completion of the “Last Glacier Max”. This glacial chapter is very important because it is generally accepted that ice caps were covered in the northern part of the continent or that no human migration from Asia via the Bering Strait was possible. Recent findings suggest a Pacific coast.

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About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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