People lived in chilly Andean highlands year-round over 7,000 years ago

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 18:02 in Paleontology & Archaeology

A summer hike at 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) is challenging given the lack of oxygen, frigid temperatures, and exposure to elements. Now imagine living year-round at high elevation without your high-tech gear or modern foods. Scientists debate whether early human populations could have done so, but a new UC Davis study confirms that intrepid hunter-gatherers — women, men, and children — called the Andean highlands home over 7,000 years ago. The team of archaeologists and geochemists marshaled five lines of scientific evidence to arrive at this conclusion. Perhaps most striking, the isotope chemistry of ancient human bone reveals a distinct signature of permanent high-elevation occupation. The paper, published this week in June in the Royal Society Journal, Open Science, is co-authored by Randall Haas, a University of California, Davis, assistant professor. The study is available at “High-elevation environments are challenging for human survival, which is why the Andean and Tibetan highlands were among...

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