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

Did Paleoamericans Reach South America First?


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


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Paleo Indians were most certainly not from Africa, Australia or the So. Pacific. Genetic studies have shown pretty conclusively that all Native Americans share common ancestry with the Chukchi and related north east Asian peoples. There is absolutely no evidence of African, Australian or Pacific Islander genetics in the Native American genome anywhere except along the Peruvian coast where there seems to have been some admixture with the people of Rapa Nui. Now, I'm not saying that the basic concept that the Americas were settled from the south up is wrong. I personally feel that the first Paleo Indians were people who hunted and fished along the sea ice fields that fringed southern Baringia. This would have been an amazingly rich environment and there's little doubt in my mind that these people would have followed the ice from the coast of NE Asia eastward and southward to it's end. These were not stupid or timid people nor were they without curiosity. One can easily imagine them being pushed south by storms or simple curiosity to the end of the ice sheet and spending the winter in So California or N Mexico before heading back in the spring. Eventually some might decide to stay or something as simple as the loss of their boat may have forced them to stay. From there it would be pretty easy to expand both north and south and fill the continent in a relatively short time. No Africans, Europeans, Australians or Pacific Islanders needed.

Clyde Winters's picture

Neves etc., make it clear that the paleoamericans were phenotypically Melanesian, African or Australian.The Wiki page is quite deceptive. It implies that Botocudos proves that Native Americans came from Siberia and therefore they were not phenotypically African or Melanesian.

The problem with this analogy is that the Botocudos are classified as Melanesian in origin. As a result, when Neves says the Botocudos are related to paleoamerican it was based on the fact that phenotypically they were African or Melanesian.South Brazilian Native Americans came from Melanesia. This is especially true for the Botocudos.

The Botocudos are descendants of Meleanesians and Melanesians are phenotypically Negroes. See: A.S. Malaspinas et al, wrote : “Understanding the peopling of the Americas remains an important and challenging question. Here, we present (14)C dates, and morphological, isotopic and genomic sequence data from two human skulls from the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, part of one of the indigenous groups known as 'Botocudos'. We find that their genomic ancestry is Polynesian, with no detectable Native American component. Radiocarbon analysis of the skulls shows that the individuals had died prior to the beginning of the 19th century. Our findings could either represent genomic evidence of Polynesians reaching South America during their Pacific expansion, or European-mediated transport”.

The Botocudo were a Native American tribe of Brazil. They were also called Aimoré (Aymore, Aimboré) .The name Botocudo comes from the Portuguese term: botoque, a plug. This was an allusion to the wooden disks or tembetás worn in their lips and ears of people who belonged to these tribes

Because craniometrically you can not tell the difference between Africans and Melanesians, we need to use archaeology to determine if it was possible for Melanesians to reach PaleoAmerica. The archaeology does not support a relationship between  Melenesians and Paleo-Americans. I and Dr. W.J. Page, have illustrated that the toponymic, archaeological, craniometric and pan-African genomic evidence indicate that the Melanesians probably came to Oceania from Africa and Southeast (SE) Asia 4kya. They only arrived in the Pacific as a result, of the Lapita cultural expansion from Southeast Asia into the Pacific. Consequently, even though the Botocudos may be related to Melanesians, the Melanesians were not in America in PaleoAmerican times. Don’t forget, that even Malaspinas et al, speculated that the Melanesians may have been transported to Brazil by the Portuguese.
 A.S. Malaspinas et al,(2014). Two ancient human genomes reveal Polynesian ancestry among the indigenous Botocudos of Brazil. Curr Biol. 2014 Nov 3;24(21):R1035-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.078. Epub 2014 Oct 23.
W. J. Page , (1988). The Lakota Hypothesis:on the Origin of Melanesian People of the Fijian Islands. West African Journal of Archaeology 18 31-72.
Clyde Winters,(2014). AFRICAN AND DRAVIDIAN ORIGINS OF THE MELANESIANS, Indian Journal of Fundamental and Applied Life Sciences , Vol. 4 (3) July-September, pp. 694-704/Winter, at AFRICAN AND DRAVIDIAN ORIGINS OF THE MELANESIANS


"Using craniometric quantitative analysis and multivariate methods, Dr. Neves determined that Paleo Americans were either Australian, African or Melanesians." Not likely to have been African. There was news in 2015 that the DNA of some native Amazonians (native Brazilians) shows significant similarity to indigenous inhabitants of Australia and Melanesia.

Why is it that we always assume Paleo-Americans were all Hydrophobic, didn’t eat Fish, and not intelligent enough to navigate on or along the Ice Sheets by Water? I am sure there were plenty of Calories in the Sea and on the Ice Sheets to sustain a Migration along the Ice Sheets during several different cycles throughout history. If this were not the case then how in the world could the Inuit have survived the Arctic as they have? We tend to forget that there were two Ice Sheets during the previous Glacials. The one in the Southern Hemisphere over Antarctica grows even larger than the Ice Sheet in the Arctic and very well could have connected Africa with South America and maybe even Australia several different times in the past. I think there were two different migrations along both the Northern and Southern Ice Sheets around the same time. South America was populated from the South in Terra del Fuego, Patagonia and Pampas first then to the North later.


In fact, the Black Death did affect Africa. Egypt in particular. It was recently established that Nile Rat fleas are most likely to have been the original host of plague bacteria and Y. pestis epidemics actually began to show up in Egypt around 1500 BCE (Ebers Papyrus), much earlier that originally thought. While the bug did great damage locally, it did not reach the pandemic event stage due to the smaller, more disbursed population. Seems the Black Death requires dense population centers to become pneumonic and begin to burn through hosts.


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