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The woman’s bones, subjected to recent reexamination after spending the better part of four decades in storage, join a growing body of ancient skeletal remains that challenges traditional theories that the first visitors came here from northern Asia by way of a land bridge to Alaska.
The new evidence suggests that the first settlers could have been Polynesians or southern Asians who arrived by boat.
Until a couple of years ago, most scientists thought the earliest people to reach the New World arrived about 11,500 years ago, probably by walking across a land bridge where the Bering Strait now separates Alaska from Siberia.
History books describe them and their descendants as the Clovis peoples, big-game hunters who left stylized spear points that enabled archeologists to track their migration south through parting glaciers along the Rocky Mountains into the present-day United States and Latin America.
Gentry Steele, anthropologist at Texas A & M University.
Scientists increasingly postulate that the original colonizers of the New World might have taken a coastal route.
Johnson, curator of anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, part of the team involved in the research.
The skeletal remains consist of two thigh bones scooped from a gully at Arlington Canyon on Santa Rosa Island 40 years ago.
The tests were performed by Stafford Research Laboratories in Boulder, Colo., one of the nation’s preeminent carbon dating labs.
The results showed that the bones are probably 13,000 years old, 1,400 years older than previously thought.
Taylor said he hopes to double-check the older date by testing the same portion of femur that Stafford used. “He has a very good track record, he has scientific credibility and he does a lot of work on bones from the New World. Either way, the bones from Santa Rosa Island join an exclusive group of skeletons from the very earliest people to arrive in the Western Hemisphere.