“I think our dates are the oldest evidence of man in the New World which is directly based on artifacts,” said Dr. William Irving, professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto.
Professor Irving and Richard Harrington, a fossil scientist from the National Museum of Natural Science here, report in the magazine on three artifacts which radioactive carbon dating place between 25,000 and 32,000 years old.
Until 1926, no evidence of man in the New World could be traced back more than 4,000 years ago. Since then, a series of discoveries have pushed the date of man’s arrival from the Old World as far back as 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.
But the nearly 400 fossil specimens collected at Old Crow from 1966 onwards suggest that man lived there between 25,000 and 32,000 years ago, using sharp stone tools to shape animal bones.
These early hunters probably depended heavily on the woolly mammoth and caribou, preparing the caribou skins for clothing and even shelter.
The key exhibit in this archeological reconstruction was a dark, eight-inch long caribou tibia, which had been carved into a fleshing tool for cleaning animal skins.
One “end of the bone has been chopped or broken and whittled to spatulate form and a regular series of notches have been carved into the…edge to give it a row of…teeth,” the scientists write. The fleshing tool provides strong evidence that New World man was capable of sophisticated bone-working technology well before the 15,000 years ago date suggested by one current theory. Professor Irving said that the 25,000-32,000 dates “put man in a position to move south in the Americas at a fairly early time.”
Recent excavations suggest the Old Crow inhabitants might have migrated from eastern Siberia on a land bridge across the Bering Strait. Other archeologists have uncovered striking evidence that man had set elements in Peru at least 20,000 years ago-16 centuries before the Aztecs and Incas.
Although most archeological sites in the Americas are younger than 12,000 years, several Canadian scientists have advocated theories than man’s history reached back 30,000 to 50,000 years. Anthropologist Alan Bryan of the University of Alberta in Edmonton and Anthropologist Carl Borden from the University of British Columbia are among this group. The Old Crow artifacts provide another piece of hard evidence to support their theories.