Bandelier cliff dwelling features in New Mexio, where the oldest artifact was a clovis point. Image credit: Artotem / Flickr
Bandelier cliff dwelling features in New Mexico, where the oldest artifact was a Clovis point. Image credit: Artotem / Flickr
A Clovis projectile point created using bifacial percussion flaking (on both sides).

New findings by archaeologists provide new fascinating clues on who the first Americans were.

In 2002 the archaeologist Dennis Jenkins found some ancient human feces in mountain caves near the town of Paisley, in Oregon, United States.

14,300 Years Ago

These, on first sight insignificant prehistoric human remains, now appears to have changed American history forever.

Dennis Jenkins began to analyze the feces together with the Danish evolutionary biologist Eske Willerslev. They aimed to chart the DNA and possibly accurately date them. And they were indeed successful.

The feces appears to be more than 14,300 years old. Thus older than previously thought possible. A time when no humans were believed to exist on the American continents. They thereby completely change our knowledge of early human immigration into the Americas.

The new theory would indicate that not only was America colonized earlier than previously assumed, it has probably been done in several stages.

The Clovis

The caves in which the feces was found is believed to have belonged to the Clovis people, who has long been regarded as the first human inhabitants of the “New World”. And they were long considered to be the ancestors of all the indigenous cultures of North and South America.

The so-called “Clovis First” theory presents the idea that these people crossed the Beringia land bridge over the Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska during a period of lowered sea levels during the last ice age.

They were so named after the distinct stone tools found at sites near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1920s and 1930s.

These newly analyzed feces was however found with arrowheads dissimilar to those used by the Clovis people. The findings, therefore, seems to indicate that the Clovis were not the first Americans. That other waves of immigration seem to have settled the continents. Perhaps, even via the ocean by Polynesians.

This is not the first evidence to support the claims of an older culture that the Clovis however. Excavation of an occupation site at Buttermilk Creek, Texas, in 2011 resulted in findings that indicate the existence of older human activity in the area.

Jenkins and his team still affirm that the first Americans came via Siberia or eastern Asia – although earlier than previously thought. And based on the DNA evidence found in the caves, the haplogroups (the DNA types) are similar to what you find among certain Asian groups, and also among Native American groups. So this definitely suggests that the people are Asians in origin and probably the ancestors of all Native Americans.

The findings was published in the journal Science. And hit these two links with Dennis Jenkins talking about the findings, Jenkins Coprolites Summary and Dennis Jenkins Coprolite Work.