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Looks Like Humans Arrived in The Americas 25,000 Year Ago

About 30 years ago, three artifacts made from the bones of giant sloths were unearthed in Brazil - and until recently, they hadn’t been studied extensively.

Bone amulet dating to at least 25,000 years ago
One of three bone amulets dating to at least 25,000 years ago | Thaís Pansani

Now, researchers say that the bones are pendants: Humans likely polished them and drilled small holes into them, intending to wear them as prehistoric fashion accessories, according to a study recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Dating to between 25,000 and 27,000 years ago, the bone amulets are the oldest known personal ornaments unearthed in the Americas, reports CNN. They also support the theory that humans inhabited South America far earlier than previously thought.

“We now have good evidence - together with other sites from South and North America - that we have to rethink our ideas about the migration of humans to the Americas,” says study co-author Mirian Liza Alves Forancelli Pacheco, an archaeologist at the Federal University of São Carlos in Brazil.

For many decades, scientists thought that humans reached the Americas via a land bridge between Russia and Alaska around 15,000 years ago. Now, the new study joins a growing body of work that suggests an earlier arrival date.

Recently, researchers announced that the oldest stone tools ever discovered in north America, dated to 18,000 years ago, were unearthed in Oregon at the Rimrock Draw Rockshelter. In 2021, researchers announced that they had found fossilized human footprints in New Mexico that were between 21,000 and 23,000 years old.

The new study of artifacts from Brazil moves that timeline even earlier.

“This is a really significant study because it adds to a growing body of data on the antiquity of human occupation in the Americas,” April Nowell, a Paleolithic archaeologist at the University of Victoria in Canada, tells the Times.

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