Ancient DNA Shows First Americans Did Not Use Ice-Free Corridor

Posted: Aug 11 2016, 5:41am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Ancient DNA Shows First Americans Did Not Use Ice-Free Corridor
Map outlining the opening of the human migration routes in North America revealed by the results presented in this study. Credit: Courtesy of Mikkel Winther Pedersen, Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen
  • Study on Ancient DNA shows Early Americans to Have Followed a Different Route

A study on ancient DNA shows early Americans to have actually followed quite a different route of entry into the New World. The textbook version is thus completely wrong.

The current theory regarding how early Ice Age people reached North America has been declared defunct by a new study on the matter. The entry path has been said to be biologically impossible, based on a series of analyses of ancient DNA.

The earliest people to reach America had to cross a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. This is what common sense tells us. They also had to wait till the ice sheets that once covered Canada retreated.

The ice-free region later on allowed them to make their move. A novel study published in a journal shows that, on the contrary, this is not what happened.

Ancient DNA collected from this route was put to the test in a lab. The picture this new analysis paints is vastly different from the erstwhile account.

It is also the first such project of its kind to have been undertaken. People probably traveled this corridor of sorts 12,600 years ago. Before that it would have been impossible to traverse it.

That is because the provision of materials for survival along the way would have been hard to come by. These included wood for fuel as well as implements and animals that could be hunted for food in accordance with the hunting gathering lifestyle.

Thus the first Americans must have made their way south through another route than the supposed one. They probably migrated across the Pacific coast.

The origins of these people are a matter of controversy. Researchers are agreed upon one fact though and that is regarding the Clovis culture which first inhabited the region 13,000 years ago.

As for the ice corridor it would not have been worthy of being traversed way back then. While this corridor was open 13,000 years ago, it would be much later that it would get used.

Thus the first people entering the region must have employed an alternative pathway. The ice corridor was 1500 km in length and began its formation east of the Rocky Mountains.

The crux of the matter is when the corridor became biologically viable. The backbreaking and arduous journey through this corridor took place at a time of great risk and danger.

This journey would have been impossible 12,600 year ago. The DNA samples collected from this region show that only much later did vegetation and fauna inhabit the region. The Clovis people were probably the first ones to get there.

This new study got published in the journal Nature.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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