This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← New evidence suggests Stone Age hunters from Europe discovered America

New evidence suggests Stone Age hunters from Europe discovered America - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

So, a strong possibility that " Europeans " discovered " America " first! I have to wonder how this possible discovery will play out culturally.

I fear someone somewhere will try to make ideological hay out of a purely scientific concern.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 04:15:14 UTC | #922666

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 2 by Michael Gray

Piltdown Man?

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 04:41:02 UTC | #922671

yanquetino's Avatar Comment 3 by yanquetino

Meh. It only makes sense that a few caucasoides could have migrated to the Western Hemisphere during the previous Ice Ages, perhaps before but certainly while mongoloides were doing the same from the opposite direction. In that regard, this "new" evidence is hardly surprising.

What discourages me is that I have seen, time and time again, that Mormons inevitably seize upon these discoveries to try and claim that they "prove" the Book of Mormon, i.e., that a couple of Jewish families escaped the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem around 600 CE and sailed by boat to the Americas --hence Native Americans are their descendents, no matter what their DNA tells us.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 04:59:43 UTC | #922675

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 4 by Mrkimbo

Judging from the illustration, they had a real hatred for cocker spaniels.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 07:32:07 UTC | #922687

Layla's Avatar Comment 5 by Layla

Well, this is kind of ironic. It would be funny if it turned out the native Americans had wiped out the previous lot of native Americans and they were Europeans. Looks like they may have been absorbed instead though. It's all quite interesting.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 10:16:46 UTC | #922717

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

@ OP article- Scientific tests on ancient DNA extracted from 8000 year old skeletons from Florida have revealed a high level of a key probable European-originating genetic marker. There are also a tiny number of isolated Native American groups whose languages appear not to be related in any way to Asian-originating American Indian peoples.

This is not new! It was first proposed in 1998.

The Solutrean hypothesis is a controversial proposal that peoples from Europe may have been among the earliest settlers in the Americas, as evidenced by similarities in stone tool technology of the Solutrean culture from prehistoric Europe to that of the later Clovis tool-making culture found in the Americas.[1][2] It was first proposed in 1998. Its key proponents include Dennis Stanford, of the Smithsonian Institution, and Bruce Bradley, of the University of Exeter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solutrean_hypothesis

Genetic markers show the ("French") origins of a minority of native Americans, while the concept of crossing the Atlantic along the edge of the ice while living an Inuit type life-style is quite plausible. Much more so than navigating huge ocean distances in boats after the thaw!

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 10:35:28 UTC | #922723

DaveUK9xx's Avatar Comment 7 by DaveUK9xx

Comment 4 by Mrkimbo :

Judging from the illustration, they had a real hatred for cocker spaniels.

LOL

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 10:37:07 UTC | #922724

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 8 by nancynancy

This finding is not "PC" enough.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 11:12:12 UTC | #922738

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 9 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

This is not new! It was first proposed in 1998.

I recall watching an excellent documentary about 12 years ago, regarding how some native tribes were trying to legally prevent archaeological material being taken away and examined.....on the basis that the material 'must' be from their tribe. As I recall it, at the time. the courts ruled in their favour.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 11:45:49 UTC | #922747

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 10 by drumdaddy

All of these tools but zero human fossils?

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 12:56:14 UTC | #922769

hellosnackbar's Avatar Comment 11 by hellosnackbar

French flint in America! That's fascinating . Our ancient ancestors were indeed very resourceful if they walked across the Atlantic on the ice.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:11:13 UTC | #922775

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 12 by potteryshard

All of these tools but zero human fossils?

Stone tools will survive without the need of special circumstances. Fossilization requires extremely specific occurances to take place. I can't imagine that fossilzation happens to the average corpse at rates higher than ten-thousandths of a percent... Otherwise we would be neck deep in fossils?

Well, this is kind of ironic. It would be funny if it turned out the native Americans had wiped out the previous lot of native Americans and they were Europeans.

I've never subscribed to the whole "you took our land" pathos. The randomized and millenias-long process of human migration coupled with the inevitable human propensity for battle over resources and territory pretty much guarantees that the most recent occupants stole the land from a previous group who in turn stole it from an even earlier group, who in turn stole it from...

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:19:24 UTC | #922777

some asshole's Avatar Comment 13 by some asshole

A remarkable series of several dozen European-style stone tools, dating back between 19,000 and 26,000 years, have been discovered at six locations along the US east coast.

This is nonsense. The world didn't even exist back then. This is Olmatta Gawud testing us once again.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:26:26 UTC | #922779

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Comment 14 by Jonathan Dore

Comment 6, Alan4Discussion:

... the concept of crossing the Atlantic along the edge of the ice while living an Inuit type life-style is quite plausible.

This has always been my main problem with the hypothesis, since when you think about it carefully it's very hard to see that it is plausible. The distance to be covered (say a minimum of 1,500 miles) would have required several generations to accomplish assuming a normal pattern of hunter migration following food resources. They might have done it in just a few years if they were deliberately setting out to go to America, and thus spending most of their time travelling -- but that would have required them to know America was there for them to aim at before they set out. How could they? As far as they knew, they would simply have been getting further and further from the only land they knew (i.e. Europe).

But even imagining that there was some way for them to know that there was a continental landmass worth aiming for at the other end, it would mean the Solutreans would have to have something we otherwise have no other example of in human history: an entirely marine culture in which people would be born, live, and die without ever sighting dry land (think Waterworld). The Inuit do some of their hunting on land-fast ice, and some in boats along the continental margins; pelagic hunting, with long periods out of sight of land, is unknown to them. The Polynesians certainly sailed great distances across the deep ocean, but these voyages were a matter of months, at most, and were always directed at finding the next point of land. Projecting hunting and boat-building technologies back to the period in question, it's just about possible to imagine they would have had the technology to pull it off. What's much harder to imagine is any society that is psychologically willing to live for years at a time, possibly whole lifetimes, out of sight of land. Nothing in our ancestry would have prepared us for that -- and tellingly, nothing like it has emerged anywhere in the world since then that we know of, even in much more hospitable climates and latitudes than the North Atlantic in an Ice Age.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:42:44 UTC | #922784

Tony d's Avatar Comment 15 by Tony d

@Comment 13 by some asshole

Well observed yet another hammer blow to the beliefs of the young Earth creationists. I don't like to call people stupid.So i am going to try my best to think of them as brainwashed. No sorry to hard to think they are all brainwashed .They are a mix of the very stupid and the brainwashed.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:56:58 UTC | #922788

capetownian's Avatar Comment 16 by capetownian

Comment 3 by Yanquetino refers:

"MORmONS - the second 'm' is silent - I thought everyone knew that!" - this from a comment on the "Evolution is True" website. Very apt, I think....

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 14:01:27 UTC | #922789

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 17 by prettygoodformonkeys

Comment 14 by Jonathan Dore

As far as they knew, they would simply have been getting further and further from the only land they knew (i.e. Europe)

Good points, but if everything was covered with ice & the ice was increasing, wouldn't they be forced to live at the water's edge, and gradually move as far south as they could get? There wouldn't have been any land anywhere, unless they kept moving. This seems plausible to me, purely on the level of uninformed conjecture.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 15:00:51 UTC | #922809

78rpm's Avatar Comment 18 by 78rpm

[Comment 2 >

Piltdown Man? >

I was wondering about that too. Controlled scepticism, just so it isn't knee-jerk denial, is appropriate in science.

[Comment 8 >

This finding is not "PC" enough.

Yes. Someone will jump on that as well.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 15:20:09 UTC | #922816

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 19 by Alan4discussion

Comment 14 by Jonathan Dore

.Comment 6, Alan4Discussion:

... the concept of crossing the Atlantic along the edge of the ice while living an Inuit type life-style is quite plausible.

This has always been my main problem with the hypothesis, since when you think about it carefully it's very hard to see that it is plausible.

The ice-caps were miles thick and lasted thousands of years. The exact position of the edge would not matter to those living there. They could move to the seaward edge wherever it was. They would not need to go out into open sea.

The distance to be covered (say a minimum of 1,500 miles) would have required several generations to accomplish assuming a normal pattern of hunter migration following food resources.

Successful hunting communities would simply expand into new territory where prey had not been previously hunted. The Inuit travelled many miles across sea-ice using sledges and small locally constructed boats, before modern equipment was available to them. Reindeer herders in Lapland travel hundreds of miles with their herds. There were thousands of years when the Arctic Ice joined Europe and America, so taking several generations is not really an issue.

What's much harder to imagine is any society that is psychologically willing to live for years at a time, possibly whole lifetimes, out of sight of land.

Where there was land, it was a couple of miles below the ice. Over the sea, the huge ice sheets and shelves would be as stable as land and supply marine foods from holes, warm currents and edges. Even today, people drive vehicles over much thinner sea ice.

They might have done it in just a few years if they were deliberately setting out to go to America, and thus spending most of their time travelling

They had thousands of years. No plan would be needed. Prey animals would be more plentiful and easier to catch where they had not been previously hunted. This would encourage hunters to move to new hunting grounds where there were no other people competing with them.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 16:02:35 UTC | #922823

Obi wan kolobi's Avatar Comment 20 by Obi wan kolobi

In Simon Southerton's "Losing a Lost Tribe", he dismantles the Mormon idea of a middle eastern origin for Native Americans. He mentions that there are five major lineages A,B,C,D,X. The X lineage is a mostly european lineage, and Mormons generally hoped that this lineage would tie to their beliefs of an Israelite migration to the Americas. No one outside of Mormon circles took that position seriously. This X lineage makes much more sense in the light of French flint tools showing up along American shores.

Sorry Mormons, your church still isn't true.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 16:06:07 UTC | #922824

chris 116's Avatar Comment 21 by chris 116

Can they be certain that the Flint was French? If so, surely this makes it a certainty, rather than a possibility, that Europeans arrived in America during the ice age.

That said, does the style of the tools really prove that they arrived 19 – 26,000 years ago? Would it not be possible that the tribe/band/clan who made the trek were a bit behind the times in stone technology, or that they took several thousand years to reach America?

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 17:09:48 UTC | #922843

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 22 by huzonfurst

Once the route to North America was discovered, 1500 miles would not be much of a barrier. A determined band of hunters could probably do it in 100 days with enough provisions and luck - I wonder if they had "Stone Man" competitions and raced each other across?

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 18:08:33 UTC | #922852

SheerReason's Avatar Comment 23 by SheerReason

I'm not ready to buy this one. The Solutrean hypothesis has been debunked before. If this were true, then we should expect a skeleton dating before the Siberian migration to be found which has European DNA in the bones. I'm just more than a bit skeptical. All skeletons that I've read about which were tested showed genetic connections to people in Asia rather than Europe.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 18:36:07 UTC | #922855

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 24 by alaskansee

@ Allan 4 Discussion

As a sled dog owner I travel 1000 - 1500 km per year ( 4-5 months of winter only) we're to lazy in the summer. 60 km per day is my max so far but I understand this is not very long for a good team.

The Iditarod sled dog race is almost 1000 km so the time seems out.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 18:54:02 UTC | #922863

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 25 by xmaseveeve

Too dumb to comment, but fascinated.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 19:05:34 UTC | #922868

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 26 by xmaseveeve

Alaskansee, I'll never forget my sled ride in Churchill, Manitoba. One dog was called Cinders and I loved her, still have her photo. To me, your post is also the most enlightening yet.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 19:09:50 UTC | #922870

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 27 by prettygoodformonkeys

Comment 23 by SheerReason

All skeletons that I've read about which were tested showed genetic connections to people in Asia rather than Europe.

That's interesting; I think I'll hold off on my land claim until I learn more.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 19:34:55 UTC | #922875

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 28 by alaskansee

@ Comment 26 by xmaseveeve

Thanks xmaseveeve, I think that's the first time a post of mine has been described as enlightening, though I have enlightened many. Yippee!

I'd post a picture of my dogs but it's always a shot of their arses when you're a dog sledder.

Also very important to point out that the dogs love it (PETA are ignorant). When I get them ready to go it's almost deafening putting on their harnesses they're so excited! My large male likes to nibble me after I put his harness on, just a friendly nibble.

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 20:09:42 UTC | #922886

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 29 by xmaseveeve

I had a whole pack bounding all over me and rolling over - timber wolf, eskimo dog crosses - because I smiled at Cinders and she ran to me. The Innuit guy said, 'Lady. You show no fear.' He took my photo quickly, right after that, and I'm still cuddling Cinders. Poor guy was terrified, I think, but I loved that wee dog - all of them - big softies. And yes, they adored their work - PETA is nuts. (I didn't know you could post a photo.)

I think that the distances you travel suggest that this is not so far fetched. All the other speculations are still amazing though! Maybe someone will find these knives in North America after we're long gone - so far in the future that some guy will publish a theory that they were free gifts with happy meals (if dumbing-down, and religioning up continues).

I wonder what mysterious ways God will be presumed to be working in now? I can't pre-empt these great theological minds. No one knows the secret of the Black Magic box. (70s tv chocolate advert.) What will creationists say?

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 21:37:04 UTC | #922903

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 30 by alaskansee

@ xmaseveeve

I think you'll find the Ladies love Black Magic or is that Milk Tray?

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 21:46:22 UTC | #922909