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DNA, land bridge, Beringia, Ice Age, Americas, genetics, South America, humans, Paleoamerican, Naia, Luzia, skeletons, archaeology

Did Paleoamericans Reach South America First?

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In “Textbook Story of How Humans Populated America is Biologically Unviable, Study Finds, recently published in Ancient Origins, it was noted that DNA studies indicate that people could not have crossed the Beringia land bridge to enter the Americas 13,000 years ago because the “entry route was biologically unviable”. Although this finding by geneticists is surprising, it adds even more mystery to the archaeological evidence that anatomically modern humans were in South America tens of thousands of years before Ice Age people could have crossed a viable land bridge between Alaska and Siberia.

Bering land bridge.

Bering land bridge. (Public Domain)

The earliest dates for habitation of the American continent to occur below Canada in South America are highly suggestive that the earliest settlers on the American continents came from Africa before the Ice melted at the Bering Strait and moved northward as the ice melted. An African origin for these people is a good fit because Ocean Currents would have carried migrants from Africa to the Americas, since there were no Ice Age sheets of ice to block passage across the southern Atlantic.

Important Archeological Sites

Dr. Bryan, in Natural History has noted many sites where PaleoAmericans have left us evidence of human habitation, including the pebble tools at Monte Verde in Chile (c.32,000 Before Present), rock paintings at Pedra Furada in Brazil (c.22,000 BP), and mastodon hunting in Venezuela and Colombia (c.13,000 BP). These discoveries have led some researchers to believe that the Americas were first settled from South America.

The main evidence from the ancient Americans are prehistoric tools and rock art, like those found by Dr. Nieda Guidon. Today archaeologists have found sites of human occupation from Canada to Chile that range between 20,000 and 100,000 years old. Guidon, in numerous articles claims that Africans were in Brazil between 65,000-100,000 years ago. Guidon also claims that man was at the Brazilian sites 65,000 years ago. She told the New York Times that her dating of human populations in Brazil 100,000 years ago was based on the presence of ancient fire and tools of human craftsmanship at habitation sites.

Martin and R. G. Klein, after discussing the evidence of mastodon hunting in Venezuela 13,000 years ago, observed that: "The thought that the fossil record of South America is much richer in evidence of early archaeological associations than many believed is indeed provocative.... Have the earliest hunters been overlooked in North America? “

Warwick Bray has pointed out that there are numerous sites in North and South America which are over 35,000 years old.  A.L. Bryan noted that these sites include, the Old Crow Basin (c.38,000 BC) in Canada; Orogrande Cave (c.36,000 BC) in the United States; and Pedra Furada (c.45,000 BC) in Brazil.

Stone arch at Pedra Furada, Brazil.

Stone arch at Pedra Furada, Brazil. (Public Domain)

Using craniometric quantitative analysis and multivariate methods, Dr. Neves determined that Paleo Americans were either Australian, African or Melanesians. The research of Neves indicated that the ancient Americans represent two populations, PaleoAmericans who were phenotypically African, Australian or Melanesian and an Asiatic population that appears to have arrived in the Americas after 6000 BC. 

Melanesian Blond girl from Vanuatu.

Melanesian Blond girl from Vanuatu. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Archaeologist have reconstructed the faces of ancient Americans from Brazil and Mexico. These faces are based on the skeletal remains dating back to 12,000BC. The PaleoAmericans resemble the first Europeans.

PaleoAmericans and First European

PaleoAmericans and First European

Researchers working on the prehistoric cultures of these ancient people note that they resemble the Black Variety of humanity, instead of contemporary Native Americans. The Black Variety include the Blacks of Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific.

Dr. Chatters, who found Naia's skeleton, told Smithsonian Magazine that: “The small number of early American specimens discovered so far have smaller and shorter faces and longer and narrower skulls than later Native Americans, more closely resembling the modern people of Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific. "This has led to speculation that perhaps the first Americans and Native Americans came from different homelands," Chatters continues, "or migrated from Asia at different stages in their evolution."

A cast of Luzia's skull at the National Museum of Natural History.

A cast of Luzia's skull at the National Museum of Natural History. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Although Dr. Chatters believes the PaleoAmericans came from Asia, this seems unlikely, because of the Ice sheet that blocked migration from Asia into the Americas. C. Vance Haynes noted that: "If people have been in South America for over 30,000 years, or even 20,000 years, why are there so few sites? [....]One possible answer is that they were so few in number; another is that South America was somehow initially populated from directions other than north until Clovis appeared".

The fact that the Beringia land bridge was unviable 15,000 years ago make it unlikely that during the Ice Age man would have been able to walk or to sail from Asia to South America at this time. As a result, these people were probably from Africa, as suggested by Dr. Guidon.

Prehistoric Sea Travel

In summary, the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska was unviable before 13,000 BC. Even though man could not enter the Americas until after 14,000 years ago, man was probably in South America as early 100,000 years ago, according to Dr. Guidon’s research in Brazil.

The first people in the Americas are called PaleoAmericans. The research of Chatters and Neves indicate that the PaleoAmericans were not Asiatic. These researchers claim the PaleoAmericans, “more closely resembl[ed] the modern people of Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific.”

The first Americans probably came to the Americas by sea, due to the unviable land route to the Americas before 13,000 BC. As a result, we must agree with Guidon that man probably traveled from Africa to settle prehistoric America.

The archaeological evidence indicates that PaleoAmericans settled South America before North America, and that these Americans did not belong to the Clovis culture. Africa is the most likely origin of the PaleoAmericans, because the Ice sheet along the Pacific shoreline of North America, Siberia and Alaska, would have made the sea route from Asia or Europe unviable 65,000 years ago. The Dufuna boat dating back to 8,000 BC, shows that Africans had boats at this early date. The culture associated with the Dufuna boat dates back to 20,000 years ago.

Dugout canoes hewn from wood at Lake Malawi, East African Rift system.

Dugout canoes hewn from wood at Lake Malawi, East African Rift system. (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Top Image: Rock paintings at Pedra Furada, Brazil (CC BY-SA 4.0)

By Clyde Winters


Bray, Warwick. 1988. "The Paleoindian debate". Nature 332, (10 March), p.107.

Bryan, A. L. 1987. "Points of Order". Natural History, pp.7-11.

Guidon, N. and Delibrias, G. 1986. “Carbon-14 dates point to man in the Americas 32,000 years ago.” Nature 321:769-771.

Guidon, N., and B. Arnaud. 1991. “The chronology of the New World: Two faces of one reality.” World Arch. 23(2):167-178.

Guidon, N., et al.1996.  "Nature and Age of the Deposits in Pedra Furada, Brazil: Reply to Meltzer, Adovasio & Dillehay," Antiquity, 70:408.

Haynes,Jr., C.V. 1988. "Geofacts and Fanny". Natural History,(February)pp.4-12.

Kumar, Mohi. 2014. DNA From 12,000-Year-Old Skeleton Helps Answer the Question: Who Were the First Americans? [Online] Retrieved  16 August 2016 at :

Martin, P. S. and R.G.Klein (eds.), Quarternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, (Tucson:University of Arizona Press,1989) p.111.

Neves, W. A. and Pucciarelli, H. M. 1989. Extra-continental biological relationships of early South American human remains: a multivariate analysis. Cieˆncia e Cultura, 41: 566–75

Neves, W. A. and Pucciarelli, H. M. 1990. The origins of the first Americans: an analysis based onthe cranial morphology of early South American human remains. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 81: 247.

Neves, W. A. and Pucciarelli, H. M. 1991. Morphological affinities of the first Americans: an exploratory analysis based on early South American human remains. Journal of Human Evolution, 21: 261–73.

Neves, W. A. and Meyer, D. 1993. The contribution of the morphology of early South and Northamerican skeletal remains to the understanding of the peopling of the Americas. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 16 (Suppl): 150–1.

Neves, W. A., Powell, J. F., Prous, A. and Ozolins, E. G. 1998. Lapa Vermelha IV Hominid 1: morphologial affinities or the earliest known American. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 26(Suppl): 169.

Neves, W. A., Powell, J. F. and Ozolins, E. G. 1999a. Extra-continental morphological affinities of Palli Aike, southern Chile. Intercieˆncia, 24: 258–63.

Neves, W. A., Powell, J. F. and Ozolins, E. G. 1999b. Modern human origins as seen from the peripheries. Journal of Human Evolution, 37: 129–33.

Neves W.A . and Pucciarelli H.M. 1991. "Morphological Affinities of the First Americans: an exploratory analysis based on early South American human remains". Journal of Human Evolution 21:261-273. 

Neves W.A ., Powell J.F. and Ozolins E.G. 1999. "Extra-continental morphological affinities of Lapa Vermelha IV Hominid 1: A multivariate analysis with progressive numbers of variables. Homo 50:263-268

Neves W.A ., Powell J.F. and Ozolins E.G. 1999. "Extra-continental morphological affinities of Palli-Aike, Southern Chile". Interciencia 24:258-263. [Online] Available at: 

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I am not sure that the m1 (Mt) markers in Tanzania hold up, since the most recent I have read suggests a back migration. Almost ALL African MtDNA is haplotype L NOT M or N.

Now of course IF (and it is a bloody big IF) people stop thinking "out of africa" and start thinking "out of SEA or even Melanesia, you just MIGHT be able show show a link between paleo Indians, Melanesian Australoid and Africans. In these case the "eve Mit DNA is l3 or M or N (any one of these would work) rather than L0 which is the current accepted assumption.

In this case you would be looking at some very early split somewhere along the Pacific Rim that eventually sent the L descendants towards Africa and the Ms towards Australia and India and Melanesia may be also towards South America. This would explain any language and place name similarities and also the possibility that the Del Fuegans used click languages like the San.

The N lineage and its descendants (R and B) seem to be just a little younger than the Ms and if you look at the current distributions seemed to have reached the Americas from the traditional Northern route (ie via B).

To throw in something else that has been bugging me for years - well before modern haplotype analysis is the ABSENCE of A and B type bloods in the Americas and in Tasmania and of B in Australia. I do not really buy the founder effect ideas because they would need to happen TWICE which is unlikely and the whole "pathogen" explanation just does not gel with me - sure if there were low frequencies etc but absence altogether!!!.

So a very early split from an original proto human population of ABO mixture into two populations - first an AO population (eg San and Andaman Islanders and Australians) and then (probably quite soon afterwards) a further split into an O only population that went on to Tasmania and then (I have no idea HOW) reached South America.

Adding in the mtDNA you would have had in the dim dark past the following populations, possibly all existing at the same time, separated by distance or possibly water:

G1. Somewhere in SEA a group of "originals" who would probably be dark skinned, Negrito and Melanesian in appearance with mixed ABO and also mixed MN blood groups and principal Mt DNA M (or L3). They may well have carried BOTH the blood groups C and c and probably the remnant Du group

G2 Moving TOWARDS the South - Australia and Indonesia and India you have the AO group who are also Mt group M. In appearance they would be similar to group 1. They lose the Du

G2.1 The closest living relations could be the some Australians ie those with mt DNA M and derivatives

G2.2 On the opposite edge of the distribution moving towards South India you would have a group like the Andamanese

G3. At the outer edge of one of these this AO groups (probably G2.1) you have a further split into an O mono type. This group reaches Tasmania and possibly South America. They would be Mt M with various descendant subtypes. It would be expected that they would have a negrito/australoid appearance

G4 Meanwhile some our proto group G1 move towards Africa somewhere collecting the Mt L haplotypes and also LOSING the C blood group. They also lose the N bloodgroup. The closest living descendants are possibly some of the Pygmy tribes.

G5 at about the same time our prop group splits into a Melanesian group who lose the c and M blood groups but retain ABO blood and N and C blood. They would be Mt M

G6 The foremothers of the San are a little confusing because they share the Mt L of group 4 and blood groups a little more typical of the Andamanese. With rather lighter skin than both Melanesians and Pygmies it seems possible they originated somewhere in colder climates.

Anyway this is a very different perspective that maybe helps think about the possible paleo Indians

Clyde Winters's picture

Your comments are very interesting but the Melanesians only came to Oceania during the Lapita migrations from East Asia. In addition, the Fijians claim they came from Africa. This is supported by the presence of African placenames in Oceania , cognate languages and DNA. See:

There are genetic markers which point to a relationship between the Fijians and Africans. For example, haplogroup V appears in New Guinea, while haplogroup IV has been found only in New Guinea, Near Oceania and Northwestern most Micronesia . According to Cordaux et al in figure 2, Clusters X1 and X are found in Africa and the Pacific . In addition , Africans and Asians share the T-->C transition at nt position 16189 and the D-loop sequence of nts 15975 to 00048 .
Africans and Fijians share the Y-Chromosome K-M9.The K haplogroup is found in Africa and Oceania.
The common Fijian Y-chromosome is M-M4; it exist as derived subgroup M-P34 of Melanesians. Both of these genes are found among Africans as noted by Wood et al, in Figure 2 .
The mtDNA M clade is the best genetic marker of the connection between Africans and Melanesians. The M1 haplogroup is a member of the M macrohaplogroup. M1 is a sister haplogroup to Haplogroup D, one of the major Asian subgroups in Macrohaplogroup M.
The M, N, and R macrohaplogroups are found throughout East and South and Southeast Asia, the Andaman Islands and Africa .
Haplotypes with HVSI transitions defining 16129-16223-16249-16278-16311-16362; and 16129-16223-16234-16249-16211-16362 have been found in Thailand and among the Han Chinese , these haplotypes were originally thought to be members of Haplogroup M1. However, on the basis of currently available FGS sequences, carriers of these markers have been found to be in the D4a branch of Haplogroup D , the most widespread branch of M1 in East Asia . The transitions 16129,16189,16249 and 16311 are known to be recurrent in various branches of Haplogroup M, especially M1 and D4.
Gonder et al for example, noted that the mtDNAs of Tanzanians belonging to haplogroup M1 cluster with peoples from Oceania .

in addition, there is evidence from Arabian M clades that support the migration of Melanesians from Africa to Melanesia .

Hey I only just found this site but there are some truly WRONG ideas being posted..
Melanesians and Australoids are in no way negro despite sharing some morphological features. Indeed these two groups of humans are THE MOST distantly related (at least that was what Cazalli Sfporza found. The haplotype date supports this. It may well be that the two groups shared a common ancestor way back but they are NOT the same.

This matters because if there are traces of a paleo indicans with Melanesian characteristics, they probably DID NOT come from Africa as these groups are decidedly of NON AFRICAN origin ie they formed any place BUT Africa.

What we KNOW is that Australoid peoples were all around the South Pacific in the West, and probably well extended into China and Japan.

So HOW did they reach the Americas.

1. If they cam via the Siberian route it must have been well before the most recent ice age

2. Could they have island hopped across the North Pacific Possible but very cold

3. Could they have come across the Atlantic as the remnant of the most ancient residents ie at the time of the Neanderthal or earlier (but still difficult to reconcile with Melanesian genetic affinity

4. Could they have island hopped sailed or drifted across the South Pacific - the Kontiki route but in reverse. possible especially if thee were very low water levels and more islands about.. I have been trying to get a handle on the undersea geology to see if possible

5. Now this is really out of the box BUT what if they island/ice sheet hopped from AUSTRALIA to South South America via the Arctic. The last bit is very possible as the distance between the Antarctic and the Island of Del Fuego is not very long and accidents etc could easily have ensue the occasional crossing. However getting from Tasmania to the Antarctic is bloody hard even though it was warmer and closer than at present.

First european is the Cromagnon, and the black africans are a modern postglacial deserts formed phenotypes.

Clyde Winters's picture

There is no evidence that all Native Americans came from Siberia. In A genomic view of the peopling of the Americas, by Pontus Skoglund, and David Reich.    The authors observed that: “Recently, we carried out a stringent test of the null hypothesis of a single founding population of Central and South Americans using genome-wide data from diverse Native Americans [36""]. We detected a statistically clear signal linking Native Americans in the Amazonian region of Brazil to present-day Australo-Melanesians and Andaman Islanders (‘Australasians’). Specifically, we found that Australasians share significantly more genetic variants with some Amazonian populations — including ones speaking Tupi languages — than they do with other Native Americans. We called this putative ancient Native American lineage ‘Population Y’ after Ypykue´ra, which means ‘ancestor’ in the Tupi language family. To learn more about the Population Y ancestry present in the Americas, we carried out a series of statistical modeling analyses. We found that the patterns of genomic variation of present-day Amazonians could be explained by as little as 2% admixture from an Australasian-related population, that would thus have penetrated deep inside the Americas without mixing with the main ancestral lineage of present-day Native Americans. Alternatively, the patterns could be explained by a larger proportion of ancestry (2–85%) from a population that existed in a substructured Northeast Asia, and was similar to the main lineage that gave rise to other Native Americans while retaining more Australasian affinity.”


Clyde Winters's picture

Clyde Winters

Dr. Clyde Winters is an Educator , Anthropologist and Linguist. He has taught Education and Linguistics at Saint Xavier University -Chicago. Dr. Winters is the author of numerous articles on anthropology, archeogenetics and linguistics. His articles have appeared in the Journal... Read More

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