Current evidence allows multiple models for the peopling of the Americas


Ben A. Potter
James F. Baichtal
Alwynne B. Beaudoin
Lars Fehren-Schmitz
C. Vance Haynes
Vance T. Holliday
Charles E. Holmes
John W. Ives
Robert L. Kelly
Bastien Llamas
Ripan S. Malhi
D. Shane Miller
David Reich
Joshua D. Reuther
Stephan Schiffels
Todd A. Surovell


Some recent academic and popular literature implies that the problem of the colonization of the Americas has been largely resolved in favor of one specific model: a Pacific coastal migration, dependent on high marine productivity, from the Bering Strait to South America, thousands of years before Clovis, the earliest widespread cultural manifestation south of the glacial ice. Speculations on maritime adaptations and typological links (stemmed points) across thousands of kilometers have also been advanced. A review of the current genetic, archeological, and paleoecological evidence indicates that ancestral Native American population expansion occurred after 16,000 years ago, consistent with the archeological record, particularly with the earliest securely dated sites after ~15,000 years ago. These data are largely consistent with either an inland (ice-free corridor) or Pacific coastal routes (or both), but neither can be rejected at present. Systematic archeological and paleoecological investigations, informed by geomorphology, are required to test each hypothesis.

Full article

Fig. 1 - Northwest North America with archeological sites older than 10,000 calibrated years before the present (Supplementary Materials) and proposed colonization routes: IFC and NPC.

Publication Listing

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat5473