View Full Version : How Did People Migrate to the Americas? Bison DNA Helps Chart the Way

08-11-2016, 05:07 PM
"Two teams of scientists have succeeded in dating the opening of the gateway to America, only to disagree over whether the Clovis people — one of the first groups from Siberia to reach the Americas — ever used the gateway to gain access to the New World....Ten thousand years later, the glaciers started to retreat and an ice-free corridor, roughly 900 miles long, opened between Alaska and the Americas. In the middle of the corridor lay a body of water, 6,000 square miles in area, fed by the melting glaciers and known as Glacial Lake Peace. Not until the lake had drained away, and plants and animals had recolonized the corridor, would early peoples have been able to support themselves as they traversed the corridor between the glaciers.

Using new methods for analyzing ancient DNA, the two teams of scientists have each developed ingenious ways to calculate the date at which the corridor first became fit for human travel. A group led by Peter D. Heintzman and Beth Shapiro of the University of California, Santa Cruz, regards bison as the ideal proxy for assessing human travel through the corridor, given that bison were a major prey of early hunters....The corridor was “fully open” for bison traffic about 13,000 years ago, Dr. Shapiro and colleagues reported on June 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and human populations could have traversed it at the same early date. “Our chronology supports a habitable and traversable corridor by at least 13,000” years ago, “just before the first appearance of Clovis technology in interior North America,” they write.