Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 7:00 PM: Dr. John Hoffecker, University of Colorado, Boulder

The Peopling of the Americas in Global Perspective

Abstract

The peopling of the Americas was part of the wider global dispersal of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens), who expanded out of Africa about 75,000–60,000 years ago, occupying Australia/New Guinea no later than 50,000 years ago and invading northern Eurasia at roughly the same time.  The global dispersal of Homo sapiens is being reconstructed through a synthesis of skeletal, genetic (including ancient DNA), and archaeological data.  Adaptation to new environments—some of which had never been inhabited previously by Homo—was effected by design of complex technologies, including navigable watercraft, insulated clothing, and mechanical devices (probably including automata such as traps, snares, and weirs for harvesting small vertebrates).  People occupied Beringia and the Arctic no later than 32,000 years ago and possibly as early as ~45,000 years ago, but apparently were unable to expand into the Americas due to coalescence of ice sheets in northern North America until ~15,000 years ago.  During the Last Glacial Maximum (~28,000–16,000 years ago), human populations in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia abandoned the coldest and/or driest areas and retreated to various refugia.  The ancestral Native American population may have occupied parts of Beringia during this period (‘Beringian Standstill Hypothesis’), but this has yet to be confirmed with skeletal remains, ancient DNA, and/or archaeological data.  In any case, a relatively large and diverse population migrated southward from Beringia along the Pacific coast after 15,000 years ago, rapidly dispersing throughout unglaciated North and South America by 13,000 years ago (an interior migration route was not available until after 13,000 years ago).  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 7:00 PM: Dr. John Hoffecker, University of Colorado, Boulder

The Peopling of the Americas in Global Perspective

Abstract

The peopling of the Americas was part of the wider global dispersal of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens), who expanded out of Africa about 75,000–60,000 years ago, occupying Australia/New Guinea no later than 50,000 years ago and invading northern Eurasia at roughly the same time.  The global dispersal of Homo sapiens is being reconstructed through a synthesis of skeletal, genetic (including ancient DNA), and archaeological data.  Adaptation to new environments—some of which had never been inhabited previously by Homo—was effected by design of complex technologies, including navigable watercraft, insulated clothing, and mechanical devices (probably including automata such as traps, snares, and weirs for harvesting small vertebrates).  People occupied Beringia and the Arctic no later than 32,000 years ago and possibly as early as ~45,000 years ago, but apparently were unable to expand into the Americas due to coalescence of ice sheets in northern North America until ~15,000 years ago.  During the Last Glacial Maximum (~28,000–16,000 years ago), human populations in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia abandoned the coldest and/or driest areas and retreated to various refugia.  The ancestral Native American population may have occupied parts of Beringia during this period (‘Beringian Standstill Hypothesis’), but this has yet to be confirmed with skeletal remains, ancient DNA, and/or archaeological data.  In any case, a relatively large and diverse population migrated southward from Beringia along the Pacific coast after 15,000 years ago, rapidly dispersing throughout unglaciated North and South America by 13,000 years ago (an interior migration route was not available until after 13,000 years ago).  

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