Coming to America

When did the first settlers migrate from Asia to the New World? Archaeologists now say it may have been tens of thousands of years earlier than once thought.

KNOW-IT-ALLS ARE fond of pointing out that the only true Americans are the descendants of the diverse tribes found by Columbus and Cortes when they first arrived in the New World. That's wrong, of course. Even North and South American Indians had immigrants for ancestors: northeastern Asians who crossed from Siberia to Alaska in prehistoric times across the bridge of land that then spanned the Bering Strait.

But when did these adventurous souls reach Alaska? What kind of people were they? How fast did they spread down through the Americas? For decades, archaeologists felt sure they knew the answers: the first...

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