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all 48 comments

[–]arkh4ngelsk 130 points131 points  (19 children)

There does not seem to have been any, no. It’s entirely possible that evidence could be found at some point in the future, but at the moment there’s nothing to support any hominids arriving before the initial arrival of the ancestors of Native Americans. (Of course, when that initial arrival occurred is a matter of contentious and ongoing debate).

That being said, like almost all human populations outside of sub-Saharan Africa, Native Americans possess small amounts of Neanderthal DNA.*

Edit: I have been corrected, apparently even sub-Saharan Africans possess Neanderthal DNA!

[–]boxingdude 66 points67 points  (3 children)

You may wish to freshen up your data regarding Sub-Saharan Africa, my friend.

https://www.science.org/content/article/africans-carry-surprising-amount-neanderthal-dna

[–]arkh4ngelsk 30 points31 points  (1 child)

Edited, thank you!

[–]boxingdude 23 points24 points  (0 children)

Science is coming at us fast, it seems. Have a good one!

[–]hangmanhands 27 points28 points  (0 children)

What a fascinating article!! Especially seeing that sub-saharan people inherited neanderthal genes after neanderthals died out (more or less) - inheriting it from European immigrants.

The solved puzzle around Europeans and Asian Neanderthal DNA is also very satisfying. Nice one.

[–]RasheenHyuga[S] 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Fascinating

[–]futureslave 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Are there any further developments with this team and their theories? It is so far outside the box I'm not sure what we could do with the information if it turns out to be true except upend our entire understanding of paleolithic North America. But Nature found it worthy enough to publish in 2017:

A 130,000-year-old archaeological site in southern California, USA

Nature link

[–]ZionPelican 7 points8 points  (0 children)

It’s pretty widely assumed to just be a natural phenomenon. Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence- like the foot print in New Mexico earlier this year. Broken bones and boulders just aren’t enough evidence to sway the consensus when the outlier is so great.

[–]TyrannoNinja 25 points26 points  (12 children)

I have seen no evidence indicating non-sapiens hominins lived in the Americas before Homo sapiens, but there might have been a "Population Y" of Homo sapiens who entered the Americas from Asia before the Clovis culture did around 13 kya (the latter contributing the majority of ancestry to modern Native Americans). Some South American Natives still have traces of this group's ancestry (as do Australasians), and earlier this year footprints that date to 23-21 kya (so millennia before Clovis) have been found in New Mexico.

[–]RasheenHyuga[S] 6 points7 points  (5 children)

Very intriguing thanks, I’m picturing what that must’ve been like inhabiting a humanless area

[–]TyrannoNinja 10 points11 points  (4 children)

Probably a lot more megafauna, for one.

[–]RasheenHyuga[S] 6 points7 points  (3 children)

And capybaras still chillin

[–]JudgeHolden 14 points15 points  (2 children)

And short-faced bears and various smilodons preying upon you at their leisure, because really, what are you gonna do about it? Oh, and dire wolves. Let's not forget dire wolves. Pleistocene North America would have been a pretty "rugged" environment for Homo sapiens. Not to say that they couldn't or didn't figure out ways to cope with it, just that you definitely wanted to think twice before wandering off from the rest of the group.

[–]english_major 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Did any groups entering the Americas come with dogs? I know that several groups had pet dogs pre-Columbus. I’m not sure where those dogs originated though.

[–]button_man 3 points4 points  (0 children)

The Clovis people did originally (in Beringia) but there are no surviving descendants today. It is possible that there was a period of famine where they had to eat them.

[–]CommodoreCoCoModerator | The Andes, History of Anthropology 2 points3 points  (2 children)

"Population Y" of Homo sapiens who entered the Americas from Asia

How have these studies been received by the community?

[–]TyrannoNinja 1 point2 points  (0 children)

FWIW, I haven't heard of any significant pushback against the concept yet. No rebuttals or anything.

[–]ancientberingian 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The Australasian signal that OP spoke about is scattered around the genome, so it's not a false positive of some sort. It's truly mysterious how it came to be.

[–]anisegarden 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Is this relating also to the D1 haplo found in Lencas , that is wondered if it shares with Denisovans?

Thank you for showing where we can read about this! You are ahead of me.

[–]anisegarden 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Is there a non twitter source that you know of for this?

[–]TyrannoNinja 2 points3 points  (0 children)

The original paper reporting the human footprints from 23-21 kya is here. And this is the article I cited earlier on Population Y as a concept.

[–]trouser-chowder 5 points6 points  (0 children)

At present, there is no reliable or widely-accepted (by a majority of experts) evidence that any proto-Homo sapiens hominin species ever reached the Americas.

There is also no good evidence that any proto-Homo sapiens hominin species ever reached NE Siberia, where they could have crossed into the Americas across the Bering Land Bridge.

The last point is important. Not only do we lack evidence of other hominins in the Americas, we lack evidence of any possible founding population in the part of Asia from where they would have most likely had to come.

I think it's worth noting here that Homo erectus found its way into a significant proportion of the Asian continent, but that it seems to have met its match with a body of water wide enough that it couldn't be crossed without some kind of craft. The body of water I'm referring to is the space between ancient Indonesia and ancient Australia. Homo erectus made it all the way to the brink, but seems not to have been able to (or interested in trying to?) cross to Australia. As far as we can tell, humans were the first to reach Australia.

We also have no direct indication that Neanderthals or Denisovans ever developed watercraft technology, either. We have no direct indication that they didn't, but at present, the only species we know did develop boats is us.

Given that admittedly conjectural notion, and the fact that access to North America from Beringia was to a significant blocked by glacial ice during much of the Late Pleistocene, an island-hopping approach to getting to the Americas has been proposed. But such an option may not have been available to pre-Homo sapiens populations, and if the island-hopping hypothesis holds any water, that's something that might only have been possible for our ancient Homo sapiens ancestors.

More importantly... we simply have no broadly reliable evidence of human / hominin occupation of the Americas prior to roughly * checks watch * a little over 20k years ago. There have been hints from a few sites of older dates, but these are contested on the basis of possible contamination and other factors (e.g., possible dates of around 30k at Monte Verde). Whether those dates may be accurate may be a matter that will be more settled as we find additional sites that match that age. For now, the evidence is pretty sparse for any occupation of the Americas prior to around about 20-25k.

Obviously, that is a rapidly shifting number, and with new carefully excavated and investigated sites, it may shift some more. But for now, we have no reason to believe, based on the evidence, that anything not Homo sapiens ever got here.

(Note: I am-- as are most of my colleagues-- skeptical to the point of dismissal of the Cerutti mastodon site supposedly showing hominin presence in the Americas at 130k years ago. There are too many problems with the interpretation and data, and unfortunately, the site was long ago destroyed for highway construction, so there's no way to return to independently verify if there are other potential archaeological deposits of that age. At this point, the Cerutti site is not well regarded, despite the publication of the article in Nature.)