Cultural learning and the Clovis colonization of North America
: The timing of the earliest colonization of North America is debatable, but what is not at issue is the point of origin of the early colonists: Humans entered the continent from Beringia and then made their way south along or near the Pacific Coast and/or through a corridor that ran between the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets in western North America. At some point, they abandoned their Arctic-based tool complex for one more adapted to an entirely different environment. That new techno-complex is termed "Clovis"; its dispersal allows us to examine, at a fine scale, how colonization processes played out across a vast continent that at the time had, at best, a very small resident population. Clovis has figured prominently in American archeology since the first Clovis points were identified in eastern New Mexico in the 1930s. However, the successful marriage of learning models grounded in evolutionary theory and modern analytical methods that began roughly a decade ago has begun to pay significant dividends in terms of what we know about the rapid spread of human groups across the last sizable landmass to witness human occupation.