human footprints: How did humans reach in North America during Ice Age

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human footprints: How did humans reach in North America during Ice Age

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Humans started migrating from Africa about 100,000 years ago. Apart from Antarctica, America was the last continent that humans reached. The ancestors of the Americans crossed the Bering land bridge that once connected Eastern Siberia with North America. This part is now submerged, which is known as the Bering Sea.

America was covered with snow 10 thousand years ago
During the Pleistocene ice age that ended about 10,000 years ago, large ice sheets covered much of Europe and North America. The water buried inside these ice sheets lowered the sea level, allowing people to bridge across Asia from the Arctic to Alaska. But, during the peak of the last glacial cycle their path south into the Americas was blocked by a wide ice sheet.

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Humans reached North America after the Ice Age
Until now scientists believed that when this ice began to melt, that is, 16,500 years ago, at that time humans only traveled to the South America. However, researchers have unearthed human footprints that indicate that humans set foot on the continent of North America thousands of years ago.

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Human footprints discovered in New Mexico
The footprints, discovered in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park, belonged to a group of juveniles, children, and adults, and were found at the height of the last glacial peak about 23,000 years ago. This makes them potentially the oldest evidence of a human species in the Americas. These findings support the idea that humans were present in the southern part of North America before the last glacial peak. This is a theory that has hitherto been disputed and is based on potentially unreliable evidence.

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Prehistoric humans faced ice age
There are thousands of fossil footprints on the white sand layers. These traces explain how prehistoric humans encountered ice age megafauna like Colombian elephants and giant bears. The footprints provide clear evidence that people in the Americas were at last glacial maximum height and not sometime later as previously thought. This is a big deal for our understanding of the genetic structure of the people of America and of Native Americans.

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Humans reached America 30 thousand years ago
The discovery may rekindle speculation about other archaeological sites in the Americas. One of them is Chiquihuete Cave in Mexico. Archaeologists recently claimed that the evidence from this cave shows that humans had made a presence in the Americas about 30,000 years ago, about 7,000 years before the white sand mark.

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However, the findings of Chiquihuite Cave are disputed because stone tools can be difficult to interpret and stone-like tools may have been made through natural processes. Stone tools may have been moved between layers of sediment and rock. But the fossil footprints can’t go on. They occur on a layer of soil or ice, and therefore provide more reliable evidence of when humans were present there.

(Matthew Robert Bennett and Sally Christine Reynolds, Bonmuth University) Bonmuth (UK)

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