Study: Pacific coast was route for colonizing the Americas

First Americans
This February 2012 provided by researcher Mikkel Winther Pedersen shows a southward view down Cline River in Alberta, Canada, where retreating ice sheets created an ice-free corridor more than 13,000 years ago. This is part of the ice-free corridor which was ruled out for migration by the first people to colonize the Americas, since no evidence of plants or animals were found along this route until about 12,600 years ago. Studies suggest that people had reached South America by at least 14,700 years ago. So in recent years, many scientists have concluded that the first southward migrants traveled along the Pacific coast instead, either in boats or on land. (Mikkel Winther Pedersen via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Researchers have found new evidence that the first Americans migrated south from Alaska via the Pacific coast, rather than a route hundreds of miles inland along the Rocky Mountains.

The colonization of the Americas began after people arrived from Siberia, crossing an ancient land bridge into Alaska. Huge ice sheets largely blocked the way south. But a gap in western Canada was long thought to provide an ice-free corridor for migration into the continent.

But other research suggested that pathway appeared too late to account for early settlements documented in the Americas. That left the Pacific coast route as an appealing alternative.

The new work found the corridor didn’t provide the plants and animals people would need for migration until much later.

Results were released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

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