Sea floor off Charlottes may explain how people came to the Americas

From the Vancouver Sun: Sea floor off Charlottes may explain how people came to the Americas.

In a Canadian archeological project that could revolutionize understanding of when and how humans first reached the New World, federal researchers in B.C. have begun probing an underwater site off the Queen Charlotte Islands for traces of a possible prehistoric camp on the shores of an ancient lake long since submerged by the Pacific Ocean.

The landmark investigation, led by Parks Canada scientist Daryl Fedje, is seeking evidence to support a contentious new theory about the peopling of the Americas that is gradually gaining support in scholarly circles. It holds that ancient Asian seafarers, drawn on by food-rich kelp beds ringing the Pacific coasts of present-day Russia, Alaska and British Columbia, began populating this hemisphere thousands of years before the migration of Siberian big-game hunters — who are known to have travelled across the dried up Bering Strait and down an ice-free corridor east of the Rockies as the last glaciers began retreating about 13,000 years ago.

The earlier maritime migrants are thought to have plied the coastal waters of the North Pacific in sealskin boats, moving in small groups.

Over many generations, they migrated from their traditional homelands in the Japanese islands or elsewhere along Asia’s eastern seaboard.

Interest in the theory — which is profiled in the latest edition of New Scientist magazine by Canadian science writer Heather Pringle — has been stoked by recent DNA studies [continue]