Coming To America
For decades, scientists thought the New World was populated by migrants from Asia who wandered down the center of the continent about 12,000 years ago. New discoveries are pushing that theory out to sea. Three views on how humans populated the Americas
• COASTAL Recent finds at Daisy Cave, Calif., and Monte Verde, Chile, point to bands of people moving down the Pacific coast of North and South America much earlier, perhaps 30,000 years ago
• OVERLAND Discoveries at Clovis, N.M., led to the theory that a single human culture moved into the Americas down the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains about 12,000 years ago
• ATLANTIC Artifacts found in South Carolina have led some archaeologists to speculate that early migrants might have arrived on the East Coast from Europe, although the evidence remains in dispute Select
archaeological sites*:
• Other artifacts found Ushki Lake RUSSIA 11,000 B.P. • Human remains found On Your Knees Cave ALASKA 9,818 B.P. • Human remains found Kennewick WASH. 9,400 B.P.
• Other artifacts found Daisy Cave CALIF. 10,500 B.P.
• Other artifacts found Cedros Island MEXICO 11,000 B.P.
• Other artifacts found Folsom N.M. 10,490 B.P.
• Other artifacts found Clovis N.M. 11,200 B.P. • Dates in dispute Meadowcroft PA. 14,250 B.P. • Dates in dispute Cactus Hill VA. 15,070 B.P. • Dates in dispute Topper S.C. 15,200 B.P. • Dates in dispute Taima-Taima VENEZUELA 13,000 B.P.
• Other artifacts found Pedra Furada BRAZIL 47,000 B.P.
• Other artifacts found Lapa do Boquete BRAZIL Up to 12,070 B.P.
• Other artifacts found Tibit COLOMBIA 11,740 B.P.
• Other artifacts found Quebrada Jaguay PERU 10,500 B.P.
• Other artifacts found Monte Verde CHILE 12,500 B.P.
• Human remains found Palli Aike CHILE 8,640 B.P. Tools in the search
ARCHAEOLOGY Skeletons like Kennewick Man are rare. More often scientists study and date other indications of human activity -- remains of butchered animals, stone tools, spear points or even bits of burned charcoal. Unfortunately, such artifacts may never be found along coastal migration routes -- they're now under water
GENETICS Scientists use markers in DNA samples from indigenous peoples in North and South America to figure out when populations diverged from each other. DNA comparisons suggest the first Americans may have diverged from groups in the Lake Baikal area of what is now Russia as early as 26,000 years ago
LINGUISTICS By studying native words and grammar, scientists can establish links and infer the amount of time required for different languages to evolve from a common origin. As of 1492, there were an estimated 1,000 languages in the Americas that may have developed from the original migrants
Migration milestones
• 30,000 B.P.* Beginning of last North American ice age. Mitochondrial-DNA studies indicate the earliest possible migration
• 25,000 Approximate opening of Bering land bridge between Asia and North America • 20,000 Earliest migration date, according to Y-chromosome studies • 15,000 Evidence of humans in South America Glacial melting floods Bering land bridge • 10,000 End of last ice age in North America Kennewick Man lives in Pacific Northwest • 5,000 Dawn of Central American cultures such as Olmec and Maya • Present
*Dates are in radiocarbon years "before the present," a scientific standard meaning "before 1950"
—With reporting by With reporting by Dan Cray/Los Angeles

(thank you for indulging me - after writing The Wisdom walkers I have endured a lot of criticism for not respecting the Bering Strait theory, and alhtough I think it was sad that Keenewick Man was fought over and ultimately the scientists won, what they discovered changed their own view of native people radically...and in favor of my story).