The ancient people who have long been thought to be the first humans to colonise North America were actually johnny-come-latelies, according to scientists who have comprehesively analysed the ancient fossilised poo of their predecessor Americans.
The new revelations come to us courtesy of Copenhagen university, where some of the investigating boffins are based. The scientists say that their results demonstrate conclusively their somewhat controversial thesis: that the "Clovis" culture dating from around 13,000 years ago - which has long been thought to be the earliest human society in the Americas - was actually preceded by human habitation at the Paisley caves in Oregon.
"When we published the first DNA results from the Paisley Caves four years ago it caused an outcry," explains Dr Paula Campos, one of the prehistoric poo experts.
"Many archaeologists felt that our results must be wrong. They considered it an established fact that Clovis were the first Americans. People would come up with any number of alternative explanations to our data in order to repudiate our interpretation. Today we demonstrate that our conclusions were right."
The so-called "Clovis First" theory had until 2008 been accepted as unquestioned truth among archaeologists, who considered that the Clovis people - so called from 13,000 year old archaeological finds near the village of Clovis in New Mexico - were the true native Americans. When the still more ancient 14,000-year-old excrement was found at the Paisley caves, it was pointed out by disgruntled boffins that no stone tools or other evidence of the type seen at Clovis had been found, and that the DNA poo evidence could have been erroneous.
Dr Dennis Jenkins of Copenhagen uni was having none of that, however, and he continued to poke about in the caves. Now he and his team are back, this time packing stone artifacts including "Western stemmed" stone projectiles and new, more comprehensive DNA dating.
According to a Copenhagen uni statement:
The new study refutes every one of the critics’ arguments and uses overwhelming archaeological, stratigraphic, DNA and radiocarbon evidence to conclusively state that humans — and ones totally unrelated to Clovis peoples — were present at Paisley Caves over a millennium before Clovis.
"During our excavations in the Paisley Caves we’ve found a completely different type of dart points," enthuses Jenkins.
"These new points are of a completely different construction from those found in the Clovis culture. As our radiocarbon dating shows, the new finds are as old, or possibly older than the Clovis finds, this proves that the Clovis culture cannot have been the 'Mother technology' for all other technologies in America. Our results show, that America was colonized by multiple cultures at the same time. And some perhaps even earlier than Clovis."
"Humans were present in North America at least one thousand years before Clovis and these earlier peoples probably had no technological or genetic similarity to the iconic Clovis Culture," adds the prof's colleague Thomas Stafford. "The Clovis First debate has ended. The theory is now dead and buried."
So there. ®