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Clovis Age Western Stemmed Projectile Points and Human Coprolites at the Paisley Caves

Science  13 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6091, pp. 223-228
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218443

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They Walked Together

Paisley Cave in Oregon provides some of the earliest evidence for humans in North America. Jenkins et al. (p. 223) provide a wide variety of additional evidence of early human occupation of this site, including a series of radiocarbon ages extending back to nearly 12,500 radiocarbon years ago (about 14,500 calendar years ago). The find includes examples of projectile points representative of the Western Stemmed Tradition dating to about 11,100 radiocarbon years ago. The Western Stemmed Tradition has been thought to have evolved after the dominant Clovis technology, but the find suggests that the two cultures overlapped in time.

Abstract

The Paisley Caves in Oregon record the oldest directly dated human remains (DNA) in the Western Hemisphere. More than 100 high-precision radiocarbon dates show that deposits containing artifacts and coprolites ranging in age from 12,450 to 2295 14C years ago are well stratified. Western Stemmed projectile points were recovered in deposits dated to 11,070 to 11,340 14C years ago, a time contemporaneous with or preceding the Clovis technology. There is no evidence of diagnostic Clovis technology at the site. These two distinct technologies were parallel developments, not the product of a unilinear technological evolution. “Blind testing” analysis of coprolites by an independent laboratory confirms the presence of human DNA in specimens of pre-Clovis age. The colonization of the Americas involved multiple technologically divergent, and possibly genetically divergent, founding groups.

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