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"And the fact that Western Stemmed point-makers fully overlap, or even pre-date, Clovis point-makers likely means that Clovis peoples were not the sole founding population of the Americas." To date, there has been doubt that enough evidence exists that a separate group of hunter-gatherers lived in North America at the same time as or earlier than the Clovis.
"Stemming means that there is a long portion of the artifact that is not a part of the blade, and that goes down into the wood of the dart shaft, and then you lash it up and hope that it doesn't split when you cast it into the animal," said Dennis Jenkins of the University of Oregon, the lead author of a paper on the find, which was published Thursday in the journal Science.
In 2008, the two managed to date a series of coprolites (fossilized excrement) found at the Paisley Caves to 14,340 years ago, and to show through DNA analysis that they came from people who originated in Asia and were likely predecessors of modern indigenous North Americans.
The new discovery provides further evidence of the presence of people in that pre-Clovis period, and although it does not provide DNA evidence that these people were genetically different from the Clovis, in Jenkins's view, it does support the idea that there were two separate migrations to North America — one that came by way of a Pacific coastal route and another that came from the north via an ice-free corridor in the middle of the continent.
The find suggests North America was colonized by multiple cultures, some of whom arrived possibly earlier than the Clovis.
"Our investigations constitute the final blow to the Clovis First theory," said Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen's Centre for Geo Genetics, which did the DNA analysis, in a news release.
It doesn't speak language; it doesn't have genetics.
We don't know anything about its social organization — or very little.
The theory has been dominant since a number of spear points thought to be the first evidence of humans' arrival in North America were discovered in 1932 near the village of Clovis.
The Clovis method of making spear points out of flakes of obsidian rock has been thought to be the "mother technology" for all later technologies that emerged in North America. and Danish archeologists working at the Paisley Caves found evidence of so-called Western Stemmed spearheads at the site.
"Western Stemmed points are so common in the western United States and much less common in the eastern United States, and Clovis is just exactly the opposite ...
so it really looks like there is this east-west dichotomy." What makes the current results stronger than past data is that previous DNA-containing excrement found at the Paisley Caves was thought to be likely contaminated by DNA from later periods that seeped into the soil by way of water and urine from humans and animals.
"Culturally, biologically and chronologically, the theory is no longer viable.