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Peopling the New World

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There are two widely accepted models for how the New World came to be populated. One argues that an overland route was the primary route used to enter the New World and the other that it was more of a maritime coastal route into the New World. For many years the overland route has been the most widely accepted. It suggests that at the last glacial maximum there was a land mass connecting Siberia to the New World called Beringia. People were able to cross this land mass while following megafauna that was their primary source of subsistance. After entering the New World they eventually made their way into what is now Canada. As time passed and global temperatures continued to warm, an ice free corridor began to form between the Laurentide Ice Sheet and Cordilleran Ice Sheet. Human populations would then have been able to use this ice free corridor in order to move further south into the New World. Archaeological sites such as Bluefish Caves in Canada and a series of Clovis Complex sites in the United States date to the time when this Ice Free Corridor would have existed. Contrasting this model is that claims that the first inhabitants came along the coast via primitive maritime technologies. This model has gained prominence after the discovery of a site at Monte Verde Chile. This site dates to around 15,000 years ago, which is much older than any other mainland site considering how far south it is. In addition, the sites of On Your Knees Cave and Quebrada Jacuay show unambiguous evidence for a maritime lifestyle and date to roughly the same period. At these sites there are fish bones, hooks, harpoons, nets, and canoes.