Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First Humans To Settle Americas Came From Europe, Not From Asia Over Bering Strait Land-ice Bridge, New Research Suggests

Date:
July 17, 2008
Source:
Valparaiso University
Summary:
New research by a geography professor and his students on the creation of Kankakee Sand Islands of Northwest Indiana is lending support to evidence that the first humans to settle the Americas came from Europe, a discovery that overturns decades of classroom lessons that nomadic tribes from Asia crossed a Bering Strait land-ice bridge.

Research by a Valparaiso University geography professor and his students on the creation of Kankakee Sand Islands of Northwest Indiana is lending support to evidence that the first humans to settle the Americas came from Europe, a discovery that overturns decades of classroom lessons that nomadic tribes from Asia crossed a Bering Strait land-ice bridge. Valparaiso is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Dr. Ron Janke began studying the origins of the Kankakee Sand Islands – a series of hundreds of small, moon-shaped dunes that stretch from the southern tips of Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana into northeastern Illinois – about 12 years ago. Over the past few years, approximately a dozen Valparaiso undergraduates have worked with Dr. Janke to create the first detailed maps of the Kankakee Sand Islands, study their composition and survey wildlife and plants inhabiting the islands.

Based upon the long-held belief that most of the upper Midwest was covered by a vast ice sheet up until about 10,000 years ago, Dr. Janke said he and other scientists surmised the Kankakee Sand Islands were created by sand in meltwater from the receding glacier.

That belief was challenged, however, when he and his students discovered a year and a half ago that the islands were composed of sand that had come from Lake Michigan – something that should have been impossible with the Valparaiso Moraine standing between the lake and the Kankakee Sand Islands.

“That created a lot of problems with what we had previously believed about ice covering this entire area,” Dr. Janke said. “How could it get over the Valparaiso Moraine and be deposited there?”

Figuring out that puzzle required taking core samples from some of the remaining islands and the development of a new test by one of Dr. Janke’s colleagues to determine when sunlight last shone on the sand.

The answer that came back – the Kankakee Sand Islands were born between 14,500 and 15,000 years ago from Lake Michigan sand – was startling.

“We thought the area was completely covered by ice at that time,” Dr. Janke said. “That was a really earth-shattering result for us.”

Yet it also supports research showing that North American Clovis points – a particular type of arrowhead that represents the oldest manmade object on the continent –identically match arrowheads found in Europe and made by humans at approximately the same time. And just within the last year, new research has provided strong evidence that a large meteorite struck the ice sheet covering North American and melted much of the ice shortly before the formation of the Kankakee Sand Islands.

“Our research at Valparaiso supports this other recent research because it indicates there wasn’t a massive ice sheet covering North America that would have allowed tribes to cross over from Asia via a Bering Strait land-ice bridge,” Dr. Janke said.

Dr. Janke’s research on the formation of the Kankakee Sand Islands is continuing this summer, with a focus on determining whether the islands closest to Lake Michigan are younger than the southernmost islands.

At one time, approximately 1,200 of the islands stretched out in a series of curved bands north and and south of the Kankakee River that are separated by a few miles and mirror the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Though many were destroyed by human settlement, about 700 still exist today.

Dr. Janke and his students also have been active in the Woodland Savanna Land Conservancy, an organization working to protect the Kankakee Sand Islands.

Scott Osthus, a recent graduate who worked with Dr. Janke to map the Kankakee Sand Islands and support their preservation, enjoyed being involved in the research effort.

“During my four years at Valparaiso, I saw how interesting and significant the Kankakee Sand Islands landscape is,” Osthus said. “I want to see this area preserved because it is so historically significant.”

Landowners have donated a handful of islands to the trust for preservation, and Dr. Janke is hopeful that others will follow their lead and perhaps eventually build enough support for some of the islands to be incorporated into Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore or their own state park.

“The Kankakee Sand Islands are archaeologically significant, with numerous Native American artifacts and burial grounds still present in the surviving islands, and they provide crucial habitat for native wildlife and plant species,” Dr. Janke said. “I’m hopefully the sand islands can be protected so we can continue to learn about and appreciate them.”


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Valparaiso University. "First Humans To Settle Americas Came From Europe, Not From Asia Over Bering Strait Land-ice Bridge, New Research Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701193203.htm>.
Valparaiso University. (2008, July 17). First Humans To Settle Americas Came From Europe, Not From Asia Over Bering Strait Land-ice Bridge, New Research Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701193203.htm
Valparaiso University. "First Humans To Settle Americas Came From Europe, Not From Asia Over Bering Strait Land-ice Bridge, New Research Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701193203.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

AFP (Sep. 25, 2014) American doctor and photographer Jeff Gusky reveals the underground quarries used by the soldiers of World War One, and the artwork they left behind which illustrates their hopes and fears. Duration: 02:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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