1:43 PM PDT, September 24, 2021
A recent report suggests that humans existed in New Mexico long before the end of the Ice Age, contrary to prior belief.
Research done on the human footprints found in the White Sands National Park were included in a report released on Thursday.
Until now, many experts believed that the spread of people across the Americas occurred at the end of the Ice Age, primarily due to the oldest tools identified at the time, including scrapers and spear tips. These tools dated back around 13,000 years, and were known as Clovis tools, named after the New Mexico town where some of them were first discovered, according to The New York Times.
This theory included generations of humans occupying Alaska during the Ice Age until the melting of ice allowed for southbound movement.
Some archaeologists questioned this timeline, including Ben Potter, an archaeologist at the Arctic Studies Center at Liaocheng University in China.
“There are unresolved issues with every single one of them,” Dr. Potter said of the older sites where tools were found.
“None of them are unequivocal.”
This discovery at the White Sands National Park in New Mexico began in 2009, and paleontologists and geologists were involved in the collection and research. Footprints of what looked like humans adults, and animals from the Ice Age were found, and the researchers tested the carbon age of the ancient seeds found near the prints, according to The Times.
These tests confirmed that the oldest footprints at the site — left by an adult human and a mammoth — dated back around 22,800 years, showing that humans walked around the lake near where the footprint was discovered about 10,000 years before the Clovis people.
“I think this is probably the biggest discovery about the peopling of America in a hundred years,” Ciprian Ardelean, an archaeologist at Autonomous University of Zacatecas in Mexico in relation to the researcher’s findings said to the outlet.
“I don’t know what gods they prayed to, but this is a dream find.”