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The vastness of the North American continent, and the variety of its climates, ecology, vegetation, fauna, and landforms, led ancient peoples to coalesce into many distinct linguistic and cultural groups.This is reflected in the oral histories of the indigenous peoples, described by a wide range of traditional creation stories which often say that a given people have been living in a certain territory since the creation of the world.Now, the scholarly study of pre-Columbian cultures is most often based on scientific and multidisciplinary methodologies.
Indigenous American cultures continue to evolve after the pre-Columbian era.
The Paleo-Indians were hunter-gatherers, likely characterized by small, mobile bands consisting of approximately 20 to 50 members of an extended family.
These groups moved from place to place as preferred resources were depleted and new supplies were sought. These included distinctive projectile points and knives, as well as less distinctive implements used for butchering and hide processing.
However, older sites dating back to 20,000 years ago have been claimed.
Some genetic studies estimate the colonization of the Americas dates from between 40,000 and 13,000 years ago.
Over the course of thousands of years, paleo-Indian people domesticated, bred and cultivated a number of plant species.