Late Pleistocene Colonization of North America from Northeast Asia: New Insights from Large-Scale Paleogeographic Reconstructions

  • E. James DixonEmail author


Advances in large-scale paleogeographic reconstruction define physical and environmental constraints relevant to understanding the timing and character of the first colonization of the Americas during the Late Pleistocene. Diachronic mapping shows continental glaciers coalesced in central Canada during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) 20,000–14,000 years ago while unglaciated refugia existed along the Northwest Coast. The Bering Land Bridge connected Asia and North America until about 10,000 years ago when the two continents were separated by rising sea level. This visual analysis from large-scale synthesis of recent geological and environmental research establishes timelines for biotically viable colonization corridors connecting eastern Beringia to southern North America and provides insights into probable Paleoindian origins and subsistence strategies.


Paleoindian migration Late Pleistocene archeology NW coastal migration North American archeology Fluted projectile points 



Ronald Stauber, Office of Contract Archaeology, University of New Mexico, integrated the Ehlers and Gibbard (2004), Manley (2002), and other databases to generate the paleogeographic reconstructions illustrated in this chapter. Kelly Monteleone, Michael Grooms, and Mark Williams provided valuable graphic and technical support. I thank the Harvard Australian Studies Committee, Iain Davidson, Noreen Tuross, and Landon T. Clay for the invitation and support to participate in Colonizing New Worlds. The constructive reviews of this manuscript by Mim Dixon, Iain Davidson, Daryl Fedje, Michael Wilson, and an anonymous reviewer were very helpful and greatly appreciated. This manuscript was originally published in Quaternary International and is reprinted here with permission. Selected bibliographic references have been updated in this publication.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Department of AnthropologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueNew Mexico

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