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Humans may have taken different path into Americas than thought

Arctic passage wouldn’t have provided enough food for the earliest Americans’ journey

1:14pm, August 10, 2016
North American Arctic

BARREN LANDSCAPE  A passage between the colossal glaciers that once covered the North American Arctic, shown here in present day, may have contained too little vegetation and wildlife to nourish the earliest human migrations into the rest of the Americas.

The first American pioneers could not have reached the New World the way most textbooks say they did, researchers conclude in a new study. An open corridor through the ice-covered North American Arctic was too barren to support human migrations before around 12,600 years ago, fossilized DNA evidence suggests.

“If you look at a textbook about the earliest people in the Americas, you’ll see an arrow going from Siberia, into Alaska and through this interior ice-free corridor,” says study coauthor Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Copenhagen. “This whole schoolbook example of how the Americas were populated seems to fall apart.”

By analyzing DNA embedded inside ancient lakebeds, Willerslev and colleagues reconstructed the ecological history of a segment of the passage. Though it was ice-free during the earliest human migrations — dating back at least 14,700 years — for thousands of years,

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