People roamed tip of South America 18,500 years ago | Science News

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People roamed tip of South America 18,500 years ago

Stone tools and charred animal bones from Monte Verde help to rewrite human history in the New World

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7:00am, November 30, 2015
stone tool from Monte Verde

AMERICAN MADE  A 18,500- to 17,000-year-old stone artifact unearthed at Chile’s Monte Verde site, shown from the side (left) and top (right), contains smooth areas where pieces of the rock were struck off to create a scraping or cutting tool. Researchers say humans first visited the site at least 18,500 years ago.

Human groups foraged near the bottom of South America between at least 18,500 and 14,500 years ago, researchers say. Their new discoveries challenge a popular view in archaeology that people entered South America no earlier than 15,000 years ago.

Excavations in southern Chile indicate that ancient human groups sporadically passed through that area over a 4,000-year stretch, say archaeologist Tom Dillehay of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and colleagues. Discoveries near the previously explored Monte Verde site add to evidence that the earliest New World settlers were not members of the Clovis culture, the investigators report November 18 in PLOS ONE. Clovis people hunted big game with distinctive spearpoints and camped at sites with large hearths. Clovis sites date to as early as 13,390 years ago in what is now the United States and Mexico (

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