The question on how people came to settle in the Americas has been a long going debate. However, finally it seems that archaeologists will get their answer to this imminent question through a study that has been conducted recently to share new insights of migration patterns in the Americas.
A study has been conducted on some human skulls discovered in Lagoa Santa region of Brazil, which has provided researchers with new information about the complicated history of human migration from the sub-Saharan Africa to the Americas.
The research was carried out jointly by Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, Mark Hubbe and André Strauss. Taubadel works as an associate professor of anthropology at University of Buffalo, Hubbe is an associate professor of Anthropology in Ohio State University and Strauss is a researcher associated with University of Tübingen.
What Does The Study Suggest?
Taubadel, who is also the lead author of the study, states that the analysis led her to believe that people came in multiple waves from Asia, across the Bering Strait. The continued the trail down from North America and settled down in South America.
The findings of the study suggest that Paleoamericans share a last common ancestor with modern South Americans. The findings were based on the analysis conducted on the skulls, which indicated many differences in cranial morphology, which is the study of a skull's shape.
Taubadel further adds that the contemporary data pertaining to migration in South America states that there may have been one wave of human migration and all South American people are descendants of that one wave.
However, Taubadel's research states there may have been no less than two human migratory waves, which came and settled in South America.
"Our data is suggesting that there were at least two, if not more, waves of people entering South America," says Taubadel.
How Did The Researchers Conduct The Study?
The debate of how people came in to the New World and subsequently to South America was fueled due to the contradictory data between morphology and genetics. Taubadel and her team, on the other hand, applied a pioneering method coupled with earlier morphological research to arrive at the conclusions.
Taubadel states that to conduct the study, she and her team adopted and customized the pioneering method from ecology.
However, it may not have been used in the field of anthropology previously. The latest research, rather than finding connections between the morphology of prehistoric skeletons in America and the living people, focuses on the current population as lineage of many possible branches of a tree of relatedness, which is theoretical in nature. It then uses statistics to determine where in the tree their sample best fits.
The study has been published in journal Science Advances on Feb. 22.
Photo: Arild Finne Nybø | Flickr