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The First Americans

February 23, 2015

Today I’d like to bring your attention to a recent National Geographic feature on the first people to settle the Americas. For an article of its length there’s a surprising amount I didn’t know. I thought I was up on the research, but apparently it’s been moving forward without me. My inner paleo-nerd is ashamed.

I didn’t know, for instance, that the girl’s skeleton from Mexico had had a facial reconstruction done. Or that pre-Clovis settlements are starting to become accepted. Or that the number of pre-Clovis sites were as numerous as they are, or that people have been able to (somewhat) reconstruct population movements based off them.

Told you I had an inner paleo-nerd.

I was struck by two things in particular though. First, that the very first settlers did indeed look different, though I’m not sure I buy the explanation given in the article. It makes sense, but I feel maybe waves of people could also account for at least some of it? And second, the idea that people paddled down the coast during the Ice Age until they found unfrozen land again. It makes sense, since boats were almost certainly used crossing the Bering Land Bridge, but I’d never really twigged it was possible. (Shame on me.) Gives me an idea for my current novel, that does. And I hope that someday we find some of those marine archaeological sites they mentioned. Think what we might find!

Be sure to check out the photo gallery attached to the article too.

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