Were Hominins in California ∼130,000 Years Ago?

Todd J. Braje, Tom D. Dillehay, Jon M. Erlandson, Scott M. Fitzpatrick, Donald K. Grayson, Vance T. Holliday, Robert L. Kelly, Richard G. Klein, David J. Meltzer, Torben C. Rick

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


In a controversial study published in Nature, Holen et al. (2017) claim that hominins fractured mastodon bones and teeth with stone cobbles in California ∼130,000 years ago. Their claim implies a human colonization of the New World more than 110,000 years earlier than the oldest widely accepted archaeological sites in the Americas. It is also at odds with genetic and fossil evidence for the dispersal of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) out of Africa and around the world. Recognizing the incompatibility of their claim with extant knowledge, the authors suggest that the Cerutti Mastodon locality might have been created by an as-yet unidentified archaic hominin, for which no fossil, archaeological, or genomic evidence currently exists in northeast Asia or the Americas. We assess Holen et al.’s (2017) supporting evidence and argue that such extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which their paper and supporting materials fail to provide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-202
Number of pages3
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017


  • Cerutti Mastodon
  • epistemology
  • peopling of the New World

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Palaeontology


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