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Desert Diary
Culture/Man Enters


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During the last ice age, so much water was tied up in ice on land that the sea level fell. Indeed, it fell so far that shallow seas became dry land. It's long been common acceptance that man entered North America from Siberia over the land bridge connecting Siberia to Alaska near the end of the ice age. Now, though, new questions have arisen. No one doubts that man came into the New World from the Old, for the evidence makes it clear that man's a late comer to the Americas. But the classical explanation no longer fits as well as it once did.

A site in southern Chile some 12,500 radiocarbon years old disturbs the old timing—too early for a site that far south! An earlier marine coastal route is one alternative. If man followed the shoreline from Asia to North America, hopping from one ice-free patch to the next, man to our interior region would be a late comer. Or, some suggest, ice hopping along the frozen margin of the North Atlantic—Europe to North America.
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Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.