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Giant Sloth

Were the Americas inhabited 30,000 years ago?


One of the most dramatic discoveries to fuel the debate about the date of habitation in the Americas was made in a streambed in southern Uruguay – a set of 30,000-year-old fossilised animals which show distinctive marks left by human tools.  The immense significance of the discovery is that mainstream archaeology says that humans began arriving in the Americas between 13,000 and 15,000 years ago, and the Clovis people of North and Central America are generally considered the "first Americans."

The fossils were first uncovered in 1997 when severe drought led local farmers to drain a lagoon in Arroyo del Vizcaíno, which exposed many fossilised animal remains. But these weren’t just any animals. The bones were gigantic.

It wasn’t until 2011 that a team of palaeontologists managed to break their way through the bureaucratic roadblocks to excavate the site, and over the next two years they unearthed thousands of fossils.  It turns out that the bones belong to giant sloths weighing up to 4 tonnes (the size of a small elephant), saber-toothed cats, oversized armadillos, and other mega fauna that roamed the Americas until around 11,000 years ago. 

Hunting mega fauna. Credit: Heinrich Harder

In an analysis published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B in November 2013, it was revealed that the fossils at Arroyo del Vizcaíno have been radiocarbon dated to between 29,000 to 30,000 years old. And, astonishingly, the bones had marks left by human tools. The team also found a potentially human-made scraper that could have been used on dry animal hides, and stone flakes.  If this is indeed the case, it means that humans inhabited the Americas at least 15,000 years before previously thought.

Study co-author Richard Fariña said the strength of the evidence lies in the team's methodology and the fact that two of the bones they tested for dating also bore markings similar to those made by human tools. "The association can't be closer than it is," he said.

But of course, such dramatic findings are never accepted easily.  There are already suggestions that the markings on the bones are the product of nature mimicking human tools. 

Further excavations at the site are already planned and it is estimated that it could yield a thousand more bones.

By April Holloway



AintGottaClue's picture

Given the anomalous finds in archaeology, a picture emerges of multiple origins and demises of civilization over a period of better than a million years. The most "recent" emergence of modern type civilization appears to date from perhaps 12-14,000 BC. It might be suggested that a few "survivors" from these civilizations carried on as best they could until building up in numbers sufficient to form large "villages, or even cities," and the beginning of larger scale civilization once again. With regard to the most recent emergence of civilization, you also have the problem of most being "full blown civilizations," with advanced knowledge (such as the Sumerian civilization, for one example), and with no explanation from conventional historians as to how that advanced knowledge was acquired. How does one go from the "primitive," to "full blown, modernistic, civilization," with no intermediate steps visible in the archaeological record? Using the Sumerians for an example, they had it all...from A - Z. Agriculture, animal husbandry, construction engineering, professional castes from bakers to jewelers, religion, sophisticated government and laws, science & mathematics, schools, a complete "modernistic," full blown civilization, that even the conventional historians are forced to admit they have no clue WHERE they came from, or HOW they acquired all this knowledge. There are, of course, other examples, as well, notably in South America, and Northwestern India. The "alien intervention" theories seem to form the only realistic explanation as to how all this knowledge was acquired literally "overnight." With the revival of the Rh Negative blood factor controversy, it also appears there is a good possibility that small groups of people were subject to deliberate genetic manipulation by those same "aliens." Whether any of the conventional historians like it or not, the "alien intervention" theory is the ONLY theory set forth (at least so far) that offers a rational, logical argument for this sudden appearance of full blown civilization in various parts of the world in the same time frame.

History is nowhere near as well known as we think it is.

Tsurugi's picture

I personally think the Hueyatlaco site pushed human presence in the Americas back to 280,000-300,000 years BP. Then there is the Nampa figurine, pushing it back as much as 2 million years BP. Not to mention all the artifacts discovered underneath Tabletop Mountain by the '49ers which were collected, catalogued, and eventually published by the head of the California U.S. Geological Survey at the time...those push it back as much as 350 million years, a number that is probably more a reflection of serious problems in stratigraphy dating than a measure of the age of the human race.

So 30,000BP doesn't seem difficult to accept, heh.

An open mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Were the Americas inhabited 30,000 years ago? - Of course they were...and a lot longer before that.

I think you're right, sadly. But I do think it's healthy to just have a natural skepticism so that you can be proven definitely wrong and you can say to yourself 'wow, fair enough; I was wrong but you've now definitely shown evidence of how I was wrong.' The trouble is, of course, do all scientists take the approach of healthy skepticism or unhealthy? 


aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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