The long-held theory holds that North America was first populated by humans sometime around 23,000 years ago, during an Ice Age migration crossing a land bridge that connected Siberia to Alaska.
From there, humans began populating the continent up until 16,000 years ago.
Whether South America was colonized by humans exclusively by land or if they took one or more hops by sea is something that has been hotly debated for decades, without much resolution either way.
A new archaeological study examined artifacts that include animal bones and small tool deposits, and determined that Homo sapiens were living in the Southern Cone, where Argentina and Chile now are, by as early as 14,000 years ago – putting human settlement in the region at a much earlier date than previously thought and putting into question the theory that the Clovis peoples were the first to populate the Americas.
“If we follow the evolution of Homo sapiens from Africa to Asia and then crossing into North America, then the final continental step was the Southern Cone of South America,” Dan Rafuse, a co-author of the study, told the MailOnline. “Afterward, only islands were colonized.”
An anthropologist form Vanderbilt University earlier this year found ancient old stone technology that was completely different from Clovis culture tools willing digging near Puerto Montt in southern Chile at a site called Monte Verde.
This find added even more credence to artifacts found in Argentina at a site called Tres Arroyos – ancient tools, bone remains from some extinct animals and broken animal bones that appear to have been fractured by humans.
Using radiocarbon dating, the team found that the remains dated to between 14,064 and 13,068 years ago.
Despite the evidence, there are questions that remain to be answered.
“As archaeologists, we know from previous research what we would expect to find in our study region, and the material remains at the Arroyo Seco 2 site fit well into those expectations,” Rafuse said. “However, if in fact people did come from Asia into North America and finally arrived to the Southern Cone of South America, why are there not more sites in North and Central America with similar dates?”