The mainstream scientific theory that North and South America’s indigenous cultures came across the Bering land bridge from Asia at the end of the last ice age appears to be in jeopardy, with the growing acceptance of archaeological finds across the two continents that point to a much earlier period of habitation. A recent paper published regarding an underwater sinkhole in Florida that contains human-made artifacts dating back to 14,550 years ago — over a thousand years before humans were even supposed to be in Alaska — is one such example, although the acceptance of these ideas has been slow.

Currently under 30 feet of water in Florida’s Aucilla River, an archaeological sinkhole dubbed the Page-Ladson site, was discovered in 1983 when former Navy Seal Buddy Page spotted it during a dive. The site was explored and documented by Page and a team of archaeologists, where they found stone tools and a human-worked mastodon tusk that dated back 14,500 years. But, when their findings were published, the data was rejected by the mainstream scientific community — nobody could have been in that region that long ago.

According to one of the original investigators, Jessi Halligan, "you were a complete quack if you thought there were pre-Clovis sites in the Americas. You were clearly presenting flawed data in some way, shape, or form." North America’s Clovis culture was a prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture, supposedly the first on the continent, that was assumed to have first appeared on the continent somewhere between 11,000 to 11,500 years ago.

In the ensuing decades, the culture within archaeology has become more accepting of these earlier timelines, as more evidence of earlier habitation of North and South America has come to light. Examples, such as evidence that Chile’s Mote Verde may have been occupied by humans as far back as 18,500 years ago, and genetic evidence that Siberian and North American peoples went their separate ways over 24,900 years ago, are slowly digging away at the old paradigms

"The new work at the Page Ladson site reflects superb archaeological scholarship, that complements and appreciably expands upon the extensive excellent work conducted and reported there previously," explains David Anderson, of the University of Tennessee’s department of anthropology. "The new artifacts, dates, and other lines of evidence provide a compelling case for early human use of the site and, by extension, the region."