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A new route for migration into the Americas

28 February 2010

The Vancouver Sun, February 26th (http://www.vancouversun.com id2615220 … two US scientists have published a new theory about when and how humans may have entered the Americas. They argue, considering a long period of time was required to penetrate as far as South America, they arrived somewhat earlier than current consensus theory has allowed, and they came via the Arctic Ocean coastal region. The theory is that they moved across Canada’s High Arctic zone, hopping from island to island via the North West Passage – much further to the north and some 10,000 years, minimum, earlier than currently believed possible. The study is published in that special issue of Current Biology mentioned in a post on February 25th. It features a number of different ideas regarding human migration after the Out of Africa exodus around 70,000 years ago. The idea of humans in the High Arctic some 25,000 years ago, at the height of the last glacial maximum, is designed to plug gaps. Human occupation of the Americas is being pushed back in time and new theories are required to explain how they reached the American continents so early. For example, they were in Chile by 14,500 years ago, near the southern extreme, and that is before people are thought to have crossed from Siberia to Alaska at the end of the Ice Age around 15,000 years ago. In the Yukon, the Bluefish Cave possesses evidence of human activity going back some 20,000 years ago – long before the end of the Ice Age. What is interesting about this idea, particularly as Siberia was not covered in an ice sheet (nor Alaska and the Yukon), is that migration could have begun from river outlets along the shore of the Arctic Ocean rather than from NE Asia as it abuts on the Bering Strait. Using skin boats groups of hunters and migrants could have moved easily into northern Alaska and possibly as far east as Canada’s Arctic islands. Movement to the interior of the continent via the MacKenzie River drainage system may even have been plausible. That may require some reassessment of the size of the Canadian ice sheet. At the moment a route of settlement via the kelp forest to the south of the Bering Strait is the most favoured option – but potential sites now lie underwater so cannot be verified. However, it is a fact that most Clovis sites lie in eastern North America and one of the reasons for suggesting this route was to get people around North America and south along the Atlantic coast. This seems taking the idea a bit too far – but you never know. DNA studies have tended to be at odds with conventional migration models and the authors point at Russian discoveries, in 2004 for example, which reported on the remains of a 30,000 year old settlement near the Arctic Ocean outlet of the Yana river. This may prove to be an important piece of evidence as it also indicates that perhaps Siberia was not the hostile environment as imagined by consensus science, unlike today, and human exploration of the Arctic Ocean coasts is a feasible idea. Comments by other scientists appears to be credulous as the Ice Age environment in northern Siberia is regarded as extremely hostile – in spite of the Russian evidence to the contrary. However, in Peter Warlow’s talk at the 2007 SIS Cambridge Conference, he suggested the North Pole was located somewhat differently – and evidence of the ice sheet in NE America and NW Europe was evidence of this – using a model of a globe to illustrate the point. Many other people have of course pointed this out but it is strictly forbidden in a uniformitarian scenario – and science in various disciplines is dominated by that consensus view. However, it is quite clear that if the last Ice Age was really a relocation of the North Pole and then a migration route via the Arctic Ocean coastline is a very real possibility – and perhaps the best of current theories on how people actually arrived in the Americas. 

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