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New Signs In Brazil That Humans Landed In Americas Long Before We Thought

Prehistoric painting in Serra de Capivara National Park
Prehistoric painting in Serra de Capivara National Park
Fernando Tadeu Moraes

PIAUÍ - A scientific article by French and Brazilian researchers brings major new findings to the discussion on the date humans arrived to the American continent. It analyzed three archeological sites in Piauí, in northeastern Brazil, and shows evidence that the region was inhabited by humans 22,000 years ago.

The researchers' discoveries, published in the "Journal of Archaeological Science", are yet other empirical evidence against the so-called "Clovis first" paradigm, the oldest theory of the occupation of the American continent.

Proposed by U.S. archeologists in the 1930s, the model affirms that the first inhabitants walked from Asia during the Ice Age some 13,000 years ago - when there was a land bridge between the two continents - and they spread through the Americas.

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Brazil's Serra da Capivara National Park - Photo: Otávio Nogueira

The excavations were carried out between 2008 and 2011 at Toca da Tira Peia, in the Serra da Capivara National Park, in Piauí, and 113 stone artifacts were retrieved from five layers of soil.

"We found tools made from materials that cannot be found nearby. So we believe they were chosen, brought, crafted and used by humans," says Gisele Felice, of the Federal University of Vale do São Francisco.

The authors of the article believe that this means humans lived in that part of the world at least 10,000 years before previously believed.

Translation by Thomas Muello

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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