Linguistic Anthropologists using the latest technology are trying to solve an “ancient mystery” of how and when early humans inhabited the New World. Their latest finds suggest complex patterns of contact and migration among the first people who settled in the Americas. Ahhh…….life is not so simple and this research proves that once again.
The research is being led by the University of Virginia. Researchers say that ecological, genetic, and archaeological data support the hypothesis of human habitation in Beringia during the last Ice Age using new linguistic methods to compare similarities and differences between languages.
This new research is analyzing more than 100 linguistic features and findings indicate there were more complex patterns of contact and migration among the early people of the Americas. They note that the diversity of language in the Americas is like no other continent on the planet with 8 times more isolates than found on any other continent. Isolates are languages that have no demonstrable connection to any other language with which it can be classed into a family.
In North America there are 26 isolates while in South America there are 55. These isolates are primarily found along the western edges of North and South America. Compare this to just 1 isolate found in Europe, 8 found in Africa, and 9 in Asia and you begin to see the significance of this study! The isolates found in North and South America far outweigh those found in Europe, Asia, and Africa combined!!
Scientists have been rethinking the landbridge theory that is theorized to have existed (more than once) between Siberia and Alaska. It may NOT have just been a bridge! In fact, several scientists are coming to the opinion that it was far more than just a bridge, perhaps some kind of landmass. Humans are known to have lived in this area for up to 15K years and they are known to have migrated down into North America and some migrations were in reverse, meaning back into Asia. Continue Reading