Saturday, April 5, 2008

American History Goes to Shit

Fossilized human feces found in a cave near an Oregonian lake may tell researchers when and how humans first came to the Americas.

The coprolites - fossilized fecal matter - apparently pre-date the Clovis culture, which dominated the American continents just over 10,000 years ago. They were discovered in the Paisley Caves in 2002-2003, amongst other artifacts, including baskets, animal hides, wooden pegs, and the bones of what may have been pack animals.

The coprolites became the center of controversy when human DNA was found in them. It strongly suggests that there were people on the continent prior to the Clovis culture. Some initial studies suggest the DNA is closely related to groups indigenous to Siberia and East Asia. This bolsters the notion that the first American settlers came from Siberia.

"[They] either had to walk or sail along the American west coast to get around the ice cap... unless they arrived so long before the last ice age that the land passage wasn't yet blocked by ice," noted Eske Willerslev, director of the Centre for Ancient Genetics at Copenhagen University.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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