Humans May Have Lived In North America Far Earlier Than You Thought

The mystery of when humanity began to spread out from Africa to other parts of the world has puzzled archeologists for a long time. According to Discovery Magazine, it has commonly been believed that the first humans to step foot in North America was around 13,000-15,500 B.C.E. However, archeologists continue to find evidence that suggests that they may have arrived here earlier than once believed.

Studies in both 2020 and 2021 found archeological evidence that humanity may have appeared in North America much earlier than expected. One 2020 study published in the journal, Nature, compiled evidence suggesting the earliest human presence in North America to be around 26,000 years ago. According to Science Alert, archeologists found human-made stone tools in Mexico that were up to 31,500 years old, suggesting that the earliest humans landed in North America before the last Ice Age. Now, even newer research published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution reports that humans may have arrived in North America up to 50,000 years ago; much earlier than anyone has found so far and tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

Ghost footprints of humans have been found in New Mexico

Some of the most recent evidence for early human habitants in the Americas includes new findings of "ghost footprints." According to Live Science, ghost footprints only become visible after rain when moisture fills the footprints for longer than on the rest of the ground. This allows for them to appear darker than the area around them. These footprints prove that ancient humans may have once walked in the area and carbon dating can help determine their age.

According to Cornell University, recent ghost footprints found on an Air Force missile range in a Utah desert could be up to 12,000 years old. This is only the second time that these types of footprints have been found with the other footprints being located in New Mexico (via NBC News). A research paper published in the journal, Science, estimated that the first set of ghost footprints could be 21,000 years old. However, these claims have been disputed.

Mammoth bones were also found dating back 50,000 years

Perhaps the most convincing evidence for early human existence in North America is that of fossilized mammoth bones at a place known as the Hartley site in Northern New Mexico. According to a paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution about the fossils, this particular set appears to have been broken by sharp objects. This has led researchers to believe that the mammoth was killed during a hunt.

The research team behind the paper is confident that their findings suggest that humans arrived in North America around 50,000 years ago. Lead author Timothy Rowe, professor at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas in Austin, states (via NBC News), "I think its a rock-solid radiocarbon date ... Skeptics will put everything under the microscope, but I think we checked every box." If these findings prove to be accurate, it could change our understanding of how and when the some of the first humans began spreading around the globe, particularly to the Americas.