The Role of Beringia in the Global Dispersal of Modern Humans

Speaker Series 2015:  “The Role of Beringia in the Global Dispersal of Modern Humans”

Beringia is a geographic area that surrounds the Bering Strait, Chukchi Sea, and Bering Sea, and includes parts of Russia and Alaska. It is most famous for being the location of an ancient land bridge that connected Asia with North America at various times during the Pleistocene ice ages.  Although modern humans occupied western Beringia before the beginning of the Last Glacial Maximum, as part of a broader colonization of northern Eurasia that began 50,000–45,000 years ago, they were forced into areas of isolation (refugia) in central Beringia at the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum some 30,000 years ago.

In his talk, Dr. Hoffecker discusses the “Beringian Standstill Hypothesis,” an idea that proposes that when climates warmed and coastal and interior ice sheets in North America retreated, the western hemisphere was rapidly settled by people that occupied these refugia, and who had been genetically isolated for thousands of years.

 

The Royal Tyrrell Museum’s Speaker Series talks are free and held every Thursday from January to April 2015 at 11:00 a.m. in the Museum auditorium. Please visit the website for more information about upcoming speakers.

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