5 Dumb Myths About Prehistoric Times That Everyone Believes

#2. The First Native Americans Migrated from Siberia

Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images

The Myth:

Some 13,000 years ago, a bunch of Siberia denizens (whom archeologists would later dub the Clovis culture) suddenly noticed that they were living in freaking Siberia. They gathered together and, in search of a better life, embarked on a grueling mass migration across the future Bering Strait, which at that point was a land bridge to the uninhabited continents beyond. Having successfully completed their dangerous journey, they spread out all over the land. Over time, they set up tribes and nations, becoming true natives of the continent and generally living happily ever after.

oftimeandtheriver.org
"It's a good thing that giant arrow was pointing at where to go."

That is, until some weirdly dressed European dudes sailed along millennia later and dubbed the place "America." Things went downhill for them shortly after that.

The Reality:

A single group of people braving a dangerous journey to a pristine, untouched paradise land is a fine image and a touching story. Unfortunately, that's all it is. In reality, migrations are rarely performed by a single group of people traveling in a neat, possibly arrow-shaped formation. They trickle in from all directions and cultural backgrounds over a long period of time.


Many were lost along the way.

Damning archeological evidence against the "Clovis First" theory is piling up on a weekly basis. Take Monte Verde, a 15,000-year-old Stone Age site in southern Chile that shows that the area was populated almost a thousand years before the ice covering the Bering land bridge had receded enough for human beings to cross the area. Or the Paisley Caves, where scientists have found tools that date back hundreds of years before the Clovis folks and feature a completely different design.

In fact, the whole assumption that the settlement of America was done by a single cultural group from Siberia is more or less based on the distinctive pointed Clovis tools found in a New Mexico town called Clovis (archaeologists are not particularly inventive when it comes to naming things). The strange thing is that researchers have found no link between the tools of ancient Siberians and the Clovis people. In fact, the oldest Clovis tools have been found on the East Coast of the USA, not the west, as would be expected from people who came in from Siberia.

Jim Wileman smithsonianscience.org
"Well, the East Coast is usually ahead of the curve on most important things." -The world's douchiest anthropologist

However, the tools share surprising similarities to those made by a group called Solutreans, a European tribe who used to live in Spain and southern France. According to Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institute, Solutreans might have been able to reach the Americas by paddling along the coasts of Atlantic ice sheets 22,000 years ago, and thus got a massive head start in the settlement of the continents. We're actually kind of enjoying this theory, if only because it would bring a deliciously M. Night Shyamalanian twist to the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire: They were raiding their own people all along.

#1. The Missing Link Is Still Missing

Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

The Myth:

The puzzle of human evolution is tragically incomplete: One giant, curiously Chewbacca-shaped piece is missing. This halfway-house hybrid between monkey and man is dubbed "the Missing Link," and it's a constant hot potato in evolutionary discussions.

blogs.houstonpress.com
"'sup?"

Science's inability to find the missing link has led to all sorts of crazy theories, from Bigfoot insanity to the creationist camp's claims that the lack of this one damn apeman somehow manages to completely disprove evolution.

The Reality:

There are lots and lots of missing links. We've found a bunch of them already, and more are turning up all the time.

Here's how it works: Look at the image below. At which precise point does the color stop being entirely red and become completely blue?

Of course, it's impossible to locate the actual point of change. That's how evolution works, too: It's gradual. People tend to think evolution hops from one stage to another in giant leaps, "March of Progress" style. But the process is actually far less dramatic. Our journey from blobs of primordial slime to people was long and slow, and even the changes that actually include monkey-human hybrid features are decidedly undramatic because they differ so little from the stages we already know about.

The current Big One in the missing link game is the hybrid between two man-apes, the monkey-like Australopithecus and the more human Homo habilis it eventually evolved into. A version of said missing link was found in 2010. Another variation of the theme popped up in 2013, in the shape of some hybrid earbones. These hybrid discoveries are known as transition fossils, and more are discovered all the time. And since the human evolutionary tree features plenty of transitions, anything even remotely connected with it can be (and usually is) touted as "the Missing Link."

FilmMagic/Getty Images
Again, like Jose Canseco.

A fossilized lemur? Fuck yeah, a missing link! An ancient monkey skeleton? That's another one! It's almost like the true missing link is in the average person's ability to understand how evolution works.


Steve would like to thank Professor Kim Consroe, who in between escaping large boulders and studying the intricacies of ancient molars found the time to help fact check this article.



For more reasons you shouldn't believe everything you're told, check out Your Mom Lied: 5 Common Body Myths Debunked and 6 Things From History Everyone Pictures Incorrectly.

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Extra Credit: Cracked has more historic misconceptions to bust -- have you ever heard of the screaming mummies? They're significantly creepier than the King Tut variety. If your interest in myth-busting is a little more contemporary, read our article on myths about America's founding. Ancient Indians TOTALLY did battle with Vikings, and it was exactly as badass as you're imagining. Don't stop proving your history teacher wrong with that article -- click here to shed light on more lies about our past.

We have some bad news: the real velociraptors were knee-high and feathered, the whole 'lemmings commit suicide' myth was started by Disney and your favorite book sellers are now taking pre-orders for a text book written and illustrated entirely by the Cracked team! Hitting shelves in October, Cracked's De-Textbook is a fully-illustrated, systematic deconstruction of all of the bullshit you learned in school.

It's loaded with facts about history, your body, and the world around you that your teachers didn't want you to know. And as a bonus? We've also included the kinkiest sex acts ever described in the Bible.

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