Problematic science journalism: Native American ancestry and the Solutrean hypothesis

Jennifer Raff —  March 10, 2014 — 99 Comments

This is the second post in a series discussing the recent publication of a 12,500 year old genome from Montana. You can find the first post here.

In the weeks following the publication of the complete genome from a Clovis child, there’s been a lot of press coverage of this study and its possible implications. I want to discuss a bit of the media coverage on this subject, since it raises issues that I think science journalists need to consider more carefully.

First of all, to recap the major findings of the original study (discussed in more detail at the link above):
1. Anzick-1, the 12,500 year old Clovis child whose genome Rasmussen and colleagues sequenced, is very closely related to living and ancient Native Americans.
2. Anzick-1 is more closely related to Siberians than other Eurasian groups.
3. Anzick-1 is more closely related to Central and South American Native American groups than to some North American groups.
4. The results from Anzick-1′s genome fit with the scientific consensus about the peopling of the Americas. This consensus encompasses the results of decades of archaeological, genetic, and paleoclimate research.

Unfortunately, several press reports chose to find controversy in a decidedly non-controversial story by giving undue weight to problematic “alternative” explanations of Native American origins, including the Solutrean hypothesis, and other “European contributions” to Native American ancestry.

140214_NEWSCI_NativeAmeGenome.jpg.CROP.promovar-medium2

Clovis tools from the Anzick site. From Rasmussen et al. 2014.

The Solutrean hypothesis rejects the consensus view by researchers that the ancient Native American Clovis peoples were descended from ancestors who lived in Beringia (who themselves were descended from ancient peoples who lived in Siberia). Instead, its proponents suggest that Clovis peoples are descended from a group of people living in France during the Solutrean period (21,000–15,000 years before present) who migrated across the Atlantic and spread westward across North America. They point to similarities in the stone tool technologies of the Solutrean and Clovis peoples as the main support of this idea. (These “similarities” in tool shape are vigorously rejected by most American archaeologists. I won’t go into a discussion of the details here, because that’s not my field, but if any archaeologists wish to in the comments, please feel free!).

In addition to extravagant claims based upon problematic dating and superficial similarities between tools, a serious problem with the Solutrean hypothesis is that its claim of an ancient European origin for Clovis also predicts that we would find a significant genetic contribution from ancient Europeans into ancient Native American populations. We don’t. All ancient and modern Native Americans possess mitochondrial (maternally-inherited) and Y-chromosome (paternally-inherited) lineages that are descended from those found in peoples of Siberia. They are not found in ancient or modern Europeans. Comparisons of bi-parentally inherited nuclear markers also show a close relationship between all Native Americans and Siberians, not Europeans.

What about haplogroup X?
X is mitochondrial haplogroup that has been cited as evidence of a trans-Atlantic genetic contribution. Some say that it’s evidence of a European migration, and others claim that it’s evidence of an ancient Israelite migration (including the makers of the 2011 documentary “Lost Civilizations of North America”). In the latter case, interviews of archaeologists, historians, and geneticists who work on Native American history and prehistory were edited to make it sound like they supported the idea that haplogroup X was evidence of a pre-Columbian migration of Israelites to the Americas. The scholars responded by writing a series of articles refuting the documentary’s claims in Skeptical Inquirer (“Civilizations Lost and Found: Fabricating History”). Specifically, in this article one of them (my current advisor, Deborah Bolnick) discusses haplogroup X, and I encourage you to go read it. The main points are:

–Haplogroup X is widely distributed throughout Eurasia.

–The particular lineage found in North America, X2a, is specific to Native Americans. It not closely related to X lineages found in Europe or in the Middle East.

–X2a is roughly the same age as other Native American-specific haplogroups (Perego et al. 2009), which fits a model of simultaneous expansion from a single source, and would not likely be the case if it was a much older lineage expanding from Europe.

The interpretation of X2a as evidence of a European genetic contribution is not accepted by geneticists specializing in the study of Native American origins. This was carefully considered as a hypothesis a decade ago by our field, and rejected based on a strong body of evidence. Many of us are mystified that it’s recurring now, given that it was thoroughly debunked so long ago.

Unfortunately, the majority of media reports about the Clovis child’s genome chose to give undue weight to the Solutrean hypothesis and/or his “European connections”. I saw two major types of this reporting. The first, like this Reuters article presented the debate as if there were equal weight to both sides, an example of false equivalency that we see quite often in science coverage of controversial topics (and which I explicitly tried to warn reporters against when I was being interviewed on the subject). The second, like this article in der Spiegal “Montana Boy: Bones Show Ancestral Links to Europe”, emphasized the Anzick-1′s genetic affinities with the recently published genome from the ancient Siberian “Mal’ta child” (Raghavan et al. 2013) as evidence of European ancestry. (They specifically suggest that he may have German ancestry). That they chose to do so is puzzling. Shared ancestry between an ancient Native American and an ancient Siberian individual from the Lake Baikal region is a totally unsurprising result and fits within our consensus models for the peopling of the Americas. But Spiegal’s interpretation of this as a “European link” to Native Americans is inaccurate. The Mal’ta individual shows shared ancestry with a broad distribution of Eurasian populations, not just modern Europeans. Furthermore, the Mal’ta child lived 24,000 years ago, and the genetic landscape of that time period was almost certainly unlike the genetic landscape of today. To say that the Mal’ta child was “European” is to inappropriately apply a modern description of genetic variation backwards to a time when genetic diversity patterns in Europe likely were very different: by that logic, it would be just as accurate to say that modern Europeans are “Siberian”!

Emphasizing the “European connections” to the ancient Native American genome seems at first glance to be a particularly bizarre approach, because the genome showed absolutely nothing new in this context; it fit all expectations for what Clovis genetic diversity should look like if the standard migration model from Siberia to the Americas (via Beringia) was correct. So why did they choose to report it this way?

I think one possibility is that such alternative explanations are very appealing to reporters, as they evoke the concept of “lost civilizations” and add a touch of mystery and drama to what might otherwise be rather dry genomics papers. And it doesn’t help that we geneticists sometimes aren’t careful about thinking through the implications of emphasizing some aspects of our results over others. When we don’t provide appropriate anthropological context for our results, it’s easy to misunderstand them.  What journalists  may not be aware of is that there is a long and unsavory tradition in the United States–going back to the very earliest days of European colonization–of attempts to insert Europeans into Native American history. These attempts have taken many forms, as Feder and colleagues (2011) discuss:

“Even restricting ourselves to just North America, the list of such claims is long—though evidence is short—and includes: Celtic kingdoms in the northeastern United States thousands of years ago (Fell 1976); Coptic Christian settlements in ancient Michigan (based on the so-called Michigan Relics) (Halsey 2009); Roman Jews in Arizona (the Tucson Artifacts) (Burgess 2009); the Lost Tribes of Israel in Ohio (the Newark Holy Stones) (Lepper and Gill 2000); and strange mixtures of various ancient Old World peoples secreted in hideouts in the Grand Canyon in Arizona (“Explorations in Grand Canyon” 1909) and in a cave in southeastern Illinois (Burrows Cave) (Joltes 2003). These claims are predicated essentially on the same notion: ancient Europeans, Africans, or Asians came to the Americas long before Columbus and long—perhaps thousands of years—before the Norse; they settled here and had a huge impact on the native people but then somehow became lost, both to history and to historians.”

This recent round of media attention is merely the latest iteration of a long tradition of emphasizing completely unsubstantiated hypotheses of European contributions to Native American prehistory. The fact is that they run counter to the consensus of over a century of research by hundreds of scholars in multiple disciplines. But that seems to be precisely what makes them attractive–the media is very fond of the story of the lone scientist (or group of scientists) radically challenging the dominant scientific paradigm. But they are doing so with complete unawareness—or worse, disregard—for the ways in which this narrative has been used over the past several centuries as a tool to de-legitimize Native Americans’ connections to their own history.

Some ideas that buck the scientific consensus are brave and new and bold and right, like the idea that Clovis peoples weren’t the first inhabitants of the Americas.

But most are brave and new and bold and wrong, like the notion that skulls with intentional cranial deformation belong to aliens or an unprecedented new hominid species.

In this case, not only does speculating about European genetic or cultural contributions to Native American history run completely counter to existing genetic and archaeological evidence, it buys in to a long and unfortunate tradition of asserting problematic external explanations for Native American achievements. As Feder et al. (2011) put it:

“Native Americans were fully capable of developing complex and sophisticated cultures on their own without help from other societies. The archaeological record of North America clearly shows the indigenous development of the technologies, art, architecture, social systems, subsistence practices, and engineering accomplishments seen in native America. There is no archaeological or biological evidence for the presence of interlopers, and there is no need for their presence in explaining the archaeology of native America.”

Dear journalists, please delve a bit deeper into the history of research into American prehistory before trotting out discredited theories. Mavericks love to tout their iconoclasty as evidence that they’re right, but you know that’s not how science works. Ideas live or die based on whether they’re right or wrong, and the Solutrean hypothesis is simply wrong.

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Jennifer Raff

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Scientist, fighter, reader. In pursuit of the extraordinary.

99 responses to Problematic science journalism: Native American ancestry and the Solutrean hypothesis

  1. 

    It really seems that journalists have their biggest problem with the idea of false equivalency across many different fields. It ties in so nicely with the idea that you have to “present both sides of the story,” when in fact, the search for accuracy requires no such thing. If an idea is junk, it deserves ZERO airtime or print space. I completely understand your frustration; as a dentist, it’s hard enough to get people to understand how simple and well-understood oral health is, without all the crap that’s spread around, including in the media.
    Thanks for the work you do to correct the problems, as well as your actual research.

    • 

      Well said. Thanks for your comment!

      • 

        Re; ” But they are doing so with complete unawareness—or worse, disregard—for the ways in which this narrative has been used over the past several centuries as a tool to de-legitimize Native Americans’ connections to their own history.” So what? That sounds more like a normative statement than non-normative statement..

      • 

        I am thankful you do your research. Our people come from the lineage of Peleg. Before the whites came our people were completely Mongoloid. Native Americans are closely related to Mongolians and Tibetians. The modern white mixtures that are prevalent among Native Americans only came after crisopher columbis. God Bless You for the truth! Peace/Shalom

    • 

      It appears Jennifer treats this blog as her own personal opinion site and doesn’t tolerate dissent as my opinion, posted yesterday, has vanished. Therefore, I’m reposting it in hopes she’ll be more courteous this time. Obviously, she’s not a journalist.

      Sorry, but I’m one of the journalist Dr. Payet and Ms. Raff are attacking because you bothrefuse to come out of the dark ages. But first, I’ve been a journalist for half a century and my office wall is adorned with numerous writing awards from my peers, including more than a dozen for investigative journalism. I recently presented an Investigative White Paper that debunks several of the tired old-fashioned arguments of the ultra-conservative Archeological community. Here’s the summary from the reprint of that paper. It’s called Chasing the Beringia Land Bridge Myth and Finding Solutrean Boats.

      “Where are the boats?” is the trump card used by traditional archeologists and anthropologists who seek to preserve the status quo and their reputations in the highly competitive world of academia. Since the 1930s, the Clovis First mantra has taken root and become such gospel that many scientists seeking Paleo-Indian traces ceased digging for evidence once such stone tools were found. After all, alleged knowledgeable researchers had established the Beringia Land Bridge crossing occurred 10,000 years ago. Scientific exploration of other fields began pushing back the Beringia Land Bridge time to 13,000 years and even beyond. The effort to prevent erosion of academians’ previous timeline assertions eventually resulted in the recent claim that Asian migrants sat at the crossing point from Siberia for 10,000 years waiting for a pathway to melt so they could head south through Alaska and Canada to eventually reach North America. Unexplained is how they could accomplish that without shelter, food or water.

      “All that began to change when some researchers refused to sit still and began to dig below Clovis levels. The first such find was at the Meadowcroft Rock Shelter in Pennsylvania where pre-Clovis tools and projectile points were found that resembled those from the Upper Paleolithic era of SouthWestern Europe. But, the Solutrean Civilization that spawned them had vanished during the Last Glacial Maximum (Ice Age) in Europe, some 20,000 years ago. Soon archeologists were following the Meadowcroft lead and digging deeper. Smaller pre-Clovis points began to crop up from various sites stretching all the way to Florida.

      “Larry Moniz, a multiple-award winning investigative journalist and author became fascinated with the topic. He put another project about Northeastern Woodland Indians on hold to investigate. Expecting a project that could take years, if ever, to come to fruition, Moniz, himself an amateur archeologist and member of the Society for Pennsylvania Archeology began his own research. In a matter of months his research revealed the Beringia Land Bridge Gospel was apparently a fraud perpetrated hundreds of years ago. In addition, he found evidence that suggests the first humans to arrive in North America did so by boat and they were Solutreans from the Iberian Penninsula.

      “His resulting paper demonstrates, with photographs from historical sources and Museums in France and Spain that the Solutreans were apparently a seagoing people who fled the ice age and potential starvation and fled across the sea in the world’s first flotilla of ocean-going passenger vessels. While Moniz recognizes that his research will be challenged by the entrenched academics who have built their reputations on the Beringia Land Bridge Myth and Clovis First, he’s confident they will be hard pressed to refute his premise that those researchers now truly know where the boats were and where replicas exist to this day.”

      I noticed Ms. Raff puts down all things Solutrean, saying: “rejects the consensus view by researchers that the ancient Native American Clovis peoples were descended from ancestors who lived in Beringia (who themselves were descended from ancient peoples who lived in Siberia).” She avoids mentioning that two of the foremost exponents of the theory are also two of the world’s top researchers, Drs. Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford. Stanford is an archaeologist and director of the Paleoindian/Paleoecology Program at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum in the world a likely the most prestigious.

      Bradley is Professor of Prehistory at the University of Exeter and has several international institutional affiliations including Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution, adjunct Professor at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD and Adjunct faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India.

      Yet, among the first things Ms. Raff and Dr. Payet ignore the credibility of those esteemed archeologists so they can maintain the “consensus” view of Beringia and Clovis First. They also ignore all the pre-Clovis findings in various parts of the U.S. and the virtually complete lack of Clovis Points in Alaska, western Canada and the western United States. They also ignore the ever changing, increasingly earlier, dating for the alleged Beringia Migration because it fails to conform to the consensus. Remember, according to an old joke, a camel, perhaps also an elephant, were animals designed by consensus.

      In the months of research into Solutrean migration, I discovered some interesting facts. The Beringia Myth appears to stem from a politically based fraud. Beringian description allegedly was included in the first edition of a book by Jesuit Missionary Jose deAcosta who wrote the book after 15 years researching in SOUTH America. How he managed to allegedly right about the topic 138 years before Vitus Bering explored the straits is an ongoing mystery. I look forward to an explanation one day from the Jesuits who were trying at the time to gain control of South America. My paper contains all the appropriate citations to verify my assertions. Such a disparity leads one to wonder how the Beringia myth remains alive. According to a major Texas educational institution, it’s because textbook publishers continue to include the misleading information in new books.

      Dr. Michael B. Collins, Research Professor in Anthropology at Texas State University codirects the world-renowned Gault archaeological site in Central Texas. He was challenged by a colleague to “show me the boats.” I found the challenge fascinating. Why the “consensus” argues the existence of the boats seems trivial as even older ocean-voyages have been established to Australia and Polynesia. Also Thor Heyerdahl sailed west across the Pacific on a raft in 1949, thereby proving such voyages possible.

      During my research, I discovered the boats. Specifically, they are depicted on paintings simply described as “black signs” by the Spanish Museums. But, they clearly show large wooden-hulled boats, some displaying sail. In a similar attempt at subterfuge immediately after I delivered my paper at the Society for Pennsylvania Archeology Conference in early April, I was approached by a man who failed to introduce himself. His only comment was a challenge: How could they have fastened boards to the boat before invention of nails. He then turned and walked away before I had an opportunity to answer.

      It’s quite simple. The boats were built in a fashion similar to American Indian Longhouses, with a frame of rib to which squares of bark were tied and the who thing sealed with Pine Pitch. It would have provided an even sturdier method for crossing the North Atlantic than even the animal-skin boats Bradley and Stanford advanced.
      By now, I assume many of the readers here have heard that consensus was reached on the Monte Verde site in Chile. It’s now conceded that site predates the alleged Beringia migration by, if memory serves, a thousand years. In addition, all those migrants apparently raced through North America, Mexico and Central America then the length of South America to become established in Chile. Ha! Even Einstein would have disbelieved that speed of light claim.

      The most disturbing part is not that the scientist got it wrong with regard to Beringia, but that many built their reputations on an illegitimate hypothesis and refused to accept any contradictory evidence. Hence, thousands of students have received inaccurate educations involving one of the main issues of America’s exploration.

      Research is less a philanthropic activity than a business. College professors and private industry researchers are paid for their work first by the employing institutions, then by the academic book publishers that publish their works. Obviously, there’s little market for dozens of books that contain major factual errors by the authors.

      • 

        So in a few months you uncovered evidence that escaped the archaeological community for decades? That’s impressive, if true. I have my doubts, since your claim rests on the assumption of massive corruption on the part of all the scientists who disagree with you.

        Assume, for the sake of argument, that the mainstream scientists aren’t stupid or corrupt. What is their basis for disagreeing with you under that assumption? From an objective standpoint, what’s the strongest argument against your position?

        • 

          He didn’t claim to uncover all of that himself. I’ve actually heard of several of the points he was making. I’m not convinced of the Solutrean Hypothesis however, I have never heard a solid argument against it instead, i have heard stuff like the straw man argument you just made.. So, fare the recent DNA analysis is the best but it really disprove it. There could have been to migrations after all. I suspect, a small population did cross the Atlantic and was wiped out by the Atlantic.

          I am interested in the opinions of people who are both archeologist and flint nappers and than just archeologists.

      • 

        I don’t mind having dissenting opinions posted here. It’s possible that the spam filters caught yours–if so, I apologize. EDITED TO ADD: Larry, I searched my spam folder and didn’t find a single comment from you. Are you sure you posted one? Would you please recap it for us?

        What journal is your paper published in?

        You’re quite right that I’m not a journalist–I’m a scientist. And this is my personal blog, so…yes, I publish my opinions here. That is what one does on blogs. I’m not sure why you are outraged by that.

        There’s no need to be formal on my blog, so calling me Jennifer is just fine. But if you prefer using titles, mine is “Doctor”, not “Ms.”

        • 
          Patrick McDonald May 4, 2014 at 3:01 pm

          Our “journalist” makes a lot of errors in grammar and spelling, especially for someone, as he says,so reknowned in his field.

      • 

        “It appears Jennifer treats this blog as her own personal opinion site and doesn’t tolerate dissent as my opinion, posted yesterday, has vanished”

        She did no such thing so drop it.

        “But first, I’ve been a journalist for half a century and my office wall is adorned with numerous writing awards from my peers”

        Which means nothing in the world of the archaeologist. So what do you want from us a cookie?

        “White Paper that debunks several of the tired old-fashioned arguments of the ultra-conservative Archeological community. Here’s the summary from the reprint of that paper. It’s called Chasing the Beringia Land Bridge Myth and Finding Solutrean Boats”

        Actually it does no such thing. It uses rhetorical slight of hand to get the audience to think that there is evidence of a Solutrean connection when non exists.

        “Where are the boats?” is the trump card used by traditional archeologists and anthropologists who seek to preserve the status quo and their reputations in the highly competitive world of academia”

        Actually no this is not why we archaeologists reject the solutreans hypothesis. What we are asking for is evidence of a maritime tradition among the solutreans. The solutrean complex tool industry is highly indicative of a people whom hunted larger terrestrial land animals. In other words mammoth, wooly rhino’s, various types of deer etc. What we don’t see is a dedicated tool industry for hunting large marine animals. This would be something along the lines of toggling harpoons weights for nets etc.

        The assertion of a solutrean connection to north America is based on a single projectile point that superficially resembles a solutrean biface. The problem with this is that there is not other indication of a material cultural link to the solutrean. In addition there is NO connection what so ever to older complexes such as the Miller, Nenana, Denali, Dyuktai or Clovis cultures and all the cultures in between.

        As for boats one could easily point to a maritime relationship if one could show clear usage of said maritime tradition even without finding a boat.

        For instance we know from Franchthi (Greek Φράγχθη) that the inhabitants were visiting the Cyclades as early as 15,000 BCE as we have found obsidian from Melos. Now we haven’t found a boat from that time period but the evidence infers that they had access to a boating tradition.

        The same would be true of north America. We would expect to find Franco/Ebro, sources of chert indicative of usage among the solutreans. The only difference would be we would find this material in the Americas. Then you could infer such a connection. But no such inference can be made because the evidence doesn’t exist.

        Now what bubbles are we going to claim that archaeologists are hiding the evidence?

  2. 

    Don’t tell Putin. If native americans are all Russian ethnically, we could be annexed next.

    • 

      Interestingly, they’re not actually “Russian”. They have their own unique genetic markers, which is one of the reasons we think that ancestral Native American populations must have been isolated for quite some time before moving southward into the continents–those markers needed some time to evolve! We geneticists think that this isolation could have happened in Beringia, but we don’t really know since most of the land bridge is now under water and we can’t look for the sites to test our hypothesis. It’s one of the great unsolved mysteries in our field, and many researchers are working on clever ways to try to solve it.

  3. 

    Making shit up out of the whole cloth–the way of religion since forever. The people pushing this bullshit don’t care what real geneticists have to say. Like Fox News, they just keep repeating their lies until they magically become the “truth”.

    • 

      There’s a groupthink element to this, certainly. Honestly, if this blog had a single theme, it might be “You’re not right just because you’re going against scientific consensus.” Not that the scientific consensus is automatically right, and it’s good to question it. But it’s a consensus for a reason!

      • 

        >But it’s a consensus for a reason!

        Sure, but those reasons don’t have to be scientific or based on evidence. The various scientific disciplines are very political and there’s a crisis taking place among the journals and their publishers. For example if you ask the average college student if our genetics influence our behavior too many of them will tell you there is no evidence that is the case and that there is overwhelming evidence our genes do not affect us. However they are completely unaware of how those studies were conducted and how many of them have been retracted.

        Genetics and anthropology has a lot of problems of its own, of particular interest is the rethinking of the Out of Africa hypothesis and what a species is and how it’s defined. There’s been a lot of good evidence against the Out of Africa theory since it’s inception however the American Anthropological Society has a strong cultural Marxist bent to it’s ideology and this influences its members and the field of anthropology in general. As an example is this statement released by the AAA in 98: http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm

        This statement makes a mockery of science, history, and the field of anthropology.

        Rethinking Out of Africa: http://www.edge.org/conversation/rethinking-out-of-africa

        • 

          I agree with your criticism of the AAA, but I think you may overestimate it’s influence, especially on the matters at hand. Over the last few decades the AAA has largely come to represent various cultural anthropology perspectives, and it has indeed moved away from hard science research (with many people being downright dismissive of it), but relatively few paleoanthropologists, bioarchaeologists, or even archaeologists are on board. I’m not even a member. The folks mentioned above have their own academic societies, and are also in many cases more closely aligned with the sciences (e.g., geology, biology, genetics, paleontology, ecology, etc.) than they are with cultural anthropology.

        • 

          I’m a bit confused by what you find so ideologically radical in the piece on race you link to; as far as I know, the profound indeterminacy at a genetic level of what we call race is a fairly commonplace idea in natural and human sciences. Beyond that, it’s fairly obvious the the phenotypic boundaries of “races” change wildly over time (ask an American now, and in the 1940′s if an Italian is white). This is why, for instance, an actual forensic anthropologist working a set of osteological remains will give probabilities as to an individual’s race (and, for that matter, sex), rather than the confident determinations you see on CSI.

          As to the historical, political, and violent uses of the concept referenced in the ’98 piece, they too are fairly commonplace and obvious. They are also crucial to the debate, considering that a concept’s use is at least as crucial to analyse as its purported meaning or reference. I’m really missing the bias which you find so egregious.

      • 

        The reason being retaining lucrative collegiate positions and book contracts?

  4. 

    The TV show “America Unearthed” is basically about trying to prove that Europeans were here in numbers before Columbus and the Vikings at L’Anse aux Meadows. Jason Colavito (http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog.html) does an excellent job of debunking the claims on that show, in addition to other fringe history TV shows. “America Unearthed” recently featured the Solutrean Hypothesis and Jason wrote an excellent blog post on the subject.

  5. 
    Patrick McDonald March 18, 2014 at 11:19 am

    We sometimes forget that the purpose of commercial newsmedia is to sell advertising space and thus increase profits.

    • 

      That is a poor excuse for peddling misinformation.

      • 
        Patrick McDonald March 18, 2014 at 10:56 pm

        Our economic system is not noted for its committment to an educated public. The corporate media, as part of the system, share many of its attributes.

    • 

      Actually, advertising is merely one department in any journalistic operation. Any ethical media outlet operates its news operation without any interference from advertising. Actually, college educators have a far closer tie-in between professors and the number of students they draw to their courses. Without sufficient students, professors loose their jobs. That’s why they protect absurd hypotheses such as Beringia and, thus, their reputations. Their pronouncements are always carefully worded with enough escape clauses so they can always back away if painted into a corner. Words like, perhaps, it appears, evidence leads us to believe, etc., ad nauseum. Journalists put their careers, reputations and jobs on the line every day by reporting facts rather than suppositions.

  6. 

    What about the archaeological finds on the east coast that Dennis Stanford claims are 20,000 years old? Just smoke?

    • 

      I’m trying to talk an archaeologist into writing a guest post on how dating works, and specifically evaluate the evidence on the Solutrean claims, because I don’t want you to just take my word for it–that’s not what this site is all about! But until then, I’ll just say that Stanford’s finds are not in securely dated contexts–a critical flaw for his claims.

      • 

        Well as an archaeology student who has worked on a few sites now I’m working on just that particular subject matter. I will try and go through the comment section here and offer what I can. Unfortunately from what I have read from a few of these folks the level of stupid is pretty high.

  7. 

    I look forward to the post!

  8. 

    The “Solutrian Hypothesis” has zero to do with genetics and has everything to do with material technology diffusion. Both sides got that wrong. There are plenty of examples of agricultural and zoological diffusion that don’t rely on stone age tools, but rather on sailing technologies.. However, all of it, even the so called “consensus” is speculation.

    • 
      Patrick McDonald March 18, 2014 at 10:55 pm

      Are you saying that stone age sailing craft could cross the Atlantic? I’m not sure I understand your point. I am guessing the consensus to which you refer is the settlement of North America by H.sapiens

      • 

        The issue isn’t whether Stone Age sailing craft could cross the Atlantic, Patrick. The issue is that Bradley and Stanford are claiming that they did, but they didn’t bring other cultural practices–such as the art found in cave paintings–with them, nor did they leave any credible evidence of their arrival in the form of DNA sequences among today’s Native Americans that are also found in Europe. The claim below utterly misrepresents the state-of-the-science understandings of DNA analysis, and it doesn’t take many needles to pop those particular balloons. Like pointing out just how large the oceans actually are, and the fact the maritime compass wasn’t invented until around the tenth or eleventh century C.E.

        Despite the rather arrogant claim that archaeologists are unaware of issues within their own profession, the fact is Bradley and Stanford’s hypothesis is a huge embarrassment to many. Sanford is claiming a Solutrean spearpoint was found in waters off the East Coast, but it’s far more reasonable to suggest it came from ballast from a Spanish ship.

        That “Lost Civilizations of North America” video Jennifer mentioned featured some edited gross misrepresentations of the views of the scientists who were interviewed, and the impression was given that they endorsed the idea that people other than the original Central Asian/Siberians who entered this hemisphere via the Beringia land bridge had an impact on the development of authentic pre-Columbian culture in the New World.

        Unfortunately, as I read somewhere when fact checking the Von Dänikenesque claims of Gavin Menzies, “Bunk sells, and de-bunking doesn’t.”

        • 

          Hi randy; I notice you didn’t cite any “state of the science” understanding of DNA analysis. Perhaps you can pass that along to Steven Oppenheimer of OXFORD university, who agrees that Waters doesn’t produce “ANY” Dna evidence to refute Solutrean. And wow, large oceans, and didn’t invent compass (stars were invented a little earlier)
          In northern Spain, the Solutrean population lived in a narrow strip of coastal plain and foothills close to the ocean, and likely augmented their food supply by turning to the ocean, contrary to what Straus believes. Solutrean artists, they say, left evidence for this “in their rock art depicting sea mammals, deep-water fish and great auks.” The deep sea fish is a diamond-shaped flat fish that looks like a halibut; a seal with what appears to be a arrow penetrating it also appears. Both suggest the Solutreans were moving into deep waters offshore in skin boats to harvest food.
          During the depths of the last Ice Age (the LGM), the Arctic ice “formed much further south during the LGM, covering major portions of the North Atlantic and connecting Europe and North America with an ice Bridge,” pushing animals that lived on the ice-margin southward. These conditions “resulted in a major annual influx of migratory sea mammals, birds and fishes into the Bay of Biscay from early fall through spring.
          Bradley and Stanford believe the Solutreans had the waterproof clothing, nets, harpoon gear and watercraft necessary to exploit the marine resources, and that the ice provided excellent hunting opportunities and some protection from waves. They lived like the Inuit, harvesting seals and seabirds as they moved along the margins of the ice fields, landing their boats on ice at night to dry. As the cool climate phase began to collapse, they believe that the Solutreans began following the annual migrations of harp and grey seals (who move north with the receding ice in summer, and south in the winter), traveling further and further out to sea. These seals would have migrated across the North Atlantic and eventually south to Canada and the east coast. The “entire distance along the ice bridge would have been around 2500km, shorter than the Thule Inuit migrations from Alaska to Greenland. Some families eventually established camps along the Western Atlantic seaboard and did not return to Europe.”

          • 

            That’s a very elaborate story that Bradley and Stanford have constructed, based on very scanty data. Where’s the evidence that they “lived like the Inuit”? Where’s the evidence for those Solutrean maritime adaptations? Where’s the evidence for this ice margin Where’s the evidence for these family camps, and why do we not see genetic traces of them in ancient or living Native Americans? Why do the few tools that Bradley and Stanford hinge their entire hypothesis on come from contexts so poorly dated that they can only be “published” in a popular book?

            Oh, and a particular university affiliation does not automatically equate with being correct. Don’t fall into that trap, please.

        • 

          Randy,
          The Solutrean hypothesis suggests Europeans whose native habitats had been rendered dry, barren wastelands in the wake of the last glacier maximum, were drawn to the edges of the massive ice sheet connecting Europe to America because there was noticeable activity in the form of seals, walruses, fish, etc at ice edge. Since their current environment had little to offer in the way of sustenance, naturally Solutreans gravitated toward an area that did. This did not require a compass, skills for sailing over open water for long distances, nor boats constructed to do the same. Hungry, desperate Solutreans could have, and seemingly did, eke their way along the ice edge in pursuit of something as simple to eat…so they could remain, you know, alive. This occurrence in no way invalidates or alters Asians entering America via the Bering Strait land bridge or any other way. However, it is likely that far more people of Asian descent crossed the Bering land bridge than arrived here from Europe via ice, which accounts for the genetics of contemporary Native Americans: mostly Asian contribution, with a percentage (mostly East Coast tribes) showing European contribution as well.

          • 

            Lee, there is the small matter of the five to six thousand year timetable between the Solutreans in Europe and the earliest solid evidence of humans in North America. That’s roughly comparable to the entire length of recorded human history. There’s also the matter of geography; those oceans are big and fearsome critters, and the history of maritime sailing generally shows that populations that engage in ocean-going exploration require a long time to develop their technology (for which there’s no evidence for among the Solutrean people). There has always been a certain “romance” to claims of seafaring people, and my take is this has colored people’s biases.

            I also wonder how, over all those millennia, these ancient mariners were able to hold onto their lithic technology (where, for example, would they find the flint and chert for their spear points?).

          • 

            Randy
            “Lee, there is the small matter of the five to six thousand year timetable between the Solutreans in Europe and the earliest solid evidence of humans in North America.”
            I think randy means solid evidence as in Monte Verde was not solid evidence for two decades until we decided it was. In the meantime, let’s look at some of the “unsolid” evidence that Mike Waters documents dating back to the Solutrean period.
            From Science magazine, M a r c h 1 5 , 2 0 1 2 : “But a 2010 paper by Stanford and other researchers, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, includes the kind of evidence that the pair think might ultimately turn the tide in the argument. At the site of Miles Point on the Chesapeake Bay in eastern Maryland, geologist Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware, Newark, dated sediments containing stone tools that Stanford says resemble Solutrean implements to as early as 25,000 years ago. Those dates would make the tools the earliest artifacts in the Americas. Similarly old implements, Stanford and Bradley report in the book, have been found by Lowery and other researchers at several other sites along the East Coast. Archaeologist Michael Waters of Texas A&M, who has seen the Miles Point tools in Stanford’s Smithsonian lab, says that the Maryland location is a “very intriguing site that could be very significant,” but he emphasizes that the work “is preliminary and more excavations are needed.”
            From 2008 Science article by Waters
            “The evidence for humans in the Americas even earlier than 15 ka is less secure, but recently has been presented for four sites: Cactus Hill (Virginia), La Sena (Nebraska), Lovewell (Kansas), and Topper (South Carolina). Cactus Hill is a sand-dune site with late prehistoric, Archaic, and Clovis levels. Potentially older artifacts, including small prismatic blade cores, blades, and two basally thinned bifacial points were recovered 10 to 15 cm below the Clovis level (65). Three 14C dates ranging from 20 to 18 ka are reported from the levels below Clovis… An even older occupation has been proposed based on taphonomically altered mammoth bones at the La Sena and Lovewell sites that date from 22 to 19 ka (67). Neither site has yielded stone tools or evidence of butchering; however, many of the leg bones display percussion impact and flaking, which suggests that they were quarried and flaked by humans while they were in a fresh, green state, within a few years of the death of the animals…”
            Randy
            “history of maritime sailing generally shows that populations that engage in ocean-going exploration require a long time to develop their technology (for which there’s no evidence for among the Solutrean people)
            Critics like Lawrence Straus argue that there is no representations of boats among the Solutreans and no evidence of seafaring capability or the ability to make a living on the ocean. The same inference could be drawn from Aurignacian assemblages found on a Mediterranean island (Sicily) dating back 30,000 years BP. They didn’t swim to Sicily, so boats were obviously used, but there is no physical proof of this. Bradley and Stanford responded with the obvious, that direct archaeological evidence of ancient watercraft is “problematic at best” given that sea levels are some 300-400 feet higher than during the Ice Age, leaving coastal sites and archaeological remains submerged in deep water. Moreover, materials used in early boat construction “were perishable and would not readily survive in most environments. In addition, such craft are usually stored near water and would have suffered degradation through erosion by the tides of rapidly rising sea levels associated with deglaciation.” Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
            In northern Spain, the Solutrean population lived in a narrow strip of coastal plain and foothills close to the ocean, and likely augmented their food supply by turning to the ocean, contrary to what Professor Straus believes. Solutrean artists, Stanford and Bradley say, left evidence for this “in their rock art depicting sea mammals, deep-water fish and great auks.” The deep sea fish is a diamond-shaped flat fish that looks like a halibut; a seal with what appears to be a arrow penetrating it also appears. Both suggest the Solutreans were moving into deep waters offshore in skin boats to harvest food.”
            In 1963, University of Michigan anthropologist E.F. Greenman was one of the first scholars to propose a Solutrean link to the northeastern US, noting the unusual similarities between Beothuk canoes in Newfoundland and a Paleolithic cave painting from Castillo Spain(dating to the Upper Paleolithic); both have an unusual raised triangular mid-section (presumably designed to help prevent wave spillover. “It is the presence in Newfoundland of the Beothuk canoe, in addition to the conventional kayak, that is the most convincing part of the argument in favor of a crossing of the Atlantic from the Bay of Biscay, where both types are pictured in Upper Palaeolithic times… This canoe was first created along the Spanish coast of the Bay of Biscay, obviously for travel along the seacoast. Evidence of such travel out some distance exists in the form of at least one engraving of a deep-sea fish on the wall of a cave in the same locality…The Beothuk canoe is an extremely improbable type for the rivers of Newfoundland, which are unusually wide and shallow, and full of rocks…The Beothuk canoe was for deep water…” (Greenman; Upper Palaeolithic and New World; Current Anthropology, Vol 4, no 1; Feb. 1963 at 61).

            The Beothunk are described as the “only Amerindian group to navigate the high seas” on the basis of swordfish remains at Beothuk sites. Harvard professor Stephen Williams notes that during the Archaic period, “on the New England coast some intrepid mariners went to sea in some sort of craft and caught the delightfully edible offshore prize the swordfish. The distinctive swordfish bills have been found in such numbers at a few Archaic sites that no other explanation seems possible—the only way to take swordfish is by harpoon in deep offshore areas…so they must have had seaworthy boats, for which there is not a shred of archaeological data other than the swordfish.” (Fantastic Archaeology, at 317).
            J.M. Erlandson, a marine archaeologist at the University of Oregon and noted authority on ancient sailing craft, finds it curious that most scholars believe our ancestors did not adapt to aquatic environments until very recently. The general perception, he says, that humans only systematically adapted to marine environments during the last 10,000 to 15,000 years “has long inhibited the study of maritime adaptations, coastal migrations, and boats.” I was once “warned not to write about coastal migration in my dissertation. My adviser said I would ruin my career,” says Erlandson.
            Along the northern Pacific route, archaeological evidence in Japan suggests that by at least 21,000 years ago, maritime peoples from Honshu were using boats to procure obsidian from Kozushima Island located approximately 50 km offshore. This is also significant “because it places competent mariners in the cool waters and boreal climates of the North Pacific at a date early enough to have contributed to the initial colonization of the Americas.” (Erlandson in The first Americans: The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World; Ed Nina Jablonski; Wattis Symposium Series in Anthropology, Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences Number 27, at 70-71).
            Rafts or skin boats would have been the most likely candidates for early crossings of the North Atlantic along the margins of the ice, where they could have landed when storms developed. In his classic book The Sea-Craft of pre-History, Paul Johnstone says the best guess about the arrival of skin covered boats in North Europe is in the “immediate Postglacial or the late Pleistocene,” roughly the same time as the Solutreans(at 41). Nothing remains of these ancient boats, but later skin boats found primarily along the west coast of Ireland and Norway are “both open to the worst the Atlantic can do. Craft that can stand up to these conditions have to be really seaworthy.” (at 27). He also cites a number of accounts suggesting the curragh and umiak were highly capable of in rough, cold seas. The boats could carry 2-10 tens, but were light enough to be carried by two men, and would ride the crest of waves. According to the one-time Commandant of the US Coast Guard Academy, from what he witnessed on ice patrols south of Greenland, the umiak “was perfectly capable of remaining afloat in almost any weather.”

          • 

            Lee, see my reply above about “Hyper-diffusionist Apologetics” in general, and I hope I don’t sound too patronizing with the geographical information I’m going to cite again (like pointing out the distance between Europe and the East Coast of the United States is more than 3,000 miles), but I felt that way when you brought Erlandson into the discussion. I know who he is, and the real problem with his claims is the DNA evidence for the origins of Native Americans solidly points to Siberia and not Japan or elsewhere. That fact and the reality of “polar distances” being much shorter (check out a globe on that one) makes a more northerly route far more likely. And with advances in autosomal DNA recovery and sequencing (Jennifer can doubtless elaborate on that subject), that “absence of evidence” would indeed be strong evidence of absence. It is also an easy matter with autosomal DNA to determine whether the potential contributions occurred in relatively recent or archaic times (owing to genetic recombination; newer admixture sequences would be much longer and obvious; Simon has a colorful Aussie metaphor for that one).

            There are simply so many holes in your hodge-podge of claims that I wind up dismissing them as “fringe apologetics” that border on cherry-picking. I chose that 20,000 year figure for the Solutreans purposely, and even if one accepts Monte Verde as legitimate (Stuart Fiedel visited this blogsite on a prior entry, and he certainly doesn’t; I do think his voice deserves to be heard and not shouted down), that created the 5-6,000 year figure you dismiss so gratuitously. Now are you prepared to say that actual recorded human history began before then? Adjusting perceptions can be painful, but I did have some training in “quick-and-dirty” techniques for cognitive restructuring.

            Nobody disputes that ancient peoples had watercraft, but it’s a far cry from an excursion of 30 miles (I can speak metric if need be, but Olde English is better understood by the masses) to one more than hundred times further that would require provisions for fresh water, etc. and likely didn’t occur until modern times. BTW, the distance from Italy to Sicily is less than five miles at the closest point. Did you perhaps mean Corsica or Crete? There still would’ve been evidence for ancient mariners in the form of seabirds, cloud formations, etc. that they weren’t sailing off into an abyss. And the Mediterranean is a whole lot warmer than the North Pacific or North Atlantic.

            I note you also had to resort of citing controversial claims and presenting them as “factual, settled issues” (Meadowbrook, Cactus Hill, et al; there has been criticism as well of Waters’ use of thermoluminescent dating on the Friedkin site) in attempting to derail my figure comparing the time differential to recorded human history. I had Monte Verde in mind (even if I have strong doubts on that one), and I “gave” it to the pre-Clovis crowd, using a previous figure of around 13,000 years. Now I see the “fudge factors” are operating with some “mammoth bones” (I thought they were mastodon) being offered in at 14,800 years. Anna C. Roosevelt saw factors like that as a problem with MV dates, and the latest I saw from her was in reply to “Were there pre-Clovis people?” was “Probably is the safest answer.”

            It’s important, however, to know when one is engaging in story-telling and when one is engaging in science.

          • 

            My apologies to Lee; I see it was Bill Tiffee who made that lengthy reply to my post, and not Lee. My analysis was aimed at Erlandson’s hypothetical claims and the fact that the DNA evidence for the ancestry of Native Americans is not consistent with an east Asian origin but rather points to Siberia. That leaves any speculative claims about Japanese maritime activity during the Pleistocene irrelevant to the debate. BTW, the first people to settle in Japan most likely crossed to those islands via land bridges. The only deep water migration that’s documented is the settlement of Taiwan by the ancestors of today’s Polynesians (who spread both west across the Indian Ocean to Madagascar and east to populate the islands of the Pacific. Finally, this historical use of the umiak only dates back a few thousand years; not tens of thousands.

  9. 

    In the dim hopes of educating the archaeology community about their own profession, I have some comments about this post. The main proponents of the Solturean thesis are Bruce Bradley of Exeter University (considered the country’s leading expert on Paleo-Indian flaked-stone technology) and Dennis Stanford (Curator of Archaeology and Director of the Paleoindian/Paleoecology Program and former Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution), two well respected professionals who have documented close similarities in the tools, as others have since the 1930s. As critics point out, while many of the Solutrean features are found in Clovis, not all the Solutrean package is found in Clovis.
    Dr. Tom Dillehay, a prominent archaeologist at Vanderbilt University and the lead investigator at Monte Verde in Chile (the site that eventually proved a pre-Clovis presence), “thinks the Solutrean link is at least as plausible as the idea of skirting ice sheets in boats along the Pacific coast to America.” (Science, 19 Nov. 1999; 1468). “I think it’s feasible,” says Dillehay, “The evidence is building up, and it certainly warrants discussion.” (Washington Post, feb. 29, 2012)
    Bradley and Stanford assert that not only are there remarkable convergences in Solutrean and Clovis tools, the time frames are consistent with the oldest American sites.

    “The oldest radiocarbon dates for a Clovis site are from the south east, whereas the youngest dates are from the west. There is a clear overlapping of declining radiocarbon ages from Solutrean, Cactus Hill, Meadowcroft, Page-Ladson and the earliest Clovis in the East and western Clovis. We therefore suggest that the pre-Clovis technologies are transitional between Solutrean and Clovis as, not only do they fill the time gap, they are also conveniently located near the Atlantic Coasts of Europe and North America.” (2004; the North Atlantic ice-edge corridor: a possible Palaeolithic route to the New World; Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford; World Archaeology Vol. 36(4): 459 – 478)

    From Science magazine, M a r c h 1 5 , 2 0 1 2 : “But a 2010 paper by Stanford and other researchers, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, includes the kind of evidence that the pair think might ultimately turn the tide in the argument. At the site of Miles Point on the Chesapeake Bay in east-ern Maryland, geologist Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware, Newark, dated sediments containing stone tools that Stanford says resemble Solutrean implements to as early as 25,000 years ago. Those dates would make the tools the earliest artifacts in the Americas. Similarly old implements, Stanford and Bradley report in the book, have been found by Lowery and other researchers at several other sites along the East Coast. Archaeologist Michael Watersof Texas A&M, who has s een the Miles Poin ttools in Stanford’s Smithsonian lab, says that the Maryland location is a “very intriguing site that could be very significant,” but he emphasizes that the work is preliminary and more excavations are needed.”
    As to the ability of skin boats to travel along the margins of the Ice Shield of the North Atlantic at that time, hunting migrating seals and sea birds, Paul Johnstone says in his classic book The Sea-Craft of pre-History that the best guess about the arrival of skin covered boats in North Europe is in the “immediate Postglacial or the late Pleistocene,” roughly the same time as the Solutreans(at 41).
    As to the claims by Deborah Bolnick about X, while the Native American genetic marker X2a is only found in America, there is a curious marker called X2* (X2J) that has been found in an Iranian individual and Egyptian nomads that links to North America. Fernades et al (2012) make an even more explicit link between the Native American X2a and the Egyptian X2j:
    “A curious feature of the tree is the possible connection of X2a to the north-African clade X2j through a mutation at position 12,397. However, this mutation might be a recurrence;…. The rare X2g, also found only in Native Americans, indicates that the spread from the Near East toward the Americas could have begun as early as the emergence of the X2þ225 clade, given that this could have been the only founder sequence.”(Fernades et al; The Arabian Cradle: Mitochondrial Relicts of the First Steps along the Southern Route out of Africa; The American Journal of Human Genetics 90, 347–355, February 10, 2012)
    The study by Reidla et al suggests a Near East origin for X rather than the Altai or Siberian region(where Haplogroup X has also been found recently): “the few Altaian (Derenko et al. 2001) and Siberian haplography X lineages are not related to the Native American cluster, and they are more likely explained by recent gene flow from Europe or from West Asia.” They believe that the Near East is the likely geographical source for the spread of X2, and that the associated population dispersal occurred around, or after, the depths of the last Ice Age (LGM) when the climate ameliorated. (Maere Reidla; Origin and Diffusion of mtDNA Haplogroup X;Am. J. Hum. Genet. 73:1178–1190, 2003).
    In their article in the Skeptic magazine, Bolnick cites a study by Lisa Mills to refute claims of European presence in ancient America. Here is what Mills actually found when she documented the DNA profile of human remains at Hopewell sites in Ohio dating back 2,000 years. Despite elaborate efforts to prevent contamination, just 17% of the samples tested indicated Native American genes, with 83 percent showing European “contamination,” which Mills attributes to her British heritage. Mills, Lisa. 2003. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of the Ohio Hopewell of the Hopewell Mound group. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
    Another interesting observation by Mills is that “About 80% of their sample were dolicocephalic or long-headed, while 10% to 15% of the sample was brachycephalic or round-headed.” Dolicocephalic skulls are widely associated with Caucasians (such as the famous Kennewick Man) while Mongolians skulls are considered brachycephalic; the dolicocephalic skulls are in the same proportion as the European “contamination.” A real science would attempt to replicate mill’s study to see if it is modern contamination.
    As for Ken Feder claiming these theories that native Americans were capable of developing civilizations on their own, one wonders why the complex technologies brought to the Americas by the Europeans were not independently invented by the Natives, who are the cultural and biological descendants of the Hopewell/Adena Moundbuilders(whoever they were). Professor Feder’s credibility can be summed up in a single sentence: “New world pyramids are all truncated with flat tops, while Egyptian pyramids are pointed on top.” (Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology at 127). Most academics are aware of stepped pyramids in Egypt, where they appear at the same time as Aspero and Caral in Peru, and most academics are aware of conical mounds (pyramids) in the Americas.

    • 

      Bill,

      I’m sure it’s very kind of you to try to educate us about our field. Yes, in fact, I do know who the proponents of the Solutrean hypothesis are. I do not accept your ‘argument from authority’ as grounds to give deference to their ideas. (Actually if one were to pile up the weight of degrees, titles, and publications on both sides, I’m afraid that your side would fall rather short in comparison.) Archaeology isn’t done that way–instead, we consider the evidence in support of each hypothesis. The Solutrean hypothesis simply isn’t supported by any evidence.

      Also, before you use studies to try to “educate” us about our own field, perhaps you might consider reading them? I would be more than happy to send you a PDF of Lisa Mills’ dissertation–if you’re going to write about it, actually reading the entire thing might save you the embarrassment of writing about what you don’t understand. I would also be happy to send you copies of any additional publications that you might not have access to–I’ve got all of the published peer-reviewed Native American genetics studies from North America here on my laptop. Just let me know what you need.

      I’ll address a few of your specific points. Sadly I don’t have time to go through each of them. Perhaps later.

      I think–and please correct me if I’m wrong– that you’re claiming that the European “contamination” in Mills’ study isn’t really contamination after all, but instead actual evidence of European ancestry in an ancient Hopewell population?

      Lisa did have contamination of quite a few of her negative controls, and it would indeed be nice if someone went back to redo her study, now that we have a better handle on how to prevent contamination. She did get some authentic Native American sequences (they’re actually portions of the non-coding hypervariable region, Bill, so they’re not “genes”), but while interesting and something that we think about, those results are considered very provisionally and cautiously by our field (including Dr. Bolnick). Everybody knows about the contaminated negative controls, and Mills herself talked about how her results were only preliminary. I don’t know if those particular samples are still available for study or whether they’ve been repatriated. But OTHER Hopewell (and PaleoIndian, and Archaic, and Late Woodland, and Mississippian, and Oneota) populations have been assessed genetically since then, and we see the same (Native American) sequences in those populations too, *without* contamination of the negative controls, but not the European sequences. Is that real enough science for you?

      We take contamination VERY seriously in our field–if you’d like to read more about how we do ancient DNA analyses, and how we try to prevent and detect contamination, I wrote about it here: http://violentmetaphors.com/2014/02/07/how-to-tell-if-an-ancient-dna-study-is-legit/ –and we don’t base our understanding about Native American genetic diversity on studies that include contaminated samples. Rather, we have approximately 20 years of careful genetic analysis of multiple ancient and modern populations throughout the Americas (without contamination) in which we see ZERO evidence of European ancestry. It’s likely that Mills’ controls were amplifying her own DNA, or possibly that from other laboratory workers (hence the “European” sequences). Those European sequences that she found were, as the negative controls showed, modern contamination, not evidence of an ancient European migration. Might I suggest you read Kemp and Schurr (2010) for an excellent and detailed review of the field? Or you could read my own paper in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Raff et al. 2011) which discusses the combined evidence as of that year. Again, I’m happy to send you copies of either of these if you think you’ll bother to read them.

      It’s fun and intuitive to think about different skull shapes, isn’t it? But even though we see quite a bit of variation in Native American populations, we also see quite a bit of variation in other populations as well. Measuring cephalic index is an old-school way of assessing ancestry, but unfortunately for your theories, when we genetically assess the “dolicocephalic” and “brachycephalic” cranial types we don’t see that they correspond with degree of European ancestry–all Native Americans typed thus far, ancient and modern, regardless of skull shape, still have Asian ancestry.

      You say: “Another interesting observation by Mills is that “About 80% of their sample were dolicocephalic or long-headed, while 10% to 15% of the sample was brachycephalic or round-headed.”” Mills was discussing an older study assessing ancestry in the Ohio Hopewell (Webb and Snow, 1945). Again, if you’d actually read her dissertation, you’d see that Webb and Snow were trying to figure out, based on cranial morphology, whether or not the Ohio Hopewell had ancestry from Ohio River Valley peoples and/or Adena–the discussion has nothing whatsoever to do with European ancestry. Here’s the full section, so you can see the context of the sentence you plucked out:

      “Webb and Snow (1945), based mainly upon cranial morphology, suggested that the Ohio Hopewell were characterized by three cranial shapes. About 80% of their sample were dolicocephalic or long-headed,while 10% to 15% of the sample was brachycephalic or round-headed, leaving the remaining sample as unidentifiable (Webb and Snow 1945). Snow (Webb and Snow 1945) defined the dolicocephalic type as Hopewell type 1 while the brachycephalic were considered “Adena-like” in their shape and designated Hopewell type 2. Based upon the cranial types, Snow postulated that the Hopewell type 1 cranial shapes were descendants of indigenous populations of the Ohio River Valley, while the people with the Adena type cranial shapes (Hopewell type 2) had migrated into the area (Webb and Snow 1945). He further suggests the possibility that the Hopewellian type 2 cranial shapes were a result of admixture between indigenous Hopewell and the invading Adena (Webb and Snow 1945).”

      The dolicocephalic skulls being “in the same proportion as the European “contamination.”” is irrelevant. If you actually read Mills’ study, you’d see that contamination was systematic–there was no correspondence between contaminated extracts and the dolicocephalic individuals. Both cranial shapes yielded uncontaminated sequences, and both cranial shapes yielded contaminated sequences. The degree of contamination varied by extraction lot she did (a pattern we would expect to see if some batches of her reagents were contaminated), not by individual. Sorry.

      That’s all I have time for right now. There’s a lot more to respond to, but I’m afraid it will have to wait. Oh, but perhaps it is worth mentioning that I spent last weekend with Mike Waters, who you claim approves of the Solutrean hypothesis. Mike, myself, and a bunch of other geneticists, paleo-climatologists, and archaeologists got together for a symposium to discuss the evidence supporting different scenarios for the peopling of the Americas. I can assure you, based on our discussions, that Dr. Waters does NOT consider the Solutrean hypothesis to be a credible explanation.

      • 

        But isn’t it worth noting that theories and hypotheses suggested by archaeologists and anthropologists are, especially in these times, like sands shifting in a constant, stiff wind? Never thought I’d see the day when someone like Chris Stringer would step away from ROOA, yet he did. The thing about “evidence” (including current genetic evidence)developed in both fields is that its is rarely definitive or incontrovertible, and is subject to interpretation and analysis by people who are frequently either unaware of their own biases or unwilling to put them aside due to their own agendas. We’re all human after all.

        • 

          It depends on context–I don’t think that the peopling of the Americas debates are as volatile as the human origins debates. Here, the genetic, archaeological, and paleoclimate hypotheses are largely concordant with each other, which is a strong argument in favor of Siberian ancestry for Native Americans. We know what issues need further exploration (it would be nice, for example, to get more genomic data from pre-10,000 YBP individuals so we can better understand the genetic diversity present during that time period), but I wouldn’t characterize the recent progressions made in this field as “sands shifting in a constant, stiff wind”.

          Out of curiosity, what biases or agendas do you believe we have in our current interpretations?

  10. 

    Hi Jennifer
    Thanks for the comments, but you should ask Bolnick et al if they have actually read Lisa Mill’s paper (I have had the PDF for several years):
    “To date, DNA has been extracted from the remains of seventy-three individuals buried at two sites exhibiting Hopewell archaeological features (the Pete Klunk mound group in Illinois and the Hopewell mound group in Ohio) Maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was analyzed, and it shows that the genetic makeup of these populations was broadly similar to other ancient and contemporary Native American populations from eastern North America (Mills 2003; Bolnick and Smith 2007)” Skeptical inquirer Jan/Feb 2012
    As I point out, the Mills study actually found 83 percent “contamination,” which she attributes to her British heritage, but somehow Bolnick et al didn’t think that was important to point out, instead claiming Mills result conform with Native American populations.
    I am currently co-authoring a book with a prominent Russian genetic scientist who taught at Harvard Medical School for more than ten years, and while my own experience with DNA evidence is as a criminal prosecutor, I can assure you that if a lab technician contaminated 83 percent of DNA samples with their own, it would be laughed out of court. Bolnick and Smith took samples from remains more than 500 miles west on the Illinois River, without any contamination at all, so if you want to make the claim that the Hopewell is “Native American,” then replicate the study, the foundation of scientific analysis (by the way, I have a BS in Engineering, a JD in Law and a Phd in Science and Public Policy), so I am well aware of the scientific method. One wonders if you are correct that there are actually other studies showing no European “contamination,” why they would cite a study that is fundamentally flawed by any scientific standard?
    Your comment “we have approximately 20 years of careful genetic analysis of multiple ancient and modern populations throughout the Americas (without contamination) in which we see ZERO evidence of European ancestry.”
    The reality. Haplogroup N is a genetic marker closely associated with the European Neolithic farmers, so it is interesting that N was found at concentrations of 2 percent(one female) in pre-Columbian Amerindian remains from central Illinois (Stone and Stoneking; American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 1993 Dec. 92 (4); 463). Kolman and Tuross have also reported some anomalies in studies of pre-Columbian Amerindian remains, which they attribute to modern contamination. One sample “had never been detected in our laboratory or in New World indigenous populations…multiple extractions resulted in the same RFLP/deletion haplotypes…Therefore, it could be proposed that this haplotypes represents a new founding lineage for the New World. However, the fact that this haplotypes is found at high frequencies in European populations (17 %) and is not found in presumably ancestral Asian populations argues against this interpretation…” In total, they say, “SEVEN different non-New World sequences were identified in the current study. They are MOST LIKELY EUROPEAN in origin and may represent a minimum of seven independent sources of contamination.” (Ancient DNA Analysis of Human Populations; American Journal of Physical Anthropology 111:5-23 (2000)).
    This may well be contamination by modern researchers, but to assume so because it “challenges historical orthodoxy” (as Kolman and Tuross put it) regarding independent development is typical of the sloppy “scholarly” work in this field. If you can cite sources of DNA remains of the Hopewell in OHIO that DON’T show “contamination,” I would love to see them because they don’t seem to be on the Internet.
    Bolnick et al: “Second, and more important, the forms of haplogroup X found in the Galilee Druze (and elsewhere in the Near East) are not closely related to the particular form of haplogroup X found in Native Americans. All members of haplogroup X share some mutations, reflecting descent from a common maternal ancestor, but other mutations divide haplogroup X mtDNAs into various subdivisions (subhaplogroups) that diverged after the time of the shared maternal ancestor (Reidla et al. 2003). The Hopewell and other Native American populations exhibit sub-haplogroup X2a, which is different from the subhaplogroups present in the Galilee Druze (subhaplogroups X2*, X2b, X2e, X2f) or other Middle Eastern populations (Reidla et al. 2003; Shlush et al. 2008; Kemp and Schurr 2010).
    If they had actually read Reidla’s study, they would discover that the X2* or X2j marker they cite may well be closely related to X2a, as Fenades et al report(I am NOT a Mormon, by the way). It has also been discussed by the genetic scientist Ugo Perego:
    The haplotypes are termed X2* which means that at the current time, the researchers involved in such studies have placed them in a paragroup, which is essentially a not-yet defined branch of the X2 phylogeny (tree). In other words, there is not yet enough evidence to conclude that the common mutation shared by the Native American X2a branch and the samples found in Egypt…and the Iranian sample…is ancestral to all of them. Researchers do not know whether they are dealing with a case of IBS (identical by state – or a recurrent mutation within the haplogroup) or a case of IBD (identical by descent — where the common mutation was inherited from a common ancestor).
    “We surveyed our Old World haplogroup X mtDNAs for the five diagnostic X2a mutations (table 2) and found a match only for the transition at np 12397 in a single X2* sequence from Iran. In a parsimony tree, this Iranian mtDNA would share a common ancestor with the Native American clade”. (The Book of Mormon and the X haplogroup….again; by Tyler Livingston on April 29th, 2010).

    So yes it may be a recurring mutation, but it may also show a close genetic relationship between the two; once again, these so-called scholars fail to mention that possible relationship.
    C Vance Haynes, described as the country’s top Paleo—Indian geochronologist who “revolutionized the fields of geoarchaeology and archaeological geology” has also suggested a European source for the Clovis, only via Siberia: “When I look at Clovis and ask myself where in the world the culture was derived from, I would say Europe.’ In an article on the origins of Clovis(not coincidently the same year as the official demise of the Clovis First paradigm), Haynes noted that there were “extraordinary resemblances between New World Clovis and groups that lived in Czechoslovakia and Ukraine twenty thousand years ago:
    “Haynes noted at least nine ‘common traits’ shared by Clovis and certain Eastern European cultures: large blades, end scrapers, burins, shaft wrenches, cylindrical bone points, knapped bone, unifacial flake tools, red ochre, and circumferentially chopped mammoth tusks. He also pointed out that an eighteen-thousand-year-old burial site of two children near Lake Baikal, in Central Asia, exhibits remarkable similarities to what appears to be a Clovis burial site of two cremated children in Montana. The similarities extend beyond tools and points buried with the remains: red ochre, a kind of iron oxide, was placed in both graves…”
    “if you want to speculate, I see a band moving eastward through Siberia, and meeting people there, and having cultural differences…”(The New Yorker, June 16, 1997, pg 78)

    It has long been suggested that the Mal’ta of Siberia had close links to the Aurignacian of western Europe, citing similar tools and art objects, but that was considered “impossible” because of the ice covered Urals. Now we find genetic evidence that there is a clear link, which may account for the “European” type of skulls found in ancient America:

    The result came as a complete surprise to us. Who would have thought that present-day Native Americans, who we learned in school derive from East Asians, share recent evolutionary history with contemporary western Eurasians? Even more intriguingly, this happened by gene flow from an ancient population that is so far represented only by the MA-1 individual living some 24,000 years ago“, says Professor Eske Willerslev from the Centre for GeoGenetics who led the study.
    “Furthermore, the team finds evidence that this genetic affinity between the Siberian boy and Native Americans is mediated by a gene flow event into the First Americans, which can explain between 14-38% of the ancestry of modern Native Americans, with the remainder of the ancestry being derived from East Asians.”
    As for Mike Waters, I think if you will actually read my post I don’t say he supports Solutrean, and I am well aware he is one of the co-authors who claims HIS study strongly refutes Solutrean. My point is that he refers to the “intriguing” site in Maryland dating back 25,000 years, more than TEN THOUSAND YEARS prior to the “Clovis” remains, so it is frankly absurd to base the ethic identities of the earliest settlers on data that is hopelessly younger than the first signs of humans in America. That’s not to mention the irrationality of assuming later cultures didn’t simply wipe out the first ones (as the Spanish did in Cuba), or that genetic drift didn’t mask earlier Haplogroups. By the way, you will also find Native traditions that their ancestors have ALWAYS been here, or that there were once black and white people living among them who were sent “overseas” but the whites didn’t stay put. Vine Deloria documented a number of these oral traditions, and was a hard core diffusionist by the way.
    Here are some Mike Waters quotes from Science (319, 1497 (2008); Ted Goebel, et al. in the Americas The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans):
    “evaluation of the existing dates and new 14C assays reveals that Clovis more precisely dates from 13.2–13.1 to 12.9–12.8 ka…In the northern United States, the Schaefer and Hebior sites (Wisconsin) provide strong evidence of human proboscidean hunting or scavenging near the margin of the Laurentide ice sheet between 14.8 and 14.2 ka… Three other sites—Meadowcroft Rockshelter (Pennsylvania), Page- Ladson (Florida), and Paisley Cave (Oregon)—may provide additional evidence of humans in North America by about 14.6 ka. At Meadowcroft Rockshelter, artifacts occur in sediments that may be as old as 22 to 18 ka (62), but it is the RECORD POST DATING 15.2 KA THAT IS ESPECIALLY INTERESTING.”[!!!]
    “The evidence for humans in the Americas even earlier than 15 ka is less secure, but recently has been presented for four sites: Cactus Hill (Virginia), La Sena (Nebraska), Lovewell (Kansas), and Topper (South Carolina). Cactus Hill is a sand-dune site with late prehistoric, Archaic, and Clovis levels. Potentially older artifacts, including small prismatic blade cores, blades, and two basally thinned bifacial points were recovered 10 to 15 cm below the Clovis level (65). Three 14C dates ranging from 20 to 18 ka are reported from the levels below Clovis… An even older occupation has been proposed based on taphonomically altered mammoth bones at the La Sena and Lovewell sites that date from 22 to 19 ka (67). Neither site has yielded stone tools or evidence of butchering; however, many of the leg bones display percussion impact and flaking, which suggests that they were quarried and flaked by humans while they were in a fresh, green state, within a few years of the death of the animals…”
    So tell me, Jennifer, how exactly does DNA evidence dating to 13,000 years ago (during the short period of time we find Clovis tools, largely in North America) reveal the identity of the peoples who MAY have inhabited the Americas TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND YEARS AGO!! like the Maryland site that Mike Waters finds “intriguing”, or do we simply ignore these sites as unproven??

    And do you realize how rare the Mitochondrial DNA is in the Anzick individual? “(mtDNA) sequencing showed substitutions that characterize the mtDNA ofAnzick-1 individual as a member of sub-haplogroup D4h3a.” Brian Kemp extracted DNA evidence from the “stickman” skeleton (dating to 10,300 years ago), found at On Your Knees Cave on Prince of Wales Island (Alaska), which shows a match to only one Asian population, the Han of China, and largely coastal Amerindian populations, but is mostly absent in the interior. (The Seattle Times; 5/8/06). This genetic marker, D4h3 is found in less than 2 percent of Native Americans, mostly along the Pacific Coast and particularly in South America; in the Old World, this marker is only found in Eastern China (Qingdao, Shandong province). This was published several years ago without all of the academic hysteria claiming Solutrean was disproved by his study. How does a rare DNA profile tell you the identity of the other 98 percent of Americans???
    Perego Et al (Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare mtDNA Haplogroups) proposed that X and D4h3a are TWO SEPARATE migrations, so is X found in the Anzick individual, or is that a SEPARATE migration to the Americas??? When you publish on remains dating to 15-25KYa, then let me know what genetic profile they have, but you don’t have actually have any from that date. And are you ignoring the Negroid skulls in South America that Neves documents. Heaven forbid that they got wiped out by Native Americans (maybe you could see if Lucia has any DNA to determine where she came from, Melanesia or Africa, or did they have Negroid skulls in eastern Asia during that period?).
    And how did people migrate from Beringia (for which there is ZERO evidence, or even plant life capable of sustaining large migrating animals or humans) more than 15,000 years ago if ice shields blocked the route into the interior? According to Mike Waters “Nonetheless, the coastal corridor appears to have become deglaciated and open to human habitation by at least 15 ka, whereas the interior corridor may not have opened until 14 to 13.5 ka. The archaeological records of both corridors are still inadequate for addressing questions about the initial peopling of the Americas; however, the presence of human remains dating to 13.1 to 13 ka at Arlington Springs, on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of California, indicates that the first Americans used WATERCRAFT.”
    In other words, Jennifer, the ancient people likely settled the Americas by boat, even before the supposed opening of the coastal corridor c. 15 KYA. They would have crossed along the margins of the ice in places, over a vast distance from eastern Asia (China, where the D4h3a comes from?) to the west coast, leaving the earliest evidence of their presence in EASTERN NORTH AMERICA. Maybe they did, but it is at least as plausible that they made the same kind of journey along the ice margins of the North Atlantic, with the same kind of boats. I really don’t know, and neither do you.

    “They haven’t produced evidence to refute the Solutrean hypothesis, says geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer of OXFORD university, a leading expert on using DNA to track ancient migrations. “In fact, there is genetic evidence that only the Solutrean hypothesis explains. “ I think your pronouncing this study (as Michael Waters also did in similar terms) as the “final shovelful of dirt” on the European hypothesis is typical on the sort of wild claims that “scholars” make in this field. My Russian genetic scientist friend and I were laughing about this study when it came out, and the plethora of bogus claims about it, including yours.
    My advice as a lawyer is that you may want to keep your quality of proof outside of a courtroom of law if you don’t want lawyers laughing at you.

  11. 
    Patrick McDonald March 21, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    It is interesting that you speak as a lawyer. Lawyers seem to be more interested in winning cases and casting aspersions on the arguments of their learned friends than they are in getting to the truth of the matter. I might point out that Stephen Oppenheimer is academically a pediatrics specialist, especially with respect to tropical disease and the role of genetic susceptibilty therein. He began a second career as a popular science writer, but not always dealing with fields in which he was academically qualified. If and when you respond to this comment, could you try to be concise and avoid all the capital letters? Capitalization does not enhance the strength of one’s arguments.

    • 

      If lawyers specialize in anything (other than law), it should be in clean, crisp, clear communication.

    • 

      Hi Patrick
      I wasn’t sure if you were referring to Jennifer or me in regard to capitalizing letters, so if you have an actual point, please include her. Most sites disable a bold and italic feature, so I capitalize for emphasis. I do come from a profession (legal) that prides itself (despite many flaws) on reaching judgments through advocacy of opposing views in open proceedings. Your profession (I assume) prides itself on character assassination and smear campaigns like the one conducted by the “Clovis Mafia” against Tom Dillehay, or Stephen Williams diatribe in Fantastic Archaeology where he describes respected scholars favoring the diffunisist position as liars, racists, frauds, demented, madness, paranoid, and rogue elephants
      In his 1994 professional historiography “Explorers of Pre-Columbian America?: The Diffusionist-Inventionist Controversy, historian Dr. Eugene Fingerhut of California State University (Los Angeles) has identified the deliberate suppression of dissenting voices as a key factor that inhibits debate over contacts between the Old World and New. Fingerhut says that “As an alternative, many archaeologists and geographers find it easier to avoid answering than to dignify diffusionists with responses. The establishment uses peer review as the means to close its journals and publishing houses to epigraphers and diffusionists, forcing them to publish their findings in obscure venues. Then professionals attack the amateurs for not publishing with peer review journals and reputable publishing houses.”
      For almost a century, Fingerhut says, “anthropologists have been critical of diffusionists and their theories. However, until recently this criticism has remained thoroughly scholarly and had not indulged in personal attacks. Since the publication of Robert Wauchope (1962), the short and pungent “Lost tribes and Sunken Continents,” the tone of inventionists’ criticism has shifted.

      Now all diffusionists are criticized as purveyors of outmoded discarded scientific theories, foolish ideas, hoaxes or frauds, regardless of their arguments…Such attacks have singled out diffusionists whose ideas are furthest from the mainstream of scholarship. Untouched by this criticism are diffusionists whose academic credentials are thoroughly acceptable and unblemished.

      Thus, he says, almost all popular diffusion ideas merged as a supposed “lunatic fringe” of archaeology. This removes the contributions of such scholars as “Joseph Campbell, David Kelley, Robert Heine-Geldern, Stephen Jett, Paul Tolstoy, Betty Meggers and Gordon Ekholm, from these inventionist critiques.” These diffusionist scholars “have excellent reputations as archaeologists, anthropologists and geographers,” and are not called by names often given to those with whom we disagree: “kooks,” “nuts” and “crazies.”

      Therefore, one finds a great hole in the anti-diffusion literature. The extremes and extremists are denounced in these inventionist books and articles as “faddist,” “cult” or “fantastic” archaeologists, and all but inventionist ideas are ridiculed. Virtually unmentioned are the academic diffusionists. One wonders where they fit in the scheme drawn by inventionists’ condemnations.”

      Here is how Bolnick et al frame this age old debate in the noted academic venue Skeptical Inquirer:
      “Today, a group of “independent scholars” (a euphemism often used to mean writers without institutional affiliation, formal training, or archaeological experience) trumpet the evidence for these ancient settlers of the Americas, disseminating their revisionist histories—not in refereed, professional journals but in popular books, magazines, and, perhaps most broadly, on websites and in cable TV documentaries.”
      To make their case, they blatantly misrepresent a Hopewell DNA study by Lisa Mills, claiming Native American genes only rather than what she wrote that 83 percent of the samples had “European” genes; her THEORY is that she was so inept at cleaning surface contamination off of teeth that she contaminated the samples with her own DNA, or lab workers (perhaps even Native Americans which would completely invalidate the study).
      They also grossly misrepresent the X2* or X2j marker that possibly links to the Native X2a, and I suspect they knew that.
      My problem with Jennifer’s work is that she (and others) are making grossly unfounded claims about the ability of genetic science to disprove the Solutrean hypothesis (“the last shovel full of dirt”) when we have no clue who may have settled those east coast sites dating to 18-25 KYA(Ten Thousand years before the Anzick 1 individual and across the continent in Montana), or even how they got there given the ice free corridor into the interior didn’t open up until 14kya, and the coastal around 15-19 kya. Since there is ZERO archaeological evidence of a Beringian migration, I have to assume a coastal expansion for those early sites, and migrating along the margins of the Ice Shield of the Atlantic seems every bit as plausible as a journey from East Asia along the coast in skin boats. There is also a “large ocean” in the Pacific. Given that there are no proposed sites on the west coast prior to 15KYA (that I am aware of), and the earliest proposed settlements are all on the east, then Solutrean may be the more plausible solution. It is an archaeological debate, not a genetic one.

      I find it particularly troubling that this grand statement of disproving the Solutrean (repeated endlessly in the popular press) through genetics is based on a very rare sub haplogroup D4h3a, found in less than two percent of modern Natives, mostly in Central and South America along the coast. Here is what the authors of the study wrote: “Since we can REJECT a tree model where the Anzick 1 individual is ancestral to both Northern Native Americans and Southern Native Americans, we suggest three main models that could explain this pattern. 1. The NA groups carry ancestry from a previously undocumented stream of gene flow from the old world.” (Nature article)
      It’s not clear to me how you get from rejecting the notion that this sub haplogroup is ancestral to North Americans to proclaiming the Solutrean hypothesis is wrong, especially given what appears to be previous sites dating to the Solutrean period. Those North American groups that the Anzick individual are least similar to are ones like the Algonquin and Ojibwa, precisely the ones carrying the X marker, believed by some scholars to be the result of a separate migration than D4h3a. It’s not that I believe that Solutrean is right or wrong, I don’t like genetic science being misused to make a case in an academic spat that closely resembles the one over Monte Verde. Water’s genetic evidence is more like a speck of dust rather than a shovel full of dirt.
      You describe the hypothesis of two respected scholars as “an embarrassment” to the profession. Here are some of your other musings on the subject: “they didn’t bring other cultural practices–such as the art found in cave paintings–with them” . In Florida, what has been described as the oldest art object in the Americas has an engraved image of a mammoth. Art historian Barbara Olins has noted the similarities between the Vero mammoth carving and those of the “Franco-Cantabrian” drawings and engravings of mammoths. Alpert, Barbara Olins. “A context for the Vero Beach Engraved Mammoth or Mastodon”. Pleistocene Art of the Americas (Pre-Acts). IFRAO Congress, September 2010)
      Your comment; “Like pointing out just how large the oceans actually are, and the fact the maritime compass wasn’t invented until around the tenth or eleventh century C.E.” Again, the 2500KM distance along the margins of the Ice Shield is far different from setting sail across the open Atlantic Ocean, and is a journey shorter than that of the Inuit to Greenland. The compass is irrelevant to cultures that navigated by wayfinding or stars. And if you are traveling west along the North Atlantic current (that I assume was there in some form) the ice is on your right and west is straight ahead.
      Your comment: “Sanford is claiming a Solutrean spearpoint was found in waters off the East Coast, but it’s far more reasonable to suggest it came from ballast from a Spanish ship.
      In 1977, the Virginia scallop trawler Cinmar, dredging the sea bottom 60 miles off the coast in 240 feet of water(an area above sea level during the Ice Age), hauled up a mastodon tusk and a dark, tapered stone blade, nearly eight inches long and still sharp. The mastodon tusk was recently dated to 22,000 years old, while chemical analysis carried out in 2011 on the European-style stone blade “revealed that it was made of French-originating flint.” David Keys; Tuesday 28 February 2012, Independent (UK)
      Did they drop their ballast sixty miles off the coast, and it fortuitously feel on top of a mastodon tusk? This and the art comparisons are of course not convincing evidence, simple tantalizing clues that hypothesis needs further investigation instead of being mocked, especially by genetic scholars who should know better. Perhaps if your profession was more open to opposing views (Stanford and Bradley say that peer review has cut them off from most publications), then you might learn something more about the debate than simply reading one sided diatribes against it.

      • 

        Perhaps instead of crying “conspiracy!” about their inability to publish in peer-reviewed journals, Stanford and Bradley should utilize the same rigorous methodology for their key data that the rest of us use? They rely on a phenetics approach for their comparisons of stone tools between Clovis and Solutrean assemblages, which is a simple (non-quantitative!) observation of resemblance and does not allow inferences of ancestral/descendent relationships. There are much better approaches for analyzing these data…why don’t they use them?

        Furthermore, their key piece of evidence, the blade that you mentioned in your comment above, was not found in situ or carefully excavated by a professional. It was dredged up by a trawler, along with that mastodon tusk. How on earth can we know that the blade and tusk were associated under these circumstances? How deep did that trawler dredge? How wide was its scoop? Where exactly were the tusk and blade in relation to one another? There are similar problems with all of the sites they use as evidence for their hypothesis. Context is critical in archaeology, and as anyone who has ever dug a site can tell you, things centimeters apart can be from extremely different time periods.

        Do you remember how difficult it was for pre-Clovis sites to be accepted by the archaeological community? The community demanded, and rightfully so, unequivocal evidence of human occupation in a securely dated context before pre-Clovis was accepted. The archaeologists were understandably frustrated, but they eventually met the standard. Why should archaeology journals make a special exception to their standards just for Stanford and Bradley?

        If Stanford and Bradley want their ideas to be taken seriously, they need to base them on better-quality data. The problem with the diffusionists is that they want to play the game, but they insist that the rules don’t need to apply to them. All fringe scientists–from creationists to Bigfoot geneticists–inevitably follow the same script. If diffusionists don’t want to be associated with fringe scientists, they need to stop using their tactics and stop seeing evidence of conspiracy every time special exceptions aren’t made for them.

        • 

          Hi Jennifer
          Thanks for the largely sarcasm free response; I obviously read the Lisa Mill study or I wouldn’t have known that 83 percent of her samples contained European genes, something Bolnick et al curiously forgot to mention in their diatribe against the “ pseudoscience” of the amateur sleuths.
          I think Bradley and Stanford are perfectly correct in crying “conspiracy” regarding the refusal of journals to even publish their work. If they are wrong, then give them a forum to hang themselves and let other professionals weigh in, as is common with any other scientific discipline outside of archaeology. Since you are “definitely no expert in lithics,” you might be surprised at what you learn. Plato defined wisdom as discovering that you didn’t know what you thought you knew. It is astonishing to me that a small group of “scholars” led by Mike Waters has been able to suppress this theory in academic publications, something Tom Dillehey experienced for two decades until the academics got their heads out of their asses and accepted his work. They also tried to destroy his career:
          “It’s not fun when people write to your dean and try to get you fired,” Dillehey recalled. “And then your grad students try to get jobs and they can’t get jobs.” Smithsonian Magazine; When Did Humans Come to the Americas? Feb 2013 by Guy Gugliotta
          For years archeologists dismissed Dillehay’s claim. At scientific conferences, he recalls, “others would be introduced as doctor this and doctor that. I was always ‘the guy who is excavating Monte Verde.’ Some people wouldn’t even shake my hand.” Even worse, the Clovis model had such a stranglehold that scientists “would dig until they hit the Clovis level and just stop.” Few looked for older bones and tools. Four or five possible pre-Clovis sites in South America were never reported because the scientists feared that doing so would wreck their reputations.5
          In your post titled Problematic science journalism: Native American ancestry and the Solutrean hypothesis, you say that “Unfortunately, several press reports chose to find controversy in a decidedly non-controversial story by giving undue weight to problematic “alternative” explanations of Native American origins, including the Solutrean hypothesis, and other “European contributions” to Native American ancestry.”
          Of course it is the authors (and you) who make this astonishingly ridiculous claim at the end of the paper, which is why the subject made the headlines in the first place.
          “In agreement with previous archaeological and genetic studies, our genome analysis refutes the possibility that Clovis originated via a European (Solutrean) migration to the Americas.”

          The truth is that the association between the Anzick 1 remains and the Clovis artifacts has always been a matter of dispute, although you would never know that from reading the Anzick 1 paper.
          HEADLINES in blog posts and popular science magazines.
          Clovis People Are Native Americans, and from Asia, not Europe
          Genetic Study Kills Off Solutrean Hypothesis
          First Ancient North American Genome Sequenced
          Analysis of 12,600-year-old DNA refutes the idea that Native Americans originated in Western Europe.
          By Anna Azvolinsky | February 12, 2014 The Scientist

          “but another theory, supported only by archaeological evidence, was that ancient Native Americans came from people who migrated across the Atlantic Ocean from Western Europe before the last Ice Age—the so-called Solutrean hypothesis. “This genetic study provides unequivocal evidence that this did not happen,” said coauthor Michael Waters, a geoarcheologist at the Texas A&M University.

          Today’s Native Americans are “direct descendants of the people who made and used Clovis tools and buried this child,” the scientists wrote. “In agreement with previous archaeological and genetic studies, our genome analysis refutes the possibility that Clovis originated via a European migration to the Americas.”
          The data imply “that Native Americans are descended from the first people that populated at the least the Lower 48 states … and all of South America,” study author Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Copenhagen
          The results overturn the idea that migrants who colonized the Americas after the Clovis people are the true ancestors to Native Americans. And the discovery “puts the final nail in the coffin” for the idea that the ancestors of Native Americans may have crossed to the New World from Europe, says study author Ripan Malhi of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
          “The new findings strongly refute that idea, known as the Solutrean hypothesis,” said study co-author Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University.
          “This shows very clearly that the ancestry of the very first Americans can be traced back to Asia,” Waters said.
          “the final shovelful of dirt” on the European hypothesis” Jennifer Raff
          “This is proof that Kennewick Man was Native American,” says archaeologist Dennis Jenkins of the University of Oregon, Eugene
          Let’s examine all of the gross misrepresentations in these stories.
          1. That the genome found here (d4h3a) found in just 1.5 percent of all Native Americans and largely in central and south America (where few Clovis tools are found) represent ALL native Americans.
          “Study author Michael Waters of Texas A&M University responds that the Anzick child’s DNA shows unequivocally that he is related to the peoples of CENTRAL AND SOUTH America.” (USA Today)
          From Supplementary material in Waters study
          “Since we can REJECT a tree model where the Anzick 1 individual is ancestral to both Northern Native Americans and Southern Native Americans, we suggest three main models that could explain this pattern. 1. The NA groups carry ancestry from a previously undocumented stream of gene flow from the old world.”
          2. That the boy is Clovis
          Here is your comment about the evidence offered by Bradley and Stanford: “the blade that you mentioned in your comment above, was not found in situ or carefully excavated by a professional. It was dredged up by a trawler, along with that mastodon tusk.” Well, you are correct, of course, that French blade may have been deposited next to the mastodon tusk 60 miles offshore at some other time, but it appears to have been sharpened by human hands, so while its not conclusive proof, it’s intriguing.
          Same question right back at you on Anzick. The truth is that the association between the Anzick 1 remains and the Clovis artifacts has always been a matter of dispute, although you would never know that from reading the Anzick 1 paper by Waters. The artifacts and remains at the Anzick site were discovered by accident in 1968 by Ben Hargis, who was using a front-end loader to load rock debris into a dump truck. After seeing a couple of the stone tools in some of the debris, he stopped working in the area, and later that day he and some friends removed all of the artifacts and human remains by hand.
          in 1968 the site was professionally investigated by Dee Taylor of the University of Montana. In his report titled “The Wilsall Excavations: An Exercise in Frustration”, Taylor wrote
          Unfortunately, the Wilsall (Anzick) material was unearthed in such a way that data from several levels could have become thoroughly mixed… It is unfortunate, too, that our amateur diggers were so thorough and succeeded in finding almost everything that was there, leaving nothing in situ…the potential importance of the site cannot be overemphasized…Had it been possible to make a definite association of the human bones with Clovis materials, it would have given archaeologists their first glimpse of the actual bones of one of these ancient hunters.
          From supplementary material in waters study
          “The 14C dates on the skeleton versus the dates on the bone foreshafts suggest that the skeletal remains and Clovis artifacts MAY NOT BE RELATED and that the foreshaft ages more accurately date the site. The 10,700 year old human remains COULD POST DATE the Clovis cache, but additional research is needed to resolve this issue. A more recent, late Paleoindian or early Archaic human skeleton was also found at the site. The association of any of the human remains with the Clovis cache is PROBLEMATIC because the site had been excavated accidentally with heavy machinery before the human bones and artifacts were recognized and later recovered at some distance from the actual site. Thus, the directly dated Clovis artifacts—the foreshafts—appear to accurately date the site.”
          Of course, if a diffusionist used a front end loader to evacuate a site and an Old World object fell out with material that was pre-Columbian, the academic community would foam at the mouth about the connection. Funny thing how Mike Waters doesn’t get the same treatment.
          From 2008 Science article by Mike Waters
          “evaluation of the existing dates and new 14C assays reveals that Clovis more precisely dates from 13.2–13.1 to 12.9–12.8 ka… The current evidence suggests Clovis flourished during the late Allerød interstadial and quickly disappeared at the start of the Younger Dryas stadial.”
          This contradicts the date range for Clovis given by the Anzick 1 paper(10,700 BCE), which even gave the 2008 paper as a reference
          From Stanford and Bradley book Across Atlantic Ice
          “There are some real problems with these two skeletons relative to their association with the Clovis Cache[Anzick]. The bone foreshafts have a good, solid Clovis age radiocarbon date of 11,040±35 RCYBP. The toddler has a date of 10,680±50 RCYBP, while the other child has a date of 8,600±90 RCYBP. The toddler’s bones are covered with red ocher, but the other child’s remains are not stained. Unfortunately, the entire site, including the artifacts and remains, was disturbed by earthmoving equipment, and the exact locations of the burials relative to the cache are unknown. It may be that they were not associated with the Clovis Cache but were incidentally buried nearby and the red ocher staining the toddler’s bones is purely coincidental.

          JENNIFER RAFF
          ” Where’s the evidence for these family camps, and why do we not see genetic traces of them in ancient or living Native Americans? Why do the few tools that Bradley and Stanford hinge their entire hypothesis on come from contexts so poorly dated that they can only be “published” in a popular book?
          Well, Jennifer, as you know, the ocean was 300-400 feet lower in the LGM than it is today, so any remains of family camps would be highly unlikely along the coastal route, especially on the ice margins known to exist in the North Atlantic from that period. As to the contexts being so poorly dated they can only be “published” in popular books, I cited the 2008 article in Science by Waters that details the east coast sites; a 2012 article in Science also quotes Waters about the “intriguing” site dating back 25,000 years in Maryland. Again, I ask the question directly, when you have good (not definitive) evidence of human habitation of north America dating as much as 12,000 years before Anzick, and across the continent, how exactly does the DNA profile of the Anzick individual prove anything whatsoever about those east coast sites?? And how does Anzick demonstrate the identity of the people at Monte Verde, which also PREDATES Clovis? And how can we assume that later migrants to the Americas didn’t stick a sharp object in the throats of the previous occupants??
          This is an archaeological debate, one that should be freely discussed in scientific journals instead of suppressed by pompous asses possessed with superior knowledge than their befuddled opponents. I am still wondering how the humans got to the east coast c. 18-25 KYA if the ice free corridors and coastal routes were supposedly blocked. They MAY have skirted the ice in skin boats, sailing south along the coast to Central America (to pass the ice covered Rockies), and up the east coast to what must have been a cold place compared to the Gulf, but as you say, where is the evidence of this journey? Buried under 300 feet of water?
          Dna is a scientific tool, not a weapon to be used as a hatchet on other scholars whom you disagree with them. Please try to take the scientific method more seriously; you might gain some wisdom in the process

          • 

            Just as a point of order, Bill Tiffee, there is no conspiratorial suppression of evidence that I’m aware of. This is normal science. It is also worth noting that Dillehay, Bradley, and Stanford are academics to the same degree as those you refer to as “pompous asses” and “academics with heads up their asses.” These are all academics involved in a scholarly debate, which will ultimately be resolved based upon evidence that stands up to scrutiny. That scrutiny is an important part of the scientific process, not an emotionally charged battle of good guys and bad guys. They are generally all good guys (and gals) interested in bettering our understanding of prehistory, and their heads are right where they should be — evaluating evidence with firm standards.

            • 

              yes, jennifer, scrutiny is part of the normal scientific process in any profession outside of archaeology. Here you have two professionals with impeccable credentials who are apparently (according to them) unable to get their theories published in academic journals where they can be scrutinized. It’s a great thing for your side of the argument if editors can simply ignore the competing evidence and refuse to publish it because it violates their paradigm. I can’t think of another scientific disipline outside of archaeolgoy where peer review would be used to deny highly respected professionals the opportunity to defend their thesis from its critics in a scholarly journal. Waters et al claiming their study disproves Solutrean is a case in point. Were Stanford and Bradley allowed to reply or are you the only one qualified to parrot their position? As for “heads up their asses,” I think the fact that it took just 20 years to accept the dating at Monte Verde, which Dillehay said was accurate all along, speaks for itself, as well as attempts to use evidence (dug up with a front loader) to prove the ethnic identity of people living thousands of years prior to that, and in many cases, particularly South America, people using “radically” different tool technologies. I think you can look forward to the book I am coauthoring with my Russian friend, the genetic scientist who taught at Harvard Medical school for more than a decade and has several best sellers in Russia. He agrees with me (and sent your article to me) that this is one of the worst examples of the misuse of genetic science he has ever seen, and the book will document plenty of that, especially the public fiasco over the “Clovis” (if that is what he really is) boy.

              • 

                First, note that I am not Jennifer. Second, could you please fill me in on what specific journals refused to publish their work?

          • 

            You’re welcome, Bill. I’m sorry that you feel as though you can’t participate in this discussion without name calling. As David says, this is normal science. Archaeology is a tough profession, and it does require a rather thick skin to vigorously debate these issues without taking it personally.

            Just for the record, I’m not an editor of a journal, and I’ve never been asked to review any of Bradley and Stanford’s manuscripts. But they are most welcome, as is anyone, to come and discuss their ideas here in the comments section of my blog.

            Why does the issue of association between the Anzick tools and the skeleton trouble you? I, too, have heard that the tools may not have been “buried with” the skeleton, but that’s not exactly germane to the genome’s significance. His skeleton was directly dated and falls within the Clovis period. So I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here.

            Yes, I’m well aware that the D4h3a haplogroup is quite rare among modern Native Americans. It appears to have been more common among the oldest Native American populations (According to both published and soon-to-be published data).
            The fact that haplogroup frequencies and geographic distributions have changed over time is not surprising or troubling–quite the opposite. You might benefit from reading this on the subject: http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2014/03/21/003517

            I agree that much of the reporting on this issue has been sloppy (that’s what this blog post is about, after all). Anzick-1 certainly wasn’t the “ancestor of all Native Americans”, but rather has been shown to be closely related to them.

            Anzick-1′s genome does not show any signal of European introgression. The Solutrean proponants predict a significant European genetic contribution along with the technological diffusion, so we would expect to see evidence of that. That’s why, from a genetic perspective, Anzick-1 undermines Solutrean. But it’s important to recognize (you won’t, but I’ll repeat it for anyone else who reads this) that decades of research have shown this–Anzick-1′s genome is merely the latest piece of evidence.

            Again, let me urge you not to be too impressed by a person’s university affiliation. Your “Russian friend” may have taught at Harvard once, but then again David Reich (one of the geneticists whose evidence is staunchly at odds with the Solutrean hypothesis) is also currently a Harvard researcher. Lining people up by credentials and affiliation may be something you do in law, but it’s considered rather silly in the scientific community, and it doesn’t help your case here. We are all university affiliated, and we all have PhDs here.

            I will be most interested in reading your book whenever it comes out. Are you going to have it peer-reviewed?

  12. 

    My apologies to Patrick; I attributed some of randy Wright’s quotes to him. My bad.

  13. 

    Very well done, and it’s refreshing to read a treatment of the journalistic tendency to elevate a fringe idea to equal status for the sake of “balance” that is specifically focused on New World colonization/Paleoindian issues. The Solutrean hypothesis is just one of several subjects (e.g., claims for very early sites, pre-lithic technologies) that benefits from this coverage, while having very little credence in the professional community.

    As an archaeologist specializing in Paleoindian lithic technology, I can attest to some general similarities between Clovis and Solutrean stone tools and the techniques used to manufacture them, but I would put little weight on those similarities indicating any direct relationship. One practical flaw in Bradley and Stanford’s larger scenario is that they argue for both a direct connection between Clovis and Solutrean based on technological attributes, and an ancestral pre-Clovis period on the East Coast that is quite different from Clovis. Taken together, this would mean that Solutrean pioneers would have reached the Americas, modified their lithic technology for a few thousand years, and then reverted back to a more Solutrean-like technology during the Clovis period. Convergent evolution as a result of adapting to similar environmental contexts and economic problems seems a much simpler explanation for the general similarities between Clovis and Solutrean (which in my opinion, are not all that compelling in the first place).

    Just wanted to add my two cents. Nice job.

    • 

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, David! I was hoping that an archaeologist would join the discussion, as I’m definitely no expert in lithics.

    • 

      David,
      Your analysis of Stanford and Bradley’s hypothesis does not automatically reduce it to “a fringe idea” that should be tossed on the garbage heap of worthless science. It is exactly this sort of dismissive, superior, often hostile attitude that causes the public to view the discipline of archaeology so negatively. I respect your right to disagree with another scientist’s hypothesis, but it is impossible to respect the almost knee jerk dismissiveness and disgust expressed by far too many, including professionals who should know better, simply because of differing views.

      • 

        You’re correct that my consideration of the Solutrean hypothesis doesn’t render it a fringe idea. The fact that it is an idea that exists outside the mainstream consensus of scientists in all disciplines (including archaeologists) working on the colonization of the Americas, and finds support mainly among the public (many of which support it zealously and uncritically) that renders it a fringe idea.

        My response is hardly a knee-jerk reaction. It’s the result of years of considering this idea, and years of conversations with other professionals (including Stanford and Bradley) about the idea and the evidence for it. As far as hostility and disgust for anyone presenting a differing view, you might take a look at your own reaction to my rather innocuous post. Not having described you or others in this debate with insulting adjectives, and not having insulting the discipline in which you or others have made a career, I don’t think it’s very fair to paint me as the one with a hostile attitude.

        I have nothing personally against the idea; I’m not emotionally involved in whether or not it’s true. It just isn’t supported by the preponderance of evidence. I have nothing against continuing to evaluate the idea as new evidence comes to light, and am open to changing my perspective if new evidence comes out in favor it. But currently the “mainstream” ideas better explain the archaeological (and genetic and linguistic and paleoenvironmental) evidence on hand, and that’s the only reliable standard I know to proceed from.

        • 

          Seconded. I’ve outlined in several places (including my piece in Nature) exactly what kind of evidence would be needed to win my support for Solutrean. I encourage proponents to go look for it! I have no problem changing my mind if the evidence warrants it. But until this evidence is found, I’m not going to accept the Solutrean as a viable alternative hypothesis–it’s simply not supported by the existing evidence.

          (David, if you’re going to the SAAs and have any free time, shoot me an email?)

        • 

          I am curious David, if you have had any training in the history of science, and how some of our greatest scientific advances have come from outside of the “mainstream.” The Max Planck Society has had 17 Nobel laureate since 1948, and in their essay the Max Planck recipe for Success, Jorgen Reen and Hoorst Kant have some words of wisdom about relying on the mainstream consensus: “To identify and resolve the productive internal conflicts between knowledge systems, it is often necessary to adopt a different perspective than that which first triggered the conflict. Such perspectives tend to originate on the periphery of the mainstream rather than at the core.”
          There are countless examples of theories once considered “fringe,” but to throw out a few: continental drift, the existence of troy, that humans share Dna with Neanderthals, heliocentrism, Norse settlements in north America, the Big Bang theory, and yes, the much maligned pre-Clovis theories of Dr. Tom Dillehay, whose vilification (even attempts to get him fired) is a permanent stain on your profession.
          Dillehay is now a prominent archaeologist at Vanderbilt University: he “thinks the Solutrean link is at least as plausible as the idea of skirting ice sheets in boats along the Pacific coast to America.” (Science, 19 Nov. 1999; 1468). “I think it’s feasible,” says Dillehay, “The evidence is building up, and it certainly warrants discussion.” (Washington Post, feb. 29, 2012)
          You, on the other hand, engage in the typical mud slinging of your profession, relegating Dillehay, Stanford and Bradley to the realm of “fringe” science, unworthy of consideration apparently, or ridiculed in professional journals (ICE Age Atlantis; Straus et al). Why is peer review being used to deny Bradley and Stanford the ability to develop their thesis?
          Name calling is a popular sport among your mainstream, such as Stephen Williams of Harvard (Fantastic Archaeology) who must “perforce” use terms such as “pseudo-science, crank scientist, and fake or fraud”(at 9) to describe scholarly advocates of diffusion, for these descriptions are “part of the regular vocabulary of other scholars such as Martin Gardner and Sprague de Camp, whose work in this general field I esteem and hope to emulate…” Williams also uses the term “crank.” The Oxford English Dictionary, he says, defines crank as “a person with a mental twist, an eccentric; especially a monomaniac.” The word monomaniac is derived from the Greek mania or madness, and is defined as “a mental disorder characterized by irrationality on one subject.” These scholars, says Williams, “exhibit a tendency to paranoia…
          Fantastic Archaeology, says Williams “was reviewed in a number of major publications, including Science, Scientific Monthly, and Nature. All the reviews were favorable, and none suggested that I had treated any of the people discussed therein with sarcasm…I did not degrade them personally.”
          The pejorative and personally demeaning terms used by Williams to describe his academic foes included liars, racists, frauds, demented, madness, paranoid, and rogue elephants, so if I have exhibited an admittedly uncivil attitude on this site, I thought name calling was a perfectly acceptable means of communication, and just wanted to dish out the same kind of childish namecalling about the “Pseudoscientific” claims over the use of genetic science in the Solutrean debate.
          I am also wondering what exactly the “mainstream” view on settlement is now; is it the Beringian land migration for which there is ZERO archaeological evidence? The coastal route by boat extending to 19kya that Fagundes Et al support for their one migration theory? Is it the two migration theory (D4h3a and X) supported by Torroni, David Smith and Perego? Is it the end of Clovis at 10,800 BCE supported by Waters, or at 10.600 BCE supported by Waters? Is it the 200 year total duration of Clovis that Waters supports, which is a little strange because the clovis tools buried with the Anzick child are 300 years older than the child? Is it the consensus that no Clovis type tools have been found in the supposed areas in East Asia where the first Americans supposedly migrated from?
          And do you ever consider the possibility that new ethnic groups arriving to the Americas simply wiped out the first one? Genocide is not a twentieth century invention, but I can’t think of a single DNA study that even addresses this issue, and given the diversity of the early skulls, it certainly needs to be. And if the east coast sites are viable dates to 18-25 KYA, then exactly how did early Americans get to Northeastern America if the land routes were blocked by ice?
          As someone who studies science, I view archaeology itself as a “fringe” science because herds of academics are always basing conclusions on the basis of circumstantial and often highly disputed evidence that rarely proves anything conclusively. Ancient DNA studies are consistent with an Asian source for the period of 12,000 years ago, but X remains a mystery because of its total absence in Asia, as is the lack of A-D haplogroups in 25 percent of northern Ojibwa tested. If those east coast sites prove viable, then their presence there at such an early date is not easily explained by the Asian migration theory.
          The history of the early peopling is a complete mystery, both before (despite the mainstream consensus), and after the Monte Verde discoveries Perhaps if the scholars would treat it as such, and respect the views of others instead of denigrating them publically, we might all learn something.

  14. 
    Deborah Bolnick March 24, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    I would like to address Bill’s assertion that my coauthors and I misrepresented Lisa Mills’ dissertation work on the Hopewell site in Ohio because we “forgot” to mention that “83% of her samples contained European genes”. We did not “forget” to mention this. Rather, we excluded some of Lisa’s results as laboratory contamination — as Lisa herself did — and we did so in line with accepted standards for ancient DNA research. To clarify: what Lisa actually found was that many of her DNA extracts contained two mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences (i.e., two sequences were present in the same DNA extract). Whenever this happened, one of the sequences in the DNA extract was always identical to Lisa’s own mtDNA sequence (haplogroup H). The other sequence belonged to haplogroup A, B, C, or D — the haplogroups known to have been present in the founding Native American population, and which are derived from Asia.

    Because all organisms inherit their mtDNA only from their mother, we exhibit only a single mtDNA sequence in our cells (except in rare cases of heteroplasmy). Human cells never contain two very different mtDNA sequences. The existence of two very different mtDNA sequences in a DNA extract, then, indicates that the extract became contaminated with DNA from an external source. Because one of the two sequences in the Hopewell extracts matched Lisa’s own sequence, she was almost certainly the source of contamination. This inference is confirmed by the fact that she also obtained her own mtDNA sequence from the negative controls (also known as extraction blanks). Negative controls are control reactions: they contain all of the chemicals used in the DNA extraction process, but no skeletal material. Negative controls should therefore contain no DNA and yield no mtDNA sequences. If they do, it indicates that contaminating DNA was somehow introduced in the lab. Because Lisa obtained her own mtDNA sequence from many of her negative controls, it demonstrates that this particular sequence was introduced through contamination in the lab. She then performed additional analyses to exclude or reduce the signal of this contaminating sequence, in line with accepted ancient DNA research practices, and excluded those sequences from her results section. My coauthors and I followed her lead in this regard because it is clear that the haplogroup H sequence observed in many of her DNA extracts was contamination.

    Lastly, I want to reiterate that if the Hopewell really had recent European ancestry, they would show multiple European mtDNA sequences, not just Lisa’s mtDNA sequence. Human populations are not monomorphic; diverse mtDNA sequences exist in every human population. If there had been a prehistoric population movement directly from Europe (or the Near East) to the Americas that contributed ancestry to the Hopewell (or other Native Americans), we should see multiple European (or Near Eastern) mtDNA sequences in ancient remains that meet stringent authentication requirements. But we don’t. Nor have we see any evidence for such a scenario in other regions of the genome, as the Anzick study reported.

    • 

      Well, yes, you did misrepresent the Mill’s DNA study that found European “contamination” in 83 percent of the samples because you neglected to mention that fact, or your THEORY that Mill’s “almost certainly” contaminated the samples with her own DNA. I can’t find any mention of Haplogroup H in her essay (I assume this is the Cambridge Reference sample), or a discussion of any plausible means of how she could possibly manage to follow the extensive contamination protocols (suit, washing the teeth in bleach, hydrogen peroxide and irradiating the samples for 20 minutes to “destroy any possible contamination.”), and still contaminate the vast majority of samples. How is that even possible to do?
      And how do you know that ANY of the samples are valid Native sequences given that Native Americans could have handled those remains (along with Europeans) at any time in the past? Who knows when that “contamination” was deposited on the teeth. You are practicing the same kind of pseudoscience you accuse the amateurs of. Any serious scholar, given the many problems with her study, would have chucked it in the trash and started over again instead of citing it in a national publication as “proof” of the Native American ancestry of the Hopewell. I assume there are plenty of Ohio Hopewell remains to be studied, so the question is, why hasn’t someone done this yet given the plethora of claims that the Ohio Hopewell were “white.”?
      You say “If there had been a prehistoric population movement directly from Europe (or the Near East) to the Americas that contributed ancestry to the Hopewell (or other Native Americans), we should see multiple European (or Near Eastern) mtDNA sequences in ancient remains that meet stringent authentication requirements.” I wish you or somebody on this site could explain why Torroni et al “found that 25% of the northern Ojibwa mtDNA’s did not belong to haplogroups A-D.” ? Am J Hum Genet. Dec 1998; 63(6): 1852–1861. mtDNA haplogroup X: An ancient link between Europe/Western Asia and North America. I guess if you’re saying the European mtDNA should show up in Native groups (assuming genetic drift doesn’t mask it or they weren’t slaughter en masse) then why doesn’t the A-D markers that appear in 98 percent of Native appear in the northern Ojibwa? And why doesn’t X show up in eastern Siberian (genetic drift???)
      I am also curious why you claim that the link of X2a to X* or X2j has been rejected by a strong body of evidence given the possibility, as a number of scholars have pointed out for a decade (Reidla, Fernades, Perengo) that X2j and X2a share a common mutation, possibly recurring. Am I missing something here?
      “The interpretation of X2a as evidence of a European genetic contribution is not accepted by geneticists specializing in the study of Native American origins. This was carefully considered as a hypothesis a decade ago by our field, and rejected based on a strong body of evidence. Many of us are mystified that it’s recurring now, given that it was thoroughly debunked so long ago.”
      My fascination with the ethnic identity of the Hopewell stems from my Cherokee grandmother, Sarah davis (her father Willie is on the Dawes row), and well established modern Cherokee traditions that they intermarried with people with blond hair and blue eyes thousands of years before the Vikings (presumably the Adena/Hopewell). It seems that you and your profession don’t respect widespread Native American traditions about the Ohio/Kentucky Hopewell being “white,” and that they were “exterminated” by the Natives (which may account for the missing Dna) so perhaps you can direct me to a valid study of those (Ohio) remains that don’t contain frankly comical ineptness on the part of the researcher.
      . In her book “Native Americans, Archaeologists, and the Mounds,” Barbara Mann claims that “Traditional Natives are outraged by the cavalier assumption that Celtic and Native American cultural ideas are interchangeable and may, therefore, be used to explain each other—another conceit of the New Age movement…The rationale behind the urge to connect Celts and Natives is the racist assumption that they existed at the same primitive stage of history and, therefore, mirrored one another’s development.” (at 209).
      But it is Native oral traditions themselves that support this connection, as Mann has documented herself: “Another troublesome aspect of mound tradition needs to be spoken of aloud, although many are hoping that, if we all just ignore it, it will go away. The sticking point concerns the persistent traditions describing the Mound Builders as ‘white.’ …In 1817, for instance, a ‘Thomas Bodely’ surfaced, quoting ‘Indians of different tribes, north west of the Ohio’ as saying that:
      they had understood from their old men, and that it had been a tradition among their several nations, that Kentucky had been settled by whites, and that they had been exterminated by war. They were of the opinion that the old fortifications now to be seen in Kentucky and Ohio, were the productions of those white inhabitants. Wappaockanita, a Shawnee chief, near a hundred and twenty years old, living on the Aulaise River, confirmed the above tradition.
      James McCulloh, who recorded this, went on to cite several ‘old Indians’ in conversation with this or that settler, variously affirming ‘that the western country, and particularly Kentucky, had once been inhabited by white people, but that they were exterminated by the Indians,” a tale reiterated by John Haywood. Chief Tobacco told George Rogers Clark that Sandy Island was the site of the conclusive battle pitting ‘white’ against ‘red,” adding that, “in the Indian language,” Kentucky meant “the River of Blood.” Hayward recorded something the same, placing the final battle “at the falls of the Ohio,” from whence the “Indians drove the aborigines into a small island below the rapids.”
      In 1842, Thomas Hinde reiterated the tradition, saying, the “Mohawk Indians had a tradition among them, respecting the Welsh, and their having been cut off by the Indians, at the falls of the Ohio.” The litany continues. The Shawnee Chief Wynepuehsika (“Cornstalk,” ca. 1720-1777) told Alexander McKee (1735-1824), himself Shawnee, that “Ohio and Kentucky had been once settled by white people; who were possessed of arts which the Indians did not know, and that after many sanguinary contests they were exterminated.”
      In 1904, John Patterson Maclean used these Native oral traditions as conclusive evidence that Native traditions were completely untrustworthy. Mann says that a century later “it is still tempting for those of us who know the history of Mound Mania to shy away from these traditions as either major leg-pullers or wild western interpolations. They might have been something of both. But the traditions are there, from many sources, and some modern keepers (oral traditionalists) accept them at face value:
      Freeman Owle, for example, a North Carolina Cherokee who was ‘born and reared on the Cherokee Indian Reservation,’ treats the tradition of ‘white people’ as genuine. In a 1996 recital of Cherokee mound tradition, he stated that ‘thousands of years’ before the Vikings, the ancient Cherokee met ‘blond-headed and blue-eyed’ peoples. Owle does not accept the tradition that the Cherokee ‘annihilated’ these inhabitants of the Ohio valley, stating that they intermarried with them instead.” (“Native Americans, Archaeologists, and the Mounds”).

      tIrradiated for 20 minutes to
      This latest skirmish in the Solutrean war is taking place mainly in the media because since 2006, Stanford and Bradley have published little in scientific journals to support their idea. In part, Bradley concedes, that’s because most of their papers “haven’t passed peer review.”

    • 

      I just want to say thank you to Dr. Deborah Bolnick for explaining the contamination. Also a big thank you to Dr. Jennifer Raff for this blog.

  15. 
    Patrick McDonald March 25, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Well, I’m glad that’s settled!

  16. 

    FmcolumbiMarch 24, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    First, note that I am not Jennifer. Second, could you please fill me in on what specific journals refused to publish their work?

    rom Science; M a r c h 1 5 , 2 0 1 2
    “This latest skirmish in the Solutrean war is taking place mainly in the media because since 2006, Stanford and Bradley have published little in scientific journals to support their idea. In part, Bradley concedes, that’s because most of their papers “haven’t passed peer review.”
    I only know what I read, but I suspect Stanford and Bradley would love to be able to publish in scientific journals given their impeccable credentials and the plethora of misrepresentations of their work, including that of Jennifer: “Why do the few tools that Bradley and Stanford hinge their entire hypothesis on come from contexts so poorly dated that they can only be “published” in a popular book?” I am sure that in a scientific journal they would be able to set the record straight about these misrepresentations, or the absurdity of trying to link though genetics, populations that MAY have been here 25,000 years ago, with one that was here 10.700 years ago (a hundred years after Clovis according to Mike Waters). Why is peer review denying them the opportunity to publish, or were they lying to the Science writer about it? I have seen a lot of negative comments along the lines of Ice Age Atlantis (Straus), or that it is an embarrassment to the profession regarding solutrean. I don’t think there is a dime’s worth of real evidence about how or when the first Americans arrived on either side, and real scholars don’t jump to conclusions on a very limited amount of evidence.
    The “Clovis” boy (if that is really what he is) only proves that a very rare haplogroup (D4h3a) was present in 10,700 BCE, as does the Stickman skeleton, and neither is ancestral to north Americans, as Waters et al note. X and D4h3a are separate migrations if you believe Perengo et al, so the attempt to link the two in a SINGLE site is highly tenuous. Anything else is wild conjecture that doesn’t meet acceptable standards of proof in any scientific discipline.

    Jennifer says “The Solutrean proponents predict a significant European genetic contribution along with the technological diffusion, so we would expect to see evidence of that” And why is that? I have never seen where Bradley and Standford have used a genetic argument, and if the “proto” Clovis tools diffused from 18-25 KYA (the Solutrean era), you have no idea if this was a demic (genetic) or cultural (adaptation) diffusion of the technology(genocide is also another well documented human proclivity), so it is simply preposterous to make this link over a period of more than 10,000 years, especially in the terms that Waters et al do: “In agreement with previous archaeological and genetic studies, our genome analysis refutes the possibility that Clovis originated via a European migration to the Americas.” This is not a shovel full of dirt on Solutrean, as Jennifer puts it, but a speck of dusk that got into the eyes of science writers to cloud their vision of what this study really proves (ie. The identity of the single individual in that grave)
    If you are going to claim, as Jennifer does, that somehow the Clovis tools found at Anzick are from the Clovis era(that Waters says ended a hundred years before the date of the boy), then at the minimum you need to link the boy to the tools found at the site. But here’s the problem:The bone foreshafts have a good, solid Clovis age radiocarbon date of 11,040±35 RCYBP (ie during Clovis and before the infamous black mat) while the toddler has a date of 10,680±50 RCYBP,. The last time I could count, that’s about a 300 year difference in dates, well outside the margin of error, so you really have no idea if the boy if from the Clovis culture at all.
    and if you follow the bitter debate about a comet striking North America at the beginning of the Younger Dryas, supposedly wiping out most of the Clovis, then the D4h3a individual may be simply another group that migrated to a largely empty continent, and settled at the site. For a profession that claims to pride itself on issues like the context of how the remains were removed and dating, you and others on this site seem to accept this dig by a frontloader without the qualifications found in Waters et al, conveniently buried in their supplementary material : “The 14C dates on the skeleton versus the dates on the bone foreshafts suggest that the skeletal remains and Clovis artifacts MAY NOT BE RELATED and that the foreshaft ages more accurately date the site. The 10,700 year old human remains COULD POST DATE the Clovis cache.” And if they do postdate Clovis, then how do you possibly make the link with the east coast cultures from 10,000 years before, perhaps carrying the X marker?
    This is junk science, pure and simple. When the science advance sufficiently to test the DNA of Kennewick and the numerous skeletons claimed to be Europoid in nature (or African for that matter), then you can make scientific claims about the nature of their ethnic identity. Until then, you should focus on the archaeological debate, and give the scientists a forum to make their point

  17. 
    Patrick McDonald March 25, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I’m astounded that so capable an attorney as yourself has so much spare time to dabble in fields outside your province. Have you considered providing advice to particle physicists or neurosurgeons?

    • 

      He also appears to believe himself an engineer as well, according to the comment below.

      • 

        Well, Jennifer, I have a BS in Industrial Engineering, a JD in Law and PHD (Abd) in Science and Public Policy; after working for more than a decade as a criminal prosecutor and an attorney for a Fortune 500 company, I decided to leave the legal scumbags behind and pursue other ventures, which is why I have so much time to post on your delightful theories of the early peopling of the americas(and fill me in, is anthropology in like the Sociology Department? just asking)

    • 

      I think particle physicists and neurosurgeons actually have scientific standards in their profession that they abide by, so no need for me to set them straight about any delusional thinking; yours seems to think that publishing a Dna study (and promoting it in nationwide magazines) where 83 percent of the samples are (allegedly) contaminated with the researcher’s own DNA is an acceptable practice, or misrepresenting the association of Clovis tools dating to THREE HUNDRED YEARS prior to human remains, or neglecting to mention that site was dug up with a frontloader. How about linking a non Clovis skeleton with populatons dating to PERHAPS 12,000 years prior to that time? Did they teach you about the difference between demic and Cultural diffusion, or is that just a nagging little detail you forgot to mention? And could somebody PLEASE ask Mike Waters when Clovis really ended, was it 12,800 BCE or 12,600 BCE; he seems to have Jennifer’s shovel full of dirt in his eyes and must have confused the 8 with a 6, and since he claims Clovis was only around for 200 years, it makes a difference. Just asking as a lawyer, you know, since you guys have the phds

      • 
        Patrick McDonald March 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

        Bill, are you still practicing? I can’t find you as a US attorney in my Google Search.

        • 

          Threw my bar license in the trash years ago; I did debate JC Watts live on the Today show in 1994, when I ran against him for Congress, so maybe you can pull that up from archives (i think it was nov 4 or 5). The editor of the Claremore Daily Progress (will rogers home) once urged the public to “slam the door” in my face (before they even met me!)for leading a grass roots campaign to get rid of the grocery sales tax, and noted I was pretty much a blood sucking attorney, so maybe they have that on file (1997). Other than that, you have to go other places to dig up some dirt to shovel on me.

    • 

      Snarky, nothing-burger sarcasm devoid of any counterpoints never did squat to advance one’s argument, Paddy.

  18. 

    The debating term for this is “spreading;” also known as “the Gish Gallop” – stacking so many contingent arguments, kinda-truths, and unstated assumptions on top of each other that they cannot be addressed by the respondent (or are not worth the time it would take).

    • 

      Hey anonymous, thanks for the info; never heard of a gish gallop before, but it seems it’s archaeologists who use the creationist scientific standards. If more than one point at a time is too complex for you; here’s a little summary.1. DNA studies where the researcher “contaminates” 83 percent of the samples with their own are junk science that should never be published or cited, just replicated to see what went wrong 2. If you are going to claim, as Jennifer does, that Stanford is relying on early dates for human occupation in North America that only appear in “popular” books, then try reading the literature (ie waters 2008 paper in Science). 3. If you are going to try to definitively link populations dating back 25KYA to a skeleton dating to 10,600 BCE, consider alternative possibilities such as cultrual diffusion of the Clovis package from one group to another before you jump to any conclusions about Solutrean. 4. If you are going to try to link the toddler to Clovis tools, make sure the tools are not dated THREE HUNDRED years before the bones, which date to AFTER the period waters says Clovis disappeared. I don’t want to exhaust you with more than four points, so if you have any comment, I think these are simple enough to respond to.

    • 

      Exactly right, Anonymous, and it’s nice to see someone use some of those “needles” I alluded to earlier. That one is particularly sharp and pointed, but Barrister Tiffee has earned his stiletto wound (“Galloping Gish” is worth Googling, folks; I’d seen it before but hadn’t looked at it in-depth). And while it seems everyone is bragging about their PhD’s, I think I deserve a small bravery medal for being willing to go toe to toe with my modest BA and some grad work in clinical and behavioral areas. Particularly since what I see is a lot of creative writing–my undergrad emphasis–and I’m going to be snarky enough to point out the issue isn’t “diffusionism,” but rather “hyper-diffusionism.” Nobody reasonable doubts, for example, that maize originated in Mesoamerica and eventually its modified descendants found their way to the northeastern United States. The hyper-diffusionists like Sorenson and Johannessen insist, however, that sculptured murals in India are proof of ancient transoceanic commerce, never mind that the relative size of the ears and kernels “depicted” are far larger than contemporary hybrids within the alleged time frame. I bring that issue up because if B. Tiffee is going to cite Mormon sources in his “Hyper-diffusionist Apologetics,” then he is going to see his claims quickly tossed into the wastebasket of circular reasoning charges. And certainly the Soutrean Hypothesis is in the hyper-diffusion category.

      And incidentally, I do maintain regular communication with a couple of PhD’s who are authentic scientists; one of them, Simon Southerton, is a geneticist who’s made matters really uncomfortable for those advocating non-Siberian origins of Native Americans. Simon regularly sought my input on the following–he’s a quick study in writing skills, incidentally–and though his contribution to the “Encyclopedia of Human Migration” reflects the synthesis from a large number of sources, some of my views and sources influenced the final outcome. He personally “likes the coastal migration hypothesis,” but I have my doubts, but not to the point of outright rejection. I’m also doubtful that there are many familiar with the issues who will find much to object to in the following:

      http://simonsoutherton.blogspot.com/2013/07/encyclopedia-of-global-human-migration.html

      The larger issue, however, is how these “Gish techniques” also invite analysis of the cognitive/behavioral processes that produced them. Even the Freudians (ancestral to today’s “Cognitive School”) recognize that “obsessive-compulsive” factors are at work; witness the the sheer volume of essentially unrelated and unsupported “shotgun” claims that might work to sway a jury, but leave many of us unmoved.

      And as clinicians know, obsessive-compulsive thought patterns are paradoxical in nature; there appears to be an over-abundance of thought and the appearance of extensive and meticulous reasoning, but in reality, there’s a subtle “delusional” process operative in that certain areas are not ventured into, so called “obsessive pay-offs.” The “outcomes” are simply too uncomfortable to consider, and that factor is operative whether one is a “rigid creationist” or simply clinging too tightly to a particularly appealing point-of-view.

      Denial in a nutshell, folks, and it has obvious survival value.

      • 

        I definitely give you credit and appreciate you participating in this discussion! Your point about the distinction between “diffusionism” and “hyper-diffusionism” is excellent.

        I haven’t read Southerton’s book, but it looks quite interesting and I’ll have to check it out–thanks for mentioning it. For what it’s worth, I know a devout Mormon who’s one of the leading researchers on Native American prehistory and migrations (Dr. Ugo Perego). I respect him tremendously. His writing indicates that doesn’t have any problem at all with the church’s teaching on Native American origins and the genetic/archaeological evidence, and he does extremely good work in our field.

        I’ve encountered the Gish Gallop approach a few times here on the blog, but mostly from anti-vaccine activists. It’s a pretty fascinating strategy.

        We’ll have to agree to disagree about the coastal migration :)

        • 

          Thanks, Jennifer…

          I admit to a strong bias regarding boats, and as one with “decided psychodynamic tendencies,” I’m sure it relates to my childhood even though my grandfather had a nifty aluminum fishing craft. In lieu of the Bible my non-religious parents had these wonderful encyclopedias with lots of information about dinosaurs. But later I didn’t see them in the story of Noah, and I can’t imagine getting a T-rex or a brontosaurus onto any watercraft… There was also that traumatic time I had swimming in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington. As an Eagle Scout, trained in lifesaving, I still nearly drowned when the tide came in. As I said, those oceans are fearsome beasts, particularly the further north one travels.

          I kept quiet on the autism/vaccine blog even though I’m “up to speed” on that subject (my daughter’s older brother has Asperger’s); not vaccinating children is silly, but I also don’t think Thimerosal has any place in them, and I note it’s still present in some flu vaccines (although obviously some form of preservation is a necessity, and anything that kills potential pathogens may have unintended consequences). It’s also clear that the incidence of autism disorders is probably on the rise, and there’s clearly a need for a lot more research.

          I sent Simon a note on your blog a few weeks ago, and I’ll send him another heads up. He may have something to say about Perego (who now works for the LDS Church’s educational wing).

  19. 
    Patrick McDonald March 26, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Anonymous-you and Bill Tiffee have the same avatar. Are you the same person? If not, who are you?If so, why the disguise?

    • 

      If it’s the “spreading” post you’re referring to, that’s me (first it posted as David Kilby – me – and then mcolumbi with the same avatar, and then the last one didn’t log me in at all and I didn’t take time to try to figure out why. Not purposefully trying to be incognito.). My reference to spreading was in response to bill tiffee’s post(s).

  20. 

    Now I see. I fear I must concur with your analysis of Mr. Tiffee’s musings.

  21. 

    MORE JUNK SCIENCE FROM WATERS AND BOLNICK
    Right back at ya Jennifer; have you ever tried to prove anything in a court of law using DNA? Your profession doesn’t seem to have any accepted standards of proof; my profession has an extremely complex body of law regarding the rules of evidence and how you prove it. If a lab tech contaminated 83 percent of samples with their own DNA, it would never see the light of day in court of law, and you would get a lecture from the judge on how stupid you are if you even attempted to introduce compromised evidence. Your profession has no qualms about misrepresenting DNA to national audiences that doesn’t measure up to accepted scientific standards.
    A case in point; Bolnick claims that Lisa Mills “almost certainly” contaminated the samples with her own DNA. That’s a reasonable hypothesis, but I don’t see any explanation offered of how this occurred (assuming that she followed the contamination protocols) given that she presumably followed the same procedures that Bolncik and Smith did when examining the remains in Illinois, where no contamination was found. In a court of law, if you attempted to claim the samples were “almost certainly” contaminated by the researcher, you would be met with the immediate objection that you haven’t offered any rationale explanation of how this occurred, or that they were other plausible alternatives such as contamination by other researchers that wasn’t removed, in which case there could be Native American contamination as well, or that the Hopewell DNA profile was of a mixed race population of Native Americans and Europeans(the same thing Native Americans have been telling us for THREE HUNDRED YEARS and counting!!!)
    From an engineering standpoint, if you get bad results, you go back to the drawing board and troubleshoot the problem; replicated the study if see if you get the same results and try to figure out why. In your profession, you just explain away systematic “contamination” as if that’s what really occurred because it violates your assumptions about the early peopling of the Americas. Is there a problem with testing these remains again, perhaps recovering DNA from inside the bone?
    Another case in point; you and your fellow travelers have been crowing in the national media about how Water’s asinine “Clovis” study is putting a “shovel full of dirt” on the Solutrean hypothesis, somehow drawing a genetic link between populations that MAY have lived on the east coast as much as 12 thousand years before the “Clovis, ” and that an extremely rare sub haplogroup D4h3a is ancestral to ALL Native Americans, not just those in Central and South America. Given the rapidity of the spread of Clovis technology, and its effectiveness in killing large prey, it is just as feasible to assume it spread by cultural diffusion rather than demic. Water et al cite Fagundes (2008) for the one migration model, but one of the co-authors is David Glenn Smith of UC Davis, who in 2013 teamed with Perego and Toroni to postulate TWO SEPARATE migrations by D4h3a and X.
    I say Water’s ASININE study because he misrepresents his own studies(perhaps he get dust in his eyes from the shovel full of dirt):
    From Anzick letter: “Clovis, with its distinctive biface, blade and osseous technologies, is the oldest widespread archaeological complex defined in North America, dating from 11,100 to 10,700 14C years before present (BP) (13,000 to 12,600 calendar years BP)1,2. Citation number two is to Water’s 2008 paper in Science (319, 1497 (2008); Ted Goebel, et al. The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans in the Americas)
    “Radiocarbon dates obtained over the last 40years from Clovis sites across North America suggested that the complex ranged in age from 13.6 to 13 ka (2); however, evaluation of the existing dates and new 14C assays reveals that Clovis more precisely dates from 13.2–13.1 to 12.9–12.8 ka (47), a shorter and younger time span for Clovis than earlier thought. The current evidence suggests Clovis flourished during the late Allerød interstadial and quickly disappeared at the start of the Younger Dryas stadial”
    Here is his first citation (from 2007) “minimum time range is 12,920 to 12,760 calendar yr B.P. Regardless of the exact calendar dates, the 200- year duration for Clovis remains secure because
    the floating dendrochronological sequence provides calendar-year separations between two 14C-dated sites.

    Let’s see, Clovis ends in 12,600 BCE in his 2014 Anzick letter, and 12.9-12.76 KYA in the articles he cites as evidence, which conveniently date back to the age of the human bones (12.7-12.5 KYA).
    The bone foreshafts have a solid Clovis age radiocarbon date of 11,040±35 RCYBP. The toddler has a date of 10,680±50 RCYBP, or THREE HUNDRED YEARS LATER!!!
    From supplementary material buried online
    “The 14C dates on the skeleton versus the dates on the bone foreshafts suggest that the skeletal remains and Clovis artifacts MAY NOT BE RELATED and that the foreshaft ages more accurately date the site. The 10,700 year old human remains COULD POST DATE the Clovis cache” The association of any of the human remains with the Clovis cache is PROBLEMATIC because the site had been excavated accidentally with heavy machinery before the human bones and artifacts were recognized and later recovered at some distance from the actual site. Thus, the directly dated Clovis artifacts—the foreshafts—appear to accurately date the site.”

    If you intentionally misrepresent citations in a court of law, you may get slapped with a contempt of court citation; in archaeology, nobody bothers to look up sources.
    If you are going to try to make the demic diffusion argument, linking these remains to earlier populations, then you need to firmly link the remains to the Clovis tools, and it’s HIGHLY UNLIKELY that they were linked.

    In the Anzick letter: “The human bones date to 10,705 +/-35 14Cyears BP (approximately 12,707–12,556 calendar years BP) and were DIRECTLY associated with Clovis tools…Here, approximately 100 stone tools and 15 osseous tool fragments that are technologically consistent with artefacts of the Clovis complex were found in direct association with the partial fragmentary remains of an infant child (Anzick-1). The human remains were found directly below the Clovis artefacts.”

    More comedy; the remains were dug up with a FRONTLOADER. In 1999 Larry Lahren interviewed two of the discoverers at the site. The belief that the human remains were located beneath the Clovis artifacts is based entirely on these recollections of events that had taken place THIRTY ONE YEARS LATER.

    Here’s a real world scenario: toddler dies, and rather than leaving their dead baby laying around, the parents dig a deep hole and cover him with the material they dug up, the tools which date to THREE HUNDRED YEARS prior to the boy, and firmly located in the Clovis realm, which Waters claims lasts only TWO hundred years.
    Perhaps, Jennifer, if your profession was exposed to some real science, and people who are capable of making logical conclusions and looking up sources, then there would be no need for lawyers to visit your site to educate you about the details of the study that is being parroted all over the media as somehow proving something about Solturean. Junk Science is the same in every profession.

  22. 

    Bill,

    I understand that you have strong feelings about these issues, and that you are deeply invested in your perspective, but I request that commenters here try to maintain some basic civility. Please respect the fact that the scientists who you are attacking are doing careful work, trying to extrapolate the most reasonable and parsimonious explanations from the best data available. Speaking as a geneticist, if one were to find unequivocal evidence for non-Siberian derived alleles within an ancient (securely dated) genome, I would certainly be open to alternative explanations than the current consensus model. But according to the rigorous standards of our field, no such evidence has yet been found.

    Given that we seem to be talking past one another, I see no reason to further discuss these points that you are making repeatedly.

    • 

      um mike whatever, I think you will find some non Siberian (European) alleles in the Mal’ta boy, which came as a big surprise and recently, so until we find X in east Siberia instead of the Middle East, I will go with what the evidence shows, that humans likely appeared in northeastern north america at the time of the Solutreans; mike water’s sloppy confusion of remains of bones and tools and dates is just bad science, as is trying to link that DNA to populations more than 10,000 years before. I think you might want to read Bolnick et al and their condensending essay about the “Pseudoscience” of others, or Stephen Williams book about the liars, racists, frauds, thiefs, etc and some of the other vile descriptions of diffusionists before you gripe too much about civility in your profession (I can think countless others, such as ICE AGE ATLANTIS (Straus) to respond to Stanford in a professional journal). No one wants to respond to my points, so I will bid you a (unfond) farewell until next year when our book comes out

      • 

        Those alleles in the Mal’ta boy weren’t really surprising, Bill, given that they occurred 25,000 years ago and were apparently the result of ancient Europeans moving east (The New World and the East coast of the Americas are to the west, BTW, but there’s this big ocean in the way) and then adding their genes to the admixture of people who later entered the Western hemisphere via the Beringia land bridge. We could already infer that much from the presence of the X2a mtDNA haplogroup in North America which Perego et all showed entered here at roughly the same time as the other four mtDNA haplogroups (and another, “M,” also common in Asia, was found in some pre-Columbian remains in Canada).

        Hyper-diffusionists do have a tough time of it, but whether the scorn is deserved or not is their problem, not the ones doing the smackdowns. Check out, for example, the number of reviews of Sorenson and Johannsen’s work versus the praise heaped on Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”

  23. 
    David Colquhoun March 28, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    It’s taken me a while to get round to reading this carefully. It’s admirably clear, and totally convincing.

    The problem of false balance that you describe is world-wide. The report written by UCL geneticist, Steve Jones, for the BBC Trust documented it carefully for the BBC in his report on “Review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science”. You can see the report at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/editorial_standards/impartiality/science_impartiality.html

    I think that much of the problem arises from the fact that very few journalists have any science education, so they are unable to judge what the consensus is. I’ve had several debates on radio and TV with homeopaths who are given equal time to spread their quasi-religious belief in the efficacy of medicines that contain no medicine. Sigh!

  24. 
    Patrick McDonald March 29, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Is it the media’s job to inform or to entertain? For every documentary on Global Warming there are hundreds of ads urging us to seek happiness through car ownership.

  25. 
    wandering Nish April 4, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Hmm, interesting. Native guy from Canada here, years ago after reading for myself what the ‘big deal’ is over the Solutrean hypothesis I also saw right through it and never bothered it with it again until recently. The guy that made the whole thing up is an old redneck who thinks he’s a bit of a hotshot, I’ve seen his videos and knew it was all nonsense.

    I thought about making a huge post to show bits of the “unsavory tradition” and how they relate to the hypothesis but I won’t. The newest/newer dna analysis techniques now are completely rewriting world history while also stamping out all these crazy beliefs such as the Solutrean hypothesis. All the hypothesis is really based on anyway is some spearheads that merely have the same general pointed shape. The story to support it is really quite an amazing stretch too, although considering Columbus “discovering America” is accepted I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Not sure if you’ll reply but it’s not everyday a ‘random Native person’ gets to talk to an actual geneticist who studies ‘Native stuff’ but I have a few simple questions. Newer research apparently shows the Bering land bridge was a very large and surprisingly hospitable place and we or our ancestors might’ve been living there for around 10,000 years.

    My questions are: did we ‘turn Native American’ while living on the land bridge or was it once we got ‘stranded’ in the Americas? Also why do some people say a singular migration while others say multiple migrations?

    I somewhat understand it, in order to ‘stay Asian’ we would’ve had to have kept ‘breeding’ with Asians. If we were on the land bridge, at that point we would’ve been over four thousand miles away from ‘Asia’ and we would’ve been breeding within our own “genome” if we were relatively isolated (right?). So I guess I’m asking, could we possibly have become genetically Native American somewhere around 15,000 to 20,000 BC?

    • 

      Hi wandering Nish, I’m so sorry I didn’t reply sooner (I got a crazy busy with a different thread). I don’t have a simple answer to the question of when people “turned Native American”, because of course identity isn’t simply based on genetics (but I don’t need to tell you that, obviously!). If you mean “When did we develop those genetic variants that are unique to Native Americans?”, then I can give you an estimate based on the molecular clock: somewhere between 26-18,000 years ago, when your Beringian ancestors became isolated from Siberian populations (pretty close to your estimate). That’s our current model, based on our best estimate for mutation rates and our best understanding of the archaeological record.

      A single migration was the hypothesis for many years, until finer-resolution genetic analyses revealed enough structure within Native American populations to suggest that several migrations from a Beringian parent population was more realistic.

      As to “where”–you’ve hit on one of the biggest unsolved questions in our field. Many researchers are trying to figure out where in Beringia this population may have resided. I can’t give you an answer to that yet, but stay tuned!

      Does that answer your questions?

  26. 

    Instead of waiting until the pain becomes unbearable and
    then going to a physician, they will seek a holistic professional who can recognize latent
    diseases while the patient is still feeling great. This unique type of
    investigation, this stirring of the mud,is called mindfulness,
    and is most effectively accomplished immediately after
    coming out of ‘fixed concentration,’ which is that full,
    bright calm that is experienced when our meditation object disappears and
    after the visions and voices of ‘threshold concentration’ cease.
    That means that although there is another world,
    it will be so entirely different that we cannot ever speak of it.

    • 
      Patrick McDonald June 25, 2014 at 12:07 am

      And just how do these “holistic professionals” (definition please) discern these problems? If we cannot speak of it, how do we know this other world exists? It sounds a little too Deepak Chopraish to me. Also,why is the Lee County Business Directory sending us messages of advice? Could it be part of the same scam reported in the press?
      “The Lee County Sheriff’s Department is warning businesses of a scam involving an international business directory.

      People are calling businesses, churches and nonprofit groups, claiming to be a directory company verifying addresses by phone or fax to confirm existing phonebook listings, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

      Once the businesses verify the information, the company signs them up for services and sends several invoices demanding payment or threatening legal action. The directories are never distributed or promoted as promised, but are simply websites with various business listings, the Sheriff’s Department reported in a news release.

      The scammers are based internationally, but use post office boxes or mail drops to appear as if they are in the United States.” (http://www.saukvalley.com/2014/03/05/lee-county-sheriff-warns-of-scam/a7qzqg8/)

      I would guess “yes”!

      If your business has been targeted, call the Sheriff’s Department at 815-284-6631.

  27. 

    THE first to people ComeThe People went to West Eurasia to Siberia and had indoeuropean blood. But over 5 thousand years you have genetic drift. Any way
    we are all related to two people on earth. Who is first is a man and a women just
    like Europe The proof is we are all related and own the land because we are men and women not Native Americans and Europeans..

  28. 

    I find the data of this infant incredible and educational. But I do think that this is a small part of the picture. We already know from earlier findings such as Spirit Cave Man, the Lovelock NV mummies, Kennewick Man, and hundreds of other 9,000 – 15,000 year old American mummies that Europeans (Caucazoid) people were here during this time period. We have actual biological evidence of these people. So to say that because we found one mummy that has direct lineage from Asia, that no one else but the Asians were here at that time, doesn’t make sense. We can see from tribes in Canada that the Haplogroup X genome is highly present, and shows direct correlation to the European decent. We know from author Sara Winnemucca Hopkins, that when her people entered the Humboldt valley in northern Nevada, that they had came upon a tribe that had already established themselves. They were referred to “as the red headed giants”. When the remains were uncovered in a bat cave in Norther Nevada in the 1910′s, the mummies had specifically Caucazoid anatomy and skull structures.
    Testing on Kennewick Man shows definitely that this was a Caucaziod and not a Asiatic or Eurasian person.

    What I find concerning, is that every time remains are found, a Native American tribe files a law suit, and takes the remains before they can be studied. This is a major disservice to science.

    This is a video that I made to tie all of these pieces together.

    I offer up the research that I have found on this subject.

    Sara Winnemuca Hopkins “Life Amongst The Paiutes”

    http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/winnemucca/piutes/piutes.html

    “Solutreans Are Indigenous Americans”

    2013 North American Tribal Agreement proposal

    The Legend of the Red Headed Giants

    VERY Large Caucasian Skulls from Lovelock – Nevada State Museum

    Spirit Cave and Lovelock Nevada Mummies – CAUCASIANS IN ANCIENT AMERICA

    Clovis Native Americans

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clovis

    Solutrean Native Americans

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solutrean

    Si-Te-Cah Native Americans

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Si-Te-Cah

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Long time passing… | Rturpin's Blog - April 8, 2014

    […] did man reach the New World? Jennifer Raff debunks some of the genetic claims behind the Solutrean hypothesis. Though that leaves the allegedly […]

  2. What an ancient Paleoindian girl tells us about Native American prehistory « Violent metaphors - May 15, 2014

    […] that mean they had different ancestry from later inhabitants? Geneticists have long insisted that all Native Americans derived from a single source population in Beringia, including the Paleoindians. And the recent sequencing of the Clovis-period infant, Anzick-1 […]

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