All this new evidence, the authors report, has caused most experts in the field to abandon the idea of the Clovis people as the first to arrive. Most now believe that the first people to arrive did so by boat rather than walking, and they did it by following the coasts, not through the interior. This would have been possible, the authors note, because of what has come to be known as the kelp highway—kelp forests growing just offshore. All that kelp, it has been noted, would have provided a rich habitat for sea creatures upon which hearty travelers could feast.
The authors conclude by noting that too little research has been done offshore—the early travelers would have been residing mostly on land that is now covered by the sea due to higher worldwide ocean levels. If the scientific community truly wants to learn more about human migration to the Americas, they suggest, more work needs to be done offshore.
Explore further: New evidence — Clovis people not first to populate North America
More information: Todd J. Braje et al. Finding the first Americans, Science (2017). DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5473
For much of the 20th century, most archaeologists believed humans first colonized the Americas ∼13,500 years ago via an overland route that crossed Beringia and followed a long and narrow, mostly ice-free corridor to the vast plains of central North America. There, Clovis people and their descendants hunted large game and spread rapidly through the New World. Twentieth-century discoveries of distinctive Clovis artifacts throughout North America, some associated with mammoth or mastodon kill sites, supported this “Clovis-first” model. North America’s coastlines and their rich marine, estuarine, riverine, and terrestrial ecosystems were peripheral to the story of how and when the Americas were first settled by humans. Recent work along the Pacific coastlines of North and South America has revealed that these environments were settled early and continuously provided a rich diversity of subsistence options and technological resources for New World hunter-gatherers.