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Footprints oldest evidence of humans in the Americas 23,000 years old

Discussion in 'The Living World' started by shunyadragon, Sep 23, 2021.

  1. YoursTrue

    YoursTrue Faith-confidence in what we hope for (Hebrews 11)

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  2. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    I am reviewing more of the research articles from scientific journals. The following has a photo of excavation shows the labeled footprint locations and to scalle the trench and after measueing more carefully over 10 feet below tha surface.

    Footprints oldest evidence of humans in the Americas 23,000 years old

    Found a better source than the WSJ; an article in the journal Nature:

    Source: Ancient footprints could be oldest traces of humans in the Americas[/cite


    Children left tracks in New Mexico around 22,500 years ago — thousands of years before most scientists thought humans settled in North America.

    White Sands National Park, in southern New Mexico, is known for chalk-coloured dunes that stretch for hundreds of square kilometres. But at the height of the last Ice Age, the region was wetter and grassier. Mammoths, giant sloths and other animals walked the muddy shores of shallow lakes that grew and shrank with the seasons. And they had company.

    In a landmark study published on 23 September in Science1, researchers suggest that human footprints from an ancient lakeshore in the park date to between 21,000 and 23,000 years old. If the dating is accurate — which specialists say is likely — the prints represent the earliest unequivocal evidence of human occupation anywhere in the Americas.

    “The evidence is very convincing and extremely exciting,” says Tom Higham, an archaeological scientist and radiocarbon-dating expert at the University of Vienna. “I am convinced that these footprints genuinely are of the age claimed.”

    The dates raise questions about when and how humans from Siberia settled in the region, with evidence growing that they skirted the Pacific coast while inland routes were entrenched in ice. The authors of the study say the footprints give credence to contentious evidence of even earlier signs of settlement in the Americas.

    “The paper makes a very compelling case that these footprints are not only human, but they’re older than 20,000 years,” says Spencer Lucas, a palaeontologist at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science in Albuquerque. “That’s a game-changer.”

    Rocky evidence

    For decades, archaeologists associated the earliest Americans with 11,000–13,000-year-old stone spear points and other vestiges of ‘Clovis’ culture (named after another New Mexico site, but found throughout North America). The dates coincide with the recession of a continent-size glacier, which created an ice-free corridor through central Canada.

    The discovery of numerous 'pre-Clovis' archaeological sites, from Alaska to the tip of South America, dating to as old as 16,000 years, sowed doubts about the ‘Clovis-first’ hypothesis and argued for a coastal migration route from Siberia.

    Research journals are dotted with claims of even earlier sites, including a controversial Nature paper that put humans in California 130,000 years ago2. But many of these claims have been discounted because of the equivocality of the evidence: rocks potentially mistaken for tools, marks on animal bones that might have been made by natural processes — or diggers, in the case of the California claim — rather than butchery.

    White Sands is filled with human and animal fossil footprints — in 2018, the same team that found the tracks in the latest paper documented a giant sloth hunt on a dried-up lake bed known as a playa3. But these tracks are notoriously difficult to date, says study co-author Matthew Bennett, a geoscientist at Bournemouth University in Poole, UK, who specializes in the study of fossil footprints. “Every time you uncover something it’s a potentially a different age. Dating is a nightmare.”

    Ancient seeds

    In 2019, study co-author David Bustos, an archaeologist and resource manager at White Sands, identified a site on the playa that had tracks that led right into layers of rock-hard sediment. The rock contained seeds of spiral ditchgrass (Ruppia cirrhosa), an aquatic plant that could be carbon-dated to determine the age of the tracks. “That’s the holy grail of trying to date footprints,” says Bennett.

    He and his colleagues weren’t surprised when radiocarbon dating by researchers at the US Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado, determined that the seeds were between 21,000 and 23,000 years old, because a previous small-scale excavation had dated the sediment to around the same time. But Bennett says the team knew that claims of human occupation at this age would draw extreme scrutiny.

    So they attempted to address factors that could skew the seeds’ ages. The most likely was a phenomenon whereby organisms incorporate carbon that has leached into the water from nearby rocks, such as calcium carbonate in limestone. Such carbon sources tend to be much older than the carbon in Earth’s atmosphere.

    The researchers say such ‘reservoir effects’ are unlikely. They dated hundreds of seeds in different sediment layers and their ages fell into line, with older seeds at the bottom, younger on top. If the seeds had incorporated old carbon, there would probably have been more variation, says co-author Daniel Odess, an archaeologist at the US National Park Service in Washington DC. At a site in the region that didn’t have any footprints, spiral ditchweed seeds date to the same age as charcoal in the same layer — which is not subject to reservoir effects.

    “I really think those ages are okay,” says Thomas Stafford, an experimental geochronologist at Stafford Research Laboratories in Lafayette, Colorado. Even a 1,000-year error wouldn’t tarnish the importance of the footprints, he points out. “Whether people were here 20,000, or 22,000, or 19,000 years ago, does not change their incredible story,” Stafford adds. “We have human footprints.”

    Teenage tracks

    The team determined that the several dozen tracks probably belonged to numerous individuals, mostly children and teenagers. “To me this makes perfect sense,” says Odess. “When I was young I was always heading to the water. Stream, river, pond, whatever it was. Given the chance, I would probably walk in mud more than dry ground.”

    Karen Moreno, a palaeoichnologist at Austral University of Chile in Valdivia, has no doubt that the tracks are human. She isn’t yet convinced that they were mostly made by children, because these estimates are based on the statures of modern people. But she says the tracks could shine a light on the earliest humans in America. “This older community most probably had a different and complex way of life.”

    Now that there is strong evidence that humans settled the Americas more than 20,000 years ago, researchers should grapple with the consequences, says Bennett. He hopes the White Sands footprints will force researchers to reconsider sites that have more equivocal evidence of early human occupation.

    David Meltzer, an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, is convinced by the White Sands footprints, but disagrees that they give credence to the more controversial sites. However, if stone tools or other artefacts associated with the track-makers could be discovered, this could allow such connections to be drawn, Meltzer adds.

    The footprints make it “extremely likely” that the ancestors of the White Sands humans and other early settlers travelled along the Pacific coast, says Higham. The next step will be to identify the people who arrived through these Ice Age voyages, he adds. “An urgent research priority is not just to find footprints such as these, but the remains of the people who made them.”


    Source

    © Copyright Original Source




    Here is a picture of the excavation trench in which they were found.



    Excavations in White Sands National Park reveal human footprints at the base of a trench,


    [​IMG]

    Excavations in White Sands National Park reveal human footprints at the base of a trench.Credit: National Park Service, USGS and Bournemouth University







     
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  3. YoursTrue

    YoursTrue Faith-confidence in what we hope for (Hebrews 11)

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    Do you know when the excavation of that area took place? In other words, when was that area of the trench dug up?
     
  4. YoursTrue

    YoursTrue Faith-confidence in what we hope for (Hebrews 11)

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    Looking at the picture and your answer, I'd have to ask how many lake deposits there were. I'll look more into that as well as what are alluvial flood plains.
     
  5. YoursTrue

    YoursTrue Faith-confidence in what we hope for (Hebrews 11)

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  6. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    The trench cut is fresh not old within the past year or so of publication. The trench was a part of the research investigation, and NOT an older excavation.
     
    #26 shunyadragon, Sep 26, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
  7. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    I am not sure of the purpose of your question. As a geologist I am familiar with these rypes of excavation. From the picture there are thousands of individual flood and/or seasonal light and dark layers related to alluvial flooding or lakustrian seasonal layers just like these are found in lake deposits all over the world in seasonal layers often tens of thousands of layers.
     
  8. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    I am not sure of the purpose of your question. As a geologist I am familiar with these rypes of excavation. From the picture there are thousands of individual flood and/or seasonal light and dark layers related to alluvial flooding or lakustrian seasonal layers just like these are found in lake deposits all over the world in seasonal alyers often tens of thousands of layerx.
     
  9. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    Aquatic in this case represents flood and or seasonal lake deposits. Yes it is common for seeds to found in these types of deposits all over the world just as they are found in these deposits formin today.
     
  10. YoursTrue

    YoursTrue Faith-confidence in what we hope for (Hebrews 11)

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    Just wondering about great (very big) floods. Curious although they do leave deposits from other places, I figure the footprints are thought to have been placed there a long time ago. I have my questions, but leave it there for now. Thanks.
     
  11. YoursTrue

    YoursTrue Faith-confidence in what we hope for (Hebrews 11)

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    ok so these people are said to have been walking on some muddy territory otherwise their footprints wouldn't have been so deeply embedded, I suppose.
     
  12. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    Likely soft mud.
     
  13. YoursTrue

    YoursTrue Faith-confidence in what we hope for (Hebrews 11)

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    From the footprints as shown I would say so. But then, I wasn't there. And then what happened? A flood brought more sediment? Oh well, I'm not going to analyze it now.
     
  14. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    These sediments are not associated with very big floods. They are seasonal thin layered deposits over thousands of years.
     
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  15. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    Not large flood deposits. It was seasonal annual layers in lakes where the people lived just like what happens every year in lakes today. As is today the seasonal local flooding of streams and local runoff entering the lakes is the cause of the seasonal color difference in the layers.
     
    #35 shunyadragon, Sep 26, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2021
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  16. YoursTrue

    YoursTrue Faith-confidence in what we hope for (Hebrews 11)

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    Now my thinking (or wondering) takes me to how the ages of the deposits are determined. (It's not easy for me to understand...) I have been reading that carbon dating is what is used to determine the age of those things determined to be under 50,000 years old, is that right?
    So far this is what I got, and I'd like your opinion about this: (I sure do wish though that I had the internet when I was in school...)
    "The approximate age of ancient artifacts can be determined as long as the artifact is not older than 50,000 years. It’s a technique called carbon-14 dating. All organisms that live on the Earth are based on carbon. This would be wood, plants, animals and of course humans." I am assuming so far this also means rock and soil sediment. Here's where it gets interesting, and you as a geologist would give an opinion of this. So before I ask any further, if you care to, can you please give your opinion of the above statement in quotes I got from the following source:
    How Scientists Determine the Age of Ancient Artifacts | Actforlibraries.org
    I just want to stop there for your thought on that because it does get very interesting after that, and of course, I do have questions which I hope you can help me figure out the answer to.
     
  17. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    First these sediments and the related foot prints are only 23,000 years old far younger than 50,000 year limit for carbon 14 dating, The carbon rich layers between the lighter layers (See picture) can be easily Carbon-14 dated. Other methods are most often used today such as the Potassium/ Argon dating.
     
    #37 shunyadragon, Sep 27, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
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  18. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    And for the "Carbon 14 dating does not work" people that tends to be a problem when the Reservoir Effect is a problem. Sea life can have anomalously high age due to old carbon either in sea water or the sediments that life feeds on. They did not go into detail on how they did that but one way to make sure would be to date only seeds from terrestrial plants.
     
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  19. YoursTrue

    YoursTrue Faith-confidence in what we hope for (Hebrews 11)

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    I'm not sure if the article mentioned what type of method was used to date the footprints. I'll check.
     
  20. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    It clearly says that they used C14 dating and were careful to avoid the reservoir effect.
     
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