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Discovery of 16,000-year-old Footprint That Could Change the History of the Americas

Discovery of 16,000-year-old Footprint That Could Change the History of the Americas

There are some discoveries that can change the way that we think about history. Archaeologists in Chile believe that they have made one such discovery. They have uncovered a human footprint that is approximately 15,500-16,000 years old. It is the earliest evidence yet found of humans in the Americas. The imprint has the potential to change how we believe the continent was settled and who were its first inhabitants.

The imprint was found at the late Pleistocene period archaeological site of Pilauco, which according to phys.org “where scientists have been digging since 2007.” The Pilauco site had also yielded evidence of extinct elephants and horses and is located in the Chilean city of Osorno some 500 miles (800 kilometers) south of Santiago, the capital of Chile.

The Pleistocene footprint is the oldest surviving human footprint in the Americas. ( Universidad Austral de Chile )

A Pleistocene Footprint

The footprint was found in 2010, near a modern house, by “a student at the Universidad Austral of Chile” according to Reuters. While the impression may appear to be clearly a human footprint, the scientists were cautious, as it could have been an animal’s tracks which had become misshapen and elongated over-time. It is believed that the imprint was buried under three feet of residue, which preserved it for posterity.

The Irish state broadcaster RTE reports that ‘”it took years for paleontologist Karen Moreno and geologist Mario Pino to reliably confirm that the print was human.” It was only established by carrying out footprint tests with people and this proved that the imprint was human. These also established that it was made by a “barefooted adult human who was of 'light body weight’” according to the Daily Mail .

Based on foot printing tests they conducted, scientists think the print comes from a straight down step. The diagram shows the different type of prints that could be made with different angles and pressure. ( Universidad Austral de Chile )

It is believed that the footprint is of a man who weighed 155 pounds (70 kilograms) and according to phys.org, was “of the species Hominipes modernus, a relative of Homo sapiens .” This was established by ichnologicaly, that is by the scientific examination of the traces found in the sediment. Ichnologists comparing the mark with other traces were able to establish that it was H. modernus.

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To establish if the Pleistocene footprint was human and how it was made, scientists performed foot printing tests on soil at different soil moisture levels and with different foot angles and pressures. ( Universidad Austral de Chile )

The Earliest Evidence of Humans

Scientists were able to date the find by using radiocarbon dating techniques that analyzed organic plant material near where the print was located and established that it was approximately 15,600 years old. This made it according to RTE, the “oldest footprint found in the Americas.” While other prints have been unearthed, none are as old as the one found in the city of Osorno. It seems that the site was occupied by humans for some time as footprints dated a thousand years later have also been uncovered.

The Daily Mail reports that “this was the first evidence of humans in the Americas older than 12,000 years.” Previously it had been believed that the first inhabitants of the continent arrived from Siberia via the Bearing Straits some 10,000 years ago. This discovery is challenging the idea that Clovis Man, a paleo-Indian culture was the first to settle the continent.

Archeologist working on site of the location were Pleistocene footprint was discovered. ( NERYX / Adobe)

Who First Settled the Americas?

According to Plos One , the find provides evidence of “the colonization of northern Patagonia” in the late Pleistocene period . The footprint is supporting evidence found at the Monte Verde , Chile, that this region in the extreme south of the Americas was colonized much earlier than thought. This, in turn, is supporting the so-called coastal migration model. This holds that the first settlers to inhabit the Americas migrated by following coastlines and may suggest that Pacific Islanders were the first to settle on the continent.

The impression and its surrounding sediment has been removed from the Osorno site and is now stored in a specially regulated environment. It has cracked somewhat as the moisture in the soil has dried but the impression is still distinct. The print could be put on display at some later date, but this depends on the state of the traces.


Idaho Site Shows Humans Were in North America 16,000 Years Ago

Artifacts recently unearthed at a site in western Idaho called Cooper’s Ferry indicate that humans were living there 16,000 years ago, pushing back the timeline of human habitation in North America.

The find is more evidence to overturn the “Clovis First” hypothesis, reports Megan Gannon at National Geographic. Archaeologists previously believed that the oldest culture to settle the interior of North America came through a gap in the ice sheets in central Canada that appeared roughly 14,000 years ago. These people have left behind distinctive Clovis points, found in various places in North America throughout the 20th century, the oldest dating back 13,500 years.

But in recent years, archaeologists have found numerous sites and artifacts older than that migration timeline, suggesting that early humans didn’t travel through the ice but followed the coast, likely using boats. A site called Monte Verde at the southern tip of Chile is at least 15,000 years old, a sinkhole in Florida recently yielded a knife and butchered mammoth bone more than 14,500 years old and the Gault site in Texas has yielded thousands of artifacts that could be 16,000 to 20,000 years old.

The finds at the Cooper’s Ferry site are the final nail in the coffin of the Clovis theory argues Todd Braje of San Diego State University, who reviewed the new paper in the journal Science “[T]he Clovis-first model is no longer viable,” he tells Gannon bluntly.

The Cooper’s Ferry site—located at the confluence of Rock Creek and the lower Salmon River—has long been familiar to the Nez Perce Tribe, who occupied the site for generations as the ancient village of Nipéhe. In 1997, Loren Davis, Oregon State University anthropologist and lead author of the new study, excavated the site, finding some non-Clovis points that were about 13,300 years old. That find was controversial at the time since it was close to or even older than the Clovis points.

Davis still had some lingering questions about the site, so a little over a decade ago he returned to Cooper's Ferry and set up a field school there. “I was hoping we could evaluate if the site was really 13,300 years old,” he tells Ewen Callaway at Nature. As the summer excavations progressed, the team sent samples of charcoal from hearths and animal bones to researchers at Oxford University for dating. The oldest sample turned out to be 16,500 to 16,300 years old. “It just absolutely blew our minds how early this stuff was,” Davis says.

The simplest explanation is that the earliest migrants to North America traveled up river to reach Idaho. “The Cooper's Ferry site is located along the Salmon River, which is a tributary of the larger Columbia River basin. Early peoples moving south along the Pacific coast would have encountered the Columbia River as the first place below the glaciers where they could easily walk and paddle in to North America,” Davis says in the press release. “Essentially, the Columbia River corridor was the first off-ramp of a Pacific coast migration route. The timing and position of the Cooper's Ferry site is consistent with and most easily explained as the result of an early Pacific coastal migration.”

Geologist Alia Lesnek, who is studying coastal migration, tells Katherine J. Wu at Nova that the new research “drives home the idea that while the Clovis were a really important cultural tradition in North America, they probably weren’t the first humans living [there].”

Not all experts are convinced. Archaeologist Ben Potter at the University of Alaska Fairbanks tells Callaway it’s not clear if the oldest radiocarbon dates at the site are associated with human habitation. “Cooper’s Ferry is intriguing, but not paradigm-shifting,” he says.

One of the big questions remaining is just who the earliest North Americans were. Davis has speculated that the oldest artifacts found at Cooper’s Ferry are similar in form to artifacts found in northwestern Asia, in particular Japan. He’s currently comparing his dig’s finds with Japanese artifacts and also has lots of other material queued up for carbon dating from a second dig site in the area. “We have 10 years’ worth of excavated artifacts and samples to analyze,” he says. “We anticipate we’ll make other exciting discoveries as we continue to study the artifacts and samples from our excavations.”

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.


Discovered 16,000-Year-Old Stone Artifacts in Idaho

The migration and population of North America may not be as we have long been taught. That’s according to new scientific discoveries being uncovered in an archeological dig at Cooper’s Ferry in Idaho.

Finding some simple tools could change everything many people believe about human history in North America. For many years, Discover Magazine explains, scientists believed that the first people came to North America around 13,000 years ago.

Since then, older artifacts have increased the time to around 15,000 or perhaps longer. According to a story in National Geographic, scientists in Cooper’s Ferry are finding even more artifacts leading to new speculations.

The tools, consisting of stemmed points like knives, blades, and cutting tools, found in the northwest corner of Idaho are believed to be 1,000 years or more older than those found in 2007 in Sonora, Mexico.

That has scientists reconfiguring their earlier hypothesis. Previous finds of Clovis stone tools were the foundation for scientists believing people walked to North America from Asia by crossing land that adjoined Siberia and Alaska.

The Cooper’s Ferry site located in Idaho lower Salmon River canyon. White arrow points to the site. Image credit: Davis et al

The belief was the land became exposed as the globe warmed from the last Ice Age, creating a bridge for people to cross over and enter from the north. They then migrated downward, according to the theory.

Researchers at the Cooper’s Ferry archaeological site in western Idaho found evidence they say is linked to human activity dating back as far as 16,560 years ago. https://t.co/xnw5MUhoR5

— steve kamp (@KampSteve) August 30, 2019

The Clovis tools are approximately 13,000 years old however, the pointed spears found in Cooper’s Ferry have been pinpointed to between 15,000 and 16,000 years old. The Cooper’s Ferry artifacts are now the oldest evidence undergoing radiocarbon dating showing that humans were in North America.

The idea that people migrated to North American some two millenia prior to earlier speculation changes the basis of the theory because the ice hadn’t melted to expose northern land at that time. That means people had to migrate through another route.

Clovis points from the Rummells-Maske Cache Site, Iowa. Billwhittaker CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientists are now giving more credence to another theory that once got little attention.

This theory is that those coming to North America came by what is called the “kelp highway”. Described on OPB, under this theory, people from Asia went from island to island along the seaway corridor, living on shores and sheltered bays where they could find plenty of food. The people then migrated to the west coast and moved inward.

The connection between Asia and Idaho are the pointed tools. Such tools are abundant along Asia’s coastline, but none were found in North America until the trove was discovered at Cooper’s Ferry.

There are many similar sites discovered in both North and South America. According to National Geographic, the problem, in the opinion of archeologist and University of Washington emeritus professor Donald Grayson, is the majority of those sites weren’t dated accurately.

Sites include the Gault and Friedkin sites in Texas, the Monte Verde site in Chile, and the Paisley Caves site in Oregon. All are believed to be between 14,000 and 15,500 years old.

Even though Grayson is conservative in attributing much to any of these sites, the archeologist said he would put into consideration on Idaho Cooper’s Ferry site because it has proper dating.

Map of the Americas showing pre-Clovis sites/ Pratyeka CC BY-SA 4.0

Archeologists believe the West Coast was settled by these migrating people, according to published CNN reports. The problem with identifying possible settlements that would prove this idea true is that sea levels have shifted since then and covered any communities along the West Coast.

Cooper’s Ferry isn’t near an ocean, but it is at the intersection of two large rivers, the Snake and Salmon Rivers, which flow to the Columbia River. People following food south from the West Coast would follow the Columbia to Cooper’s Ferry.

The area was filled with fish and other wildlife, so it would make sense to settle there.

There could be more settlement sites at the higher levels of the river’s tributaries, but there are no plans yet to excavate those areas.

Cooper’s Ferry has been of interest since the 1960s with a test excavation beginning in 1997. Serious digging at the site began in 2009 and continued through 2018.


Archaeologists Discover 29 Human Footprints From the Last Ice Age

Archaeologists working off Canada’s Pacific Coast have found 29 human footprints dating back to the end of the last Ice Age. The buried impressions were found along a beach—a discovery that’s bolstering the case for a coastal migratory route into North America.

When archaeologists are on the hunt for evidence of ancient human activity, they tend to find hardy things like bones, stone tools, and cave art. Finding the preserved remains of human footprints, on the other hand, is exceptionally rare. New research published today in PLOS One describes the discovery of 29 human footprints found buried on the shoreline of Calvert Island in British Columbia. Dated to around 13,000 years old, the impressions offer potential proof that America’s first migrants traveled along the Pacific West Coast when the continent became accessible at the end of the last Ice Age. But because ancient humans had already taken root in North America by this point in history, more evidence will be required to bear this out.

During the last Ice Age, a massive chunk of ice called the Cordilleran Ice Sheet created a natural and impenetrable barrier between Eurasia and North America. When this obstruction finally melted some 16,000 to 15,000 years ago, it opened the gates to North America, allowing humans to venture from Siberia and Beringia into the continent. Owing to a dearth of archaeological evidence, however, archaeologists aren’t entirely sure about the routes taken by these venturous humans.

We Were Wrong About How Ancient Humans Colonized North America

It’s a veritable certainty that North America’s first people arrived via the Bering Land Bridge,…

A popular and longstanding theory among many scientists is that the first Americans followed big game herds along a narrow, ice-free corridor that opened up in North America as the glaciers retreated. In recent years, however, an alternate theory has emerged, one known as the Coastal Migration Theory, or the Kelp Highway Hypothesis. According to this view, the first Americans migrated along the Pacific West Coast, traveling along the shorelines of what is now Alaska and British Columbia. It’s even possible that North America’s first settlers used boats, skimming the shoreline as they steadily moved south and eventually into the continent’s interior.

This theory makes a lot of sense the ocean is a reliable source of food, and much of North America was still covered in massive glaciers at the time according to some estimates, the ice-free corridor became habitable and human-friendly around 12,600 years ago , which is about 2,000 to 3,000 years after the coastline opened up.

The Coastal Migration Theory sounds great, but direct archaeological evidence to support it is scant. That’s why archaeologist Duncan McLaren, and his colleagues from the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria, decided to dig around the intertidal zone of a beach on British Columbia’s Calvert Island in search of clues. At the dawn of the Holocene Era, sea level in this area was about six to nine feet (two to three meters) shallower than what it is today. The researchers were hoping to find physical artifacts and relics dating to the period between 14,000 to 10,000 years ago—but instead, they unexpectedly found 29 human footprints in an area measuring 12 feet by 6 feet (4 x 2 meters).

This is pretty wild, because ancient footprints have only been discovered in three distinct places in the Americas, namely Argentina (dated at 14,000 years old), Chile (14,600 years old), and Mexico (two pathways, one dated at 10,700 years old, the other at 7,200 years old).

The prints were found pressed into a layer of paleosol (former soil preserved underneath sediments) that was radiocarbon dated to between 13,317 and 12,633 years ago. Wood samples taken from the same stratigraphic layer were used for the dating. Detailed measurements and photographic analysis suggested the prints were made by three individuals, two adults and a child. The presence of toe prints indicates these people were barefoot when the impressions were made.

“The footprints were impressed into a soil just above the paleo-shoreline, possibly by a group of people disembarking from watercraft and moving towards a drier central activity area to the north or northwest,” write the researchers in the study, adding that the discovery adds to the “growing body of evidence that humans inhabited the Pacific coast of Canada during late Pleistocene times.”

Ben Potter, an archaeologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who wasn’t involved in the new study, likes the paper, saying it helps us understand the antiquity of northern coastal occupations, but it doesn’t radically change our understanding of the initial colonization of the Americas, nor does it add to evidence supporting a coastal migration that would have taken place thousands of years earlier.

“It would push evidence of Northwest Coast human occupation back about 400 years, but it still postdates the widespread occurrence of Clovis populations throughout North America around 13,500 to 12,900 years ago, and the earliest interior Beringian materials at 14,300 years ago,” he told Gizmodo. By Clovis populations, Potter is referring to a prehistoric culture known for their projectile points.

Anthropologist Gary Haynes, who works out of the University of Nevada, says the authors did “everything they could to record the site,” agreeing that the impressions “look just like human footprints and nothing else.”

“That said, the footprints are impressed into a an old sediment surface from which radiocarbon dates were taken at the base of the footprint impressions—which could mean the tracks are younger than the underlying surface by some unknown factor,” Haynes told Gizmodo. “Also, inconsistent dates in an overlying sediment layer suggest disturbance, perhaps from barefoot people walking in the sand.”

Haynes thought it was interesting that the youngest possible date of the footprints was placed at 12,633 years ago, which is within the range of Clovis archaeological sites, and in fact younger than some Clovis sites. “This evidence does suggest that humans were present on the western North American coast around the time of Clovis elsewhere in the continent,” he said.

As these scientists point out, the new evidence isn’t earth-shattering, but it does fit in rather nicely with what we already know, or at least suspect, about how and when North America was colonized. It’s further proof that ancient humans occupied the northern west coast at this early stage (a few hundred years earlier than previous estimates, as Potter pointed out), albeit a few thousand years after the first wave of migrants flowed into to the continent. The next challenge for archaeologists will be to find more, and older, archaeological evidence along the west coast to bolster the Coastal Migration Theory even further.


Aztec Religion

The Aztec faith shared many aspects with other Mesoamerican religions, like that of the Maya, notably including the rite of human sacrifice. In the great cities of the Aztec empire, magnificent temples, palaces, plazas and statues embodied the civilization’s unfailing devotion to the many Aztec gods, including Huitzilopochtli (god of war and of the sun) and Quetzalcoatl (�thered Serpent”), a Toltec god who served many important roles in the Aztec faith over the years. The Great Temple, or Templo Mayor, in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc, the rain god.

The Aztec calendar, common in much of Mesoamerica, was based on a solar cycle of 365 days and a ritual cycle of 260 days the calendar played a central role in the religion and rituals of Aztec society.


“Older and older and older”

At the bottom of a canyon near a bend in the lower Salmon River, Cooper's Ferry is an idyllic spot with hot summers and cold winters. The Niimíipuu (Nez Perce) indigenous people referred to this site as an ancient village called Nipéhe.

Archaeologist Loren Davis, a professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis and lead author of the Science report, first excavated at Cooper's Ferry in the 1997 as part of his PhD dissertation. He found a cache of stone points, known as western stemmed points, that could have been fixed to the handle of a spear or another weapon or tool. Radiocarbon dates of bone and charcoal that were buried in the same small pit suggested these tools were up to 13,300 years old.

Davis returned about ten years later to lead a more extensive exploration of Cooper's Ferry because he still had some lingering questions. Namely, Davis wanted to know if the tools he found in the 1990s were older than tools in the Clovis tradition.

Over the last decade of excavation, Davis and his team found evidence of heat-cracked rocks from ancient campfires, workspaces for making and repairing tools, butchering sites, and fragments of animal bone. Last year Davis’ team sent a sample of charcoal from a hearth for radiocarbon testing and was surprised that it was in the 14,000-year-old age range. To confirm those results, more samples of material from Cooper’s Ferry were tested.

"Our results just kept on coming in older and older and older," Davis says. The deepest layer of artifact-filled sediment at the site had an age range of about 15,000 to 16,000 years old. "I just never had thought that the site was going to be this old.”


The History of Mass Incarceration

From Alexis de Tocqueville to Ronald Reagan, the forces that have shaped the current state of our prison system.

You’ve heard the phrase “mass incarceration.” But what, really, does it mean?

Simply put, it is shorthand for the fact that the U.S. incarcerates more people than any nation in the world, including China. And the U.S. is also the leader in the prison population rate. America’s approach to punishment often lacks a public safety rationale, disproportionately affects minorities, and inflicts overly harsh sentences.

We can build a better and fairer system. But before exploring how to fix the problem, it is worthwhile to conduct a brief review of the history of incarceration.

From Noble Intentions to Knee-jerk Result

The Founders, rebelling against a British legal system that vested all power in the Crown, wanted a justice system that guarded against government abuse. Four of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution protect the rights of the accused or convicted. This was a statement of priorities — and the world noticed.

Alexis de Tocqueville, the renowned 19th century French sociologist, came to the U.S. in 1831 to study the young nation’s prisons and penitentiaries. He found that certain states were attempting to administer humane and proportional punishment in a way France, and the rest of Europe, were not. His observations appeared in his classic work, Democracy in America.

Of course, de Tocqueville also saw much to criticize in the young United States, including its commitment to slavery. That legacy continues to haunt the country today, even as most of the world has adopted punishment systems more in line with what de Tocqueville hoped to find. Today, the U.S. incarceration rate is nine times higher than Germany, eight times higher than Italy, five times higher than the U.K., and 15 times higher than Japan.

Why? Simply put, other countries do not use prison as a one-size-fits-all solution to crime. In 2016, the Brennan Center examined convictions and sentences for the 1.46 million people behind bars nationally and found that fully 39 percent, or 576,000, were in prison without any public safety reason and could have been punished in a less costly and damaging way (such as community service).

But even if they were all released, the U.S. would still incarcerate at a far higher rate than comparable countries.

Mass Incarceration Takes Hold

It wasn’t always this way. The prison population began to grow in the 1970s, when politicians from both parties used fear and thinly veiled racial rhetoric to push increasingly punitive policies. Nixon started this trend, declaring a “war on drugs” and justifying it with speeches about being “tough on crime.” But the prison population truly exploded during President Ronald Reagan’s administration. When Reagan took office in 1980, the total prison population was 329,000, and when he left office eight years later, the prison population had essentially doubled, to 627,000. This staggering rise in incarceration hit communities of color hardest: They were disproportionately incarcerated then and remain so today.

Incarceration grew both at the federal and state level, but most of the growth was in the states, which house the vast majority of the nation’s prisoners. The number of prisoners grew in every state — blue, red, urban, and rural. In Texas, for example, the state incarceration rate quadrupled: In 1978, the state incarcerated 182 people for every 100,000 residents. By 2003, that figure was 710.

These changes were spurred in part by laws like the 1994 Crime Bill, which gave states money to perpetuate policies that bred bloated prisons. In fact, while it received little attention, the rise of mass incarceration was a phenomenon that has affected the entire country for four decades.

Mass Incarceration’s Slow Decline

Recently however, there has been some incremental progress in reducing mass incarceration. In the last decade, prison populations have declined by about 10 percent. Racial disparities in the prison population have also fallen. This is the product of a bipartisan consensus that mass incarceration is a mistake. Lawmakers from both parties have come to realize that locking people up is an expensive, ineffective means to fight crime. Some conservative states like Texas have led the way, undoing many of the harsh policies passed in the 1980s and 1990s. States have seen their prison populations and crime rates decline simultaneously. Unfortunately, however, both President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are stout reform opponents, threatening the small progress that’s been made.

Yet, it’s important to remember that even at the current rate of decline, it will take decades to achieve incarceration rates appropriate to the current violent crime rate, which is roughly where it was in 1971. And while racial disparities are decreasing, the rate of incarceration for African Americans would only match whites after 100 years at the current pace.

The good news is that at last criminal justice policy has finally begun to change course. But without a sustained effort, this burst of reform will fall short. Mass incarceration was created through decades-long policy shifts at the national, state, and local level. Ending it will require policies just as far-reaching.


Ancient tools found by Texas State archaeologists could change understanding of history in America

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists discovered stone tools that are 16,000 years old. This tool is a stemmed point and is completely unique to the Gault site in Central Texas where it was dug up.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and they are 16,000 years old. All of the tools above are ones that had been found around Central Texas and are less than 13,000 years old.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists discovered stone tools that are 16,000 years old. The tool in the center is a stemmed point and is completely unique to the Gault site in Central Texas where it was dug up.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

These are stone tools dug up at the Gault Archaeological Site in Central Texas 40 miles north of Austin.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists recently published a paper announcing that they have discovered one of the oldest stone tools in the Americas, and it is 3,000 years older than it was previously believed that humans arrived.

N. Velchoff/Gault School of Archaeological Research Show More Show Less

Texas State archaeologists have found some of the oldest human artifacts in North America -- hidden underground in Central Texas.

The artifacts, which are estimated to be 16,000 years old and include a variety of stone tools used by humans, were dug up between 2007 and 2013 about 50 miles north of Austin at an archaeological site known as the Gault Site.

The new findings, published recently in the journal Science Advances, could forever change what is known about early humans in the Americas because the tools are 3,000 years older than the widely taught timeline for when humans first arrived in the Americas, said Thomas Williams, the assistant director of the Gault School of Archaeological Research at Texas State and lead author on the paper.

Science Advances is a peer-reviewed, online-only journal from the publisher of Science, the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Previously, it was believed that humans arrived in America after enough ice melted in North America to allow passage across the Bering Strait, which used to be a land bridge between modern-day Russia and Alaska but is now submerged, Williams said.

But this passage did not exist 16,000 years ago, Williams said. And the last glacial maximum, the time when glaciers covered North America as far south as Ohio, made passage into America via the Bering Strait impossible. The ice did not melt enough to allow travel until 13,000 years ago.

"We're talking about glaciers that are about three miles high. There's no food. There's no water," Williams said. "That's a huge land mass that's completely inhospitable for anything to survive . a mass that absolutely dwarfs every city skyline."

This means humans must have found some other way to reach the Americas, possibly by traveling along the coastline by boat.

"In doing this, you're talking about populations coming from the north down south, which means there has to be evidence older evidence out there for people to enter the New World and make it down to Central Texas," Williams said. "(This) is not going to be the final word because how did people get to Central Texas? How did they arrive here?"

This is not the first discovery of artifacts more than 13,000 years old in the Americas. Other sites, including one in Chile that might be 31,000 years old, are competing for the title of oldest evidence of humans in the Americas.

"There is still an ongoing debate scientifically about how valid some of those older claims are," Williams said.

However, Williams said this latest discovery adds more evidence to the idea that humans were in the Americas long before the Bering Land Bridge opened up.

A team of archaeologists, led by Texas State archaeology professor Michael Collins, used optically stimulated luminescence to deduce the age of the tools. The technique involves shining a light on grains of quartz and measuring radiation released to then see how old they are.

Even before the team figured out the precise age of the artifacts, they knew they had something special because one of them, a stemmed point, was unlike anything else in the region, Williams said.

The most common prehistoric tools fall into the category of Clovis technology and were likely invented after humans crossed the Bering Land Bridge, Gault Project director Nancy Velchoff said. A Clovis point is shaped like a leaf and has come to be the stereotype for prehistoric blades.

"What makes Clovis so special is that it covered the continent of North America," said Velchoff, who is a co-author of the paper regarding the pre-Clovis tools found at the Gault site. "No other technological stone tool culture has ever done that in the Americas."

The other element that makes artifacts predating Clovis stand out is their uniqueness, Velchoff said.

"These were very complex people, and they were very regionalized because most of our older-than-Clovis sites in and around North America, none of these tools look alike," Velchoff said.

Velchoff and Williams said there are still a number of unanswered questions about these artifacts. It is still unknown how exactly the people who made them got to Central Texas as well as where they were before.

"We don't know who these people are," Velchoff said. "We don't have organic materials to tell us what these people were doing besides making stone tools and using them for everyday tasks."

Robert Hard, an anthropology professor at UTSA, said the next step will be to look for patterns in both nearby sites as well as those across the country that have objects of a similar age.

"Right now, we have a lot of dots, but we don't have very good ways of connecting the dots," Hard said.

Jennifer Mathews, an archaeologist at Trinity University, said in an email that the peopling of the Americas has been one of the biggest debates in archaeology. In the past, Mathews said the beliefs about Clovis technology being the first in the Americas were so strong that archaeologists would stop digging if they found them.

Mathews said Texas State's find is especially significant because it comes from the Gault site, a 20-year venture that lends significant credibility to the discovery. However, she said she is still slightly skeptical because only one type of dating was used to determine the tool's age. Nevertheless, Matthews said she's intrigued.

"While this certainly doesn't end the debate, it puts another very large nail in the coffin in my opinion," Mathews said.

Despite how astonishing this discovery is, Velchoff said she is unsure when or how these findings will make their way into history books.

"It is not up to cutting edge science or the scientists to change what is taught in the classroom," Velchoff said. "We can only disseminate the results that in one way or another changes history itself."

Anthony Petrosino, an associate professor in the College of Education at UT-Austin, said breakthroughs like this easily find their way into college classrooms because they are the closest to where the research occurs. For K-12 education, however, change occurs much more slowly, especially because of the reliance on textbooks, Petrosino said.

"That takes quite a while for it to be memorialized in K-12 curricula," said Petrosino, who works in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. "There are some websites now that try to stay more updated, but for the most part, it's still basically a textbook driven mechanism. It just takes more time."

Petrosino said the "glacial pace" of textbook updates and the magnitude of Texas State's discovery puts potential adoption of it at the K-12 level years away at a minimum.

"That notion of going over the land bridge up at the Bering Strait is very ingrained in our culture, so that takes a long time to modify and, in a sense, to dispel," Petrosino said.

The other issue with the finding is it still leaves a lot of unanswered questions, which is something curricula writers tend to shy away from, Petrosino said.

"There's still a lot of research that's left to be done," Petrosino said. "Until the field really knows the full mechanisms of it, I don't think it's going to be fully embraced in the K-12 curriculum."

Regardless of when it becomes mainstream knowledge, Velchoff said this discovery, which is more than 10 years in the making, was especially exciting because of how close it is to home.

"We have archaeology right here in Texas," Velchoff said. "You don't have to go to Egypt or Rome or Greece. It's right here in your backyard."


Several 13,000 year-old human footprints discovered on Canadian Pacific coast

Scientists were thrilled to identify the ancient footprint, confirming that humans came to North America at least 13,000 years ago. It’s the clearest smoking gun you could ask for.

Photograph of one of the tracks beside a digitally-enhanced image of the same feature. Note the toe impressions and arch indicating that this is a right footprint. Image credits: Duncan McLaren.

Canada’s Pacific Coast isn’t the nicest place to go looking for archaeological remains. It’s covered by thick, lush forests, and much of it is only accessible by boat. But scientists weren’t deterred by this. They excavated intertidal beach sediments on the shoreline of Calvert Island, British Columbia.

After a painstaking analysis, they identified 29 human footprints of at least three different sizes in these sediments. Using enhanced photography, they were able to clearly distinguish the footprints, and conclude that they probably belonged to two adults and one child, all barefoot.

“This article details the discovery of footprints on the west coast of Canada with associated radiocarbon dates of 13,000 years before present,” says Duncan McLaren, lead author of the study. “This finding provides evidence of the seafaring people who inhabited this area during the tail end of the last major ice age.”

At the end of the last ice age, sea level was 2-3 meters lower than it is today. This provides evidence that peoples in the Americas were using watercraft and exploring and thriving in coastal areas, McLaren told ZME Science. Along with the footprints, archaeologists also found several artifacts, indicating that people were passing through the area.

“We found a few stone tools with the footprints. We found them while subsurface testing for archaeological deposits dating between 14,000 and 10,000 years ago use the local sea level history as a guide,” McLaren added for ZME Science.

This finding adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the hypothesis that humans used a coastal route to move from Asia to North America during the last ice age. The authors suggest that further excavations with more advanced methods are likely to uncover more human footprints in the area and would help to piece together the patterns of early human settlement on the coast of North America.

Currently, researchers are carrying out preservation work around the footprints, also looking for similar areas which might yield valuable traces of ancient civilizations.

“We have stopped excavating the footprint to preserve them for future generations. Our research now turns to finding other areas on the coast that may have been ice free during the last ice age,” McLaren concluded.

Journal Reference: McLaren D, Fedje D, Dyck A, Mackie Q, Gauvreau A, Cohen J (2018) Terminal Pleistocene epoch human footprints from the Pacific coast of Canada. PLoS ONE 13(3): e0193522. https:/ / doi. org/ 10. 1371/ journal. pone. 0193522


3 Unusual City Growth

When cities grow, they tend to become denser. In other words, as the population increases, people live and work in closer proximity to each other. Researchers always thought that this encouraged the sharing of ideas and learning within a society. The tendency surfaced in most civilizations, even when they were completely separated by centuries and continents.

The Maya did not follow this trend. When one of their cities grew, it expanded outward. Instead of living closer to neighbors, people engaged in what archaeologists now call &ldquolow-density urbanism&rdquo&mdashavoiding density by moving the city&rsquos outer borders.

The Maya appeared to have liked their space, but where does that leave the close-proximity benefit of faster education?

The Maya were masters of many fields, so it clearly did not impact their information sharing or learning. This unusual approach challenges the very definition of a city and the old notion that cities grow denser. Archaeologists are not even sure if Mayan society worked differently or whether this pattern is somehow an odd result of how ruins have been studied. [8]


History of Pesticide Use

The practice of agriculture first began about 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia (part of present day Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Jordan) where edible seeds were initially gathered by a population of hunter/gatherers 1 . Cultivation of wheat, barley, peas, lentils, chickpeas, bitter vetch and flax then followed as the population became more settled and farming became the way of life. Similarly, in China rice and millet were domesticated, whilst about 7,500 years ago rice and sorghum were farmed in the Sahel region of Africa. Local crops were domesticated independently in West Africa and possibly in New Guinea and Ethiopia. Three regions of the Americas independently domesticated corn, squashes, potato and sunflowers 2 .

It is clear that the farmed crops would suffer from pests and diseases causing a large loss in yield with the ever present possibility of famine for the population. Even today with advances in agricultural sciences losses due to pests and diseases range from 10-90%, with an average of 35 to 40%, for all potential food and fibre crops 3 . There was thus a great incentive to find ways of overcoming the problems caused by pests and diseases. The first recorded use of insecticides is about 4500 years ago by Sumerians who used sulphur compounds to control insects and mites, whilst about 3200 years ago the Chinese were using mercury and arsenical compounds for controlling body lice 4 . Writings from ancient Greece and Rome show that religion, folk magic and the use of what may be termed chemical methods were tried for the control of plant diseases, weeds, insects and animal pests. As there was no chemical industry, any products used had to be either of plant or animal derivation or, if of mineral nature, easily obtainable or available. Thus, for example, smokes are recorded as being used against mildew and blights. The principle was to burn some material such as straw, chaff, hedge clippings, crabs, fish, dung, ox or other animal horn to windward so that the smoke, preferably malodorous, would spread throughout the orchard, crop or vineyard. It was generally held that such smoke would dispel the blight or mildew. Smokes were also used against insects, as were various plant extracts such as bitter lupin or wild cucumber. Tar was also used on tree trunks to trap crawling insects. Weeds were controlled mainly by hand weeding but various “chemical” methods are also described such as the use of salt or sea water 5,6 . Pyrethrum, which is derived from the dried flowers of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium “Pyrethrum daisies”, has been used as an insecticide for over 2000 years. Persians used the powder to protect stored grain and later, Crusaders brought information back to Europe that dried round daisies controlled head lice 7 . Many inorganic chemicals have been used since ancient times as pesticides 8 , indeed Bordeaux Mixture, based on copper sulphate and lime, is still used against various fungal diseases.

Up until the 1940s inorganic substances, such as sodium chlorate and sulphuric acid, or organic chemicals derived from natural sources were still widely used in pest control. However, some pesticides were by-products of coal gas production or other industrial processes. Thus early organics such as nitrophenols, chlorophenols, creosote, naphthalene and petroleum oils were used for fungal and insect pests, whilst ammonium sulphate and sodium arsenate were used as herbicides. The drawback for many of these products was their high rates of application, lack of selectivity and phytotoxicity 9 . The growth in synthetic pesticides accelerated in the 1940s with the discovery of the effects of DDT, BHC, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, chlordane, parathion, captan and 2,4-D. These products were effective and inexpensive with DDT being the most popular, because of its broad-spectrum activity 4 ,10 . DDT was widely used, appeared to have low toxicity to mammals, and reduced insect-born diseases, like malaria, yellow fever and typhus consequently, in 1949, Dr. Paul Muller won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering its insecticidal properties. However, in 1946 resistance to DDT by house flies was reported and, because of its widespread use, there were reports of harm to non-target plants and animals and problems with residues 4,10 .

Throughout most of the 1950s, consumers and most policy makers were not overly concerned about the potential health risks in using pesticides. Food was cheaper because of the new chemical formulations and with the new pesticides there were no documented cases of people dying or being seriously hurt by their "normal" use 11 . There were some cases of harm from misuse of the chemicals. But the new pesticides seemed rather safe, especially compared to the forms of arsenic that had killed people in the 1920s and 1930s 12 . However, problems could arise through the indiscriminate use and in 1962 these were highlighted by Rachel Carson in her book Silent Spring 13 . This brought home the problems that could be associated with indiscriminate use of pesticides and paved the way for safer and more environmentally friendly products.

Research into pesticides continued and the 1970s and 1980s saw the introduction of the world’s greatest selling herbicide, glyphosate, the low use rate sulfonylurea and imidazolinone (imi) herbicides, as well as dinitroanilines and the aryloxyphenoxypropionate (fop) and cyclohexanediones (dim) families. For insecticides there was the synthesis of a 3 rd generation of pyrethroids, the introduction of avermectins, benzoylureas and Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) as a spray treatment. This period also saw the introduction of the triazole, morpholine, imidazole, pyrimidine and dicarboxamide families of fungicides. As many of the agrochemicals introduced at this time had a single mode of action, thus making them more selective, problems with resistance occurred and management strategies were introduced to combat this negative effect.

In the 1990s research activities concentrated on finding new members of existing families which have greater selectivity and better environmental and toxicological profiles. In addition new families of agrochemicals have been introduced to the market such as the triazolopyrimidine, triketone and isoxazole herbicides, the strobilurin and azolone fungicides and chloronicotinyl, spinosyn, fiprole and diacylhydrazine insectides. Many of the new agrochemicals can be used at grams rather than the kilograms per hectare.

New insecticide 14 and fungicide 15 chemistry has allowed better resistance management and improved selectivity This period also saw the refinement of mature products in terms of use patterns with the introduction of newer and more user-friendly and environmentally safe formulations 9 . Integrated pest management systems, which use all available pest control techniques in order to discourage the development of pest populations and reduce the use of pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified, have also contributed to reducing pesticide use 16 .

Today the pest management toolbox has expanded to include use of genetically engineered crops designed to produce their own insecticides or exhibit resistance to broad spectrum herbicide products or pests. These include herbicide tolerant crops like soybeans, corn, canola and cotton and varieties of corn and cotton resistant to corn borer and bollworm respectively 9 . In addition the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems which discourage the development of pest populations and reduce the use of agrochemicals have also become more widespread. These changes have altered the nature of pest control and have the potential to reduce and/or change the nature of agrochemicals used.

1 . Impetus for sowing and the beginning of agriculture: Ground collecting of wild cereals M.E. Kislev, E. Weiss and A. Hartmann, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101 (9) 2692-2694 (2004)

2. Primal Seeds, Origin of Agriculture

3 . Economic Benefits of Pest Management R. Peshin, Encyclopedia of Pest Management, pages 224-227, Pub. Marcel Dekker, 2002