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A new study is challenging long-held truths about how humans populated the American continent; members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will likely find the new theory familiar.
The study, published in the journal Nature, refutes the theory that humans first populated North America by way of a land bridge that once connected Siberia to Alaska. The studies findings assert the land bridge would not have been “biologically viable” for humans to cross until hundreds of years after humans were known to arrive. Basically, the land bridge did not have the necessities of life to sustain anyone trying to travel across it during the time period humans first appeared on the continent.
The study was headed by Danish evolutional geneticist Eske Willerslsev and his team. “The first people entering what is now the US, Central and South America must have taken a different route to the one that has long been claimed,” Willerslsev reports. What is that route? The team of scientists on the study now believe humans must have arrived in the Americas by sea, migrating along the Pacific Coast. The team does not know exactly how that was possible.
“The route taken by first humans coming to America is still unknown, but much evidence points to the Pacific coast,” says study co-author Mikkel Winther Pedersen, a Ph.D. student at the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen. “If this is the case, we could be looking at humans who adapted to survive by exploiting the marine resources, whether by boat or from sea-ice.”
For Latter-day Saints, these findings are interesting; we believe an ancient group of people from the Holy Land travelled to the Americas by boat. You can read more about the study here at a report of the study from the University of Cambridge.