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No. 120: Nov-Dec 1998

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Where Did They Come From?

It appears more and more likely that South America was colonized earlier and separately from North America. Reason #1 is that the oldest recognized sites in North America are only 11,200 years old, while the Monte Verde site in southern Chile is now generally admitted to be 12,500 years old. Reason #2 is the distance gap of about 5,000 miles between the two sites. So far, there is no evidence of cultural continuity.

The time gap is likely to enlarge in a huge quantum jump because of excavations at an intriguing green knoll at Monte Verde. Some 6 feet below its surface is a sedimentary layer containing charcoal in clay-lined pits and humanfractured pebbles. This sedimentary layer is carbon-dated at 33,000 years ago -- some 20,000 years before the ancestors of North America's Clovis people are said to have trekked across the Bering land bridge.

(Wilford, John Noble; "Chilean Field Yields New Clues to Peopling of Americas," New York Times, August 25, 1998. Cr. M. Colpitts)

New Clues. Just to the north of Monte Verde, on the coast of southern Peru, traces of a hitherto unknown, 11,000-year-old maritime culture have emerged. For short, the new site is called QJ-280 (for Quebrada Jaguay 280). QJ-280 is now about 2 kilometers inland from the Pacific Ocean. But 11,000 years ago, sea levels were lower, and it was 7-8 kilometers inland. This site is littered with the bones of fish and marine birds, such as cormorants. The people of QJ-280 were obviously familiar with the sea and exploited it almost exclusively. Whence this maritime culture? Did they come down the coast from North America or across the wide Pacific?

Further, the OJ-280 site has yielded obsidian, which could only have come from the highlands 130 kilometers to the east. Did the QJ-280 mariners penetrate that far inland, or did they trade with an unrecognized highland culture?

Finally, equally old Paleoindian sites have been researched by A. Roosevelt in the lowlands near the Atlantic coast -- a continent away. These jungle cultures had developed entirely different ways of living from the others just mentioned. In this context, Roosevelt commented:

"There's no apparent ancestral relationship between Clovis and these people in South America."

(Pringle, Heather; "Traces of Ancient Mariners Found in Peru," Science, 281: 1775, 1998. Sandweiss, Daniel H., et al; "Quebrada Jaguay: Early South American Maritime Adaptations," Science, 281:1830, 1998.)

From Science Frontiers #120, NOV-DEC 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987