Riemer, Emily

Most scientists believe that people first came to North America at the end of the last Ice Age, between 11,000 and 13,500 years ago, crossing a land bridge that existed then between modern-day Russia and Alaska. But the recent discovery of what seem to be ancient footprints suggests there could have been several waves of migration to the Americas, and not all of them on foot.

In 2003, scientists reported the discovery of 160 fossilized human footprints beside what was once an ancient lake in Mexico. Now, after extensive tests, the archaeologists believe the prints were made 40,000 years ago, or about 30,000 years before it was previously thought humans had arrived in North America.

The discovery raises questions about the land-bridge theory and leaves scientists wondering if America’s earliest human immigrants could have come by boat, crossing the Pacific Ocean from Southeast Asia or Australia. Experts recommend caution, however. The marks are not clear enough to identify absolutely as human footprints. Researchers are looking for more evidence.

-Emily Riemer

Copyright Carus Publishing Company Nov/Dec 2005

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved