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Ancient Footprints May Rewrite American History

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  • Ancient Footprints May Rewrite American History

    Ancient Footprints May Rewrite American History
    By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

    July 6, 2005 — Humans colonized the Americas 30,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a set of human footprints unearthed beside an ancient Mexican lake.

    Dated to about 40,000 years ago, the impressions challenge the traditionally held view that settlers first came to North America after the last Ice Age ended about 13,500 years ago.

    According to this theory, people would have reached North America by crossing the Bering Straits, a land bridge which became available between Russia and Alaska.

    The footprints were discovered by an international team led by Silvia Gonzalez, a geoarchaeologist at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, in the summer 2003.

    Gonzalez found 269 footprints, both animal and human, at the bottom of an abandoned quarry close to the Cerro Toluquilla volcano in the Valsequillo Basin, near the city of Puebla, 130 kilometers (81 miles) southeast of Mexico City.

    ''The footprints were preserved as trace fossils in volcanic ash along what was the shoreline of an ancient volcanic lake. Climate variations and the eruption of the Cerro Toluquilla volcano caused lake levels to rise and fall, exposing the Xalnene volcanic ash layer," Silvia Gonzalez said at the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition in London, where plastic replicas of the footprints are exhibited.

    The tracks were made in soft, sandy ash from the Cerro Toluquilla volcano from people who walked across the new shoreline. Soon covered in more ash and lake sediments, the trails were then submerged and preserved when the water levels rose again.

    Today, the volcanic Xalnene ash, in which the footprints were embedded, is hard as concrete and used locally as a building material.

    It took Gonzalez's team nearly two years to date the material. Various methods, from radiocarbon dating to argon-argon, uranium series and electron spin resonance techniques had been used.

    The key date came from shells in sediments just above the layer of ash, which the team carbon-dated to 38,000 years ago.

    Sand grains baked into the ash, dated using optically stimulated luminescence, confirmed the results.

    According to the researchers, about 60 percent of the prints are human, ranging in size from those of children to adults who would have fitted size eight shoes. The team estimated that adults ranged in height from 3 feet 9 inches to 6 feet.

    The finding, which is due to be published in the journal Quaternary Science Review, is stirring up a controversy among experts. Paul Renne, a geochronologist at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that the impressions are unlikely to be human footprints.

    "I've seen them up close but what I saw appeared to be eroded gouge marks made by humans, cows or machines. This place is very near an active quarry and the volcanic ash is used as a building stone by the locals. So the surface is highly disturbed... You can find just about anything you want. I could claim to have seen some that resembled dinosaurs! To make a convincing case, they will have to excavate fresh surfaces and find convincing footprints there," Renne told Discovery News.

    He added that the dating is also controversial. "The 'footprint' layer seems to be underneath another ash that has been dated at more than 200,000 years old. So if they really are footprints, which I doubt, they might be so old as to be quite revolutionary," Renne said.

    Gonzalez had no illusions that the finding would be controversial.

    "We are sure that they are human footprints because we have done detailed mapping of the prints together with laser scanning. This technique gives a 3D image of a human footprint. So we don't have any doubts," Gonzalez told Discovery News.

    If it survives the controversy, the discovery would point to Central Mexico as one of the most important areas for the study of early human occupation and provide fresh evidence that humans settled in the Americas as early as 40,000 years ago.

    ''We think there were several migration waves into the Americas at different times by different human groups... Our findings support the theory that these first colonists may perhaps have arrived by water rather than on foot using the Pacific coast migration route,'' Gonzalez said.

    "Be good, be kind, help each other."
    "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

    --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

  • #2
    That's right, we used tipis as a flotation device to get across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

    Comment


    • #3
      Historian,

      America will not accept new ideas to replace old theories.

      Archeological evidence points to the Nordic tribes as the first Europeans to set foot on North America. Why don't we have the Eric the Red-Day, to celebrate, instead of Columbus Day?

      There are many archeological sites in the Americas that predate the last Bering Strait Theory. If this was acknowledged and would rewrite history... It would put a lot of scientists and educators out of a job and that would be "Un-American."

      Also it would take too much money to reprint America's history books.


      Bottom line. . .

      This article, and others like it, will 'unfortunately' be swept under the carpet and go unrecognized by mainstream America.
      Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

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