[pey-lee-oh-in-dee-uhn; especially Brit. pal-ee‐]
Paleo-Indians or Paleo-Americans were the ancient peoples of the Americas who were present at the end of the last Ice Age. The prefix "paleo" comes from the Greek adjective palaios (παλαιός) "old", and refers to the Upper Paleolithic time period. The best known of these peoples were part of the Clovis culture. However, credible evidence of pre-Clovis Paleo-Indian cultures do not yet exist. Although many claims have been made of the existence of Pre-Clovis Paleo Indians in the Americas, none have as of yet been verified.

Paleo-Americans are believed to be the first people to have inhabited a large number of areas in the Americas, though they didn't inhabit the continent as a whole. The current prevailing theory postulates that Paleo-Indians entered the Americas from Asia via a land bridge (Beringia) connecting eastern Siberia with present-day Alaska when sea levels were significantly lower because of a widespread glaciation period ending about 10,000 years ago. However, evidence suggestive of even earlier human occupation in South America at sites like Monte Verde in Chile (35,000 years), or in North America at Topper (50,000 years ago), have generated an alternative theory that Paleo-Indians, or at least some groups of them, may have come from the Pacific Islands or mainland Asia by watercraft.

Paleo-Americans are believed to have been nomadic hunter-gatherers (They hunted a type of huge sloth, a type of bison, various species of mammoths and camels) whose following of animal migrations dictated where they camped. As the glaciers that covered much of North America receded in the warming climate following the most recent glacial maximum, tundra foliage was the main plant growth. Paleo-Indians living in the tundra hunted both large mammals like prehistoric bear, bison, and caribou, as well as smaller mammals like hare and arctic fox. Paleo-Indians also lived in the taiga, forested steppe, semi-arid temperate woodlands, and other ecozones. Paleo-Americans are known to have hunted with both fluted stone-pointed wooden lancing spears and shorter spears thrown using an atlatl; they probably also foraged for edible plants.

Paleo-Americans likely traveled in small groups of approximately 20 or 50 members of an extended family. Archaeological evidence of particular kinds of fluted stone have been uncovered, suggesting trade occurred between such groups.

Archaic stage inhabitants of the Americas are believed to be direct descendants of Paleo-Americans.

Recent research

An article in the American Journal of Human Genetics states "Here we show, by using 86 complete mitochondrial genomes, that all Native American haplogroups, including haplogroup X, were part of a single founding population, thereby refuting multiple-migration models.

See also



  • Haynes, Gary (2002). The Early Settlement of North America: the Clovis Era. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52463-6.
  • Mann, Charles C. (2005). 1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Knopf. ISBN-10: 140004006X.

External links

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