Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Kelp Highway' May Have Helped Peopling Of The Americas

Date:
February 21, 2006
Source:
University of Oregon
Summary:
If humans migrated from Asia to the Americas along Pacific Rim coastlines near the end of the Pleistocene era, kelp forests may have aided their journey, according to research presented today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting.

If humans migrated from Asia to the Americas along Pacific Rim coastlines near the end of the Pleistocene era, kelp forests may have aided their journey, according to research presented today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting.

Until recently, the "coastal migration theory" was not accorded much importance by most scholars. However, new discoveries have moved it to the forefront of debate on the origins of the First Americans. It is now known that seafaring peoples living in the Ryuku Islands and Japan near the height of the last glacial period (about 35,000 to 15,000 years ago) adapted to cold waters comparable to those found today in the Gulf of Alaska. From Japan, they may have migrated northward through the Kurile Islands, to the southern coast of Beringia (ancient land bridge between what is now Siberia and Alaska), and into the Americas.

"The coastal migration theory has yet to be proven with hard evidence, but we have been finding earlier and more widespread evidence for coastal settlement around the Pacific Rim," said Jon Erlandson, professor of anthropology and director of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon and the study's lead researcher. "The fact that productive kelp forests are found adjacent to some of the earliest coastal archaeological sites in the Americas supports the idea that such forests may have facilitated human coastal migrations around the Pacific Rim near the end of the last glacial period. In essence, they may have acted as a sort of kelp highway."

Kelp forests are some of the world's richest ecosystems. They are found from Japan to Baja California and to South America's west coast. They would have provided a similar assortment of food resources--including shellfish, fish, sea mammals, and seabirds--along thousands of miles of the North Pacific coast, and also reduced wave energy for people in boats. These people also would have had access to a variety of land resources. In contrast, people migrating through the interior would have had fewer options and would have had to pass through much more varied landscapes, including tundra, boreal and tropical forests, and deserts.

"This study is a unique example of collaboration between coastal archaeologists and marine biologists" Erlandson said. "I've worked on many early sites near kelp forests from Alaska to California, but I never realized similar habitats were present around much of the Pacific Rim. Combining our very different perspectives provided an opportunity to reach insights that none of us would have attained alone."

The "kelp highway hypothesis" first crystallized among an interdisciplinary group working at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. The study's other researchers include: Michael Graham of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories; Bruce Bourque of Bates College; Debbie Corbett of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska; James Estes of the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California-Santa Cruz; and, Robert Steneck of the University of Maine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oregon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Oregon. "'Kelp Highway' May Have Helped Peopling Of The Americas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060221085837.htm>.
University of Oregon. (2006, February 21). 'Kelp Highway' May Have Helped Peopling Of The Americas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060221085837.htm
University of Oregon. "'Kelp Highway' May Have Helped Peopling Of The Americas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060221085837.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 13, 2014) — Roars of excitement as a proud lioness shows off her four cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins