Peter Leach’s publication in Science

Congratulations to Peter Leach for his Science paper!

Paleoindian settlement of the high-altitude Peruvian Andes

Kurt Rademaker, Gregory Hodgins, Katherine Moore, Sonia Zarrillo, Christopher Miller, Gordon R. M. Bromley, Peter Leach, David A. Reid, Willy Yépez Álvarez, Daniel H. Sandweiss

Study of human adaptation to extreme environments is important for understanding our cultural and genetic capacity for survival. The Pucuncho Basin in the southern Peruvian Andes contains the highest-altitude Pleistocene archaeological sites yet identified in the world, about 900 meters above confidently dated contemporary sites. The Pucuncho workshop site [4355 meters above sea level (masl)] includes two fishtail projectile points, which date to about 12.8 to 11.5 thousand years ago (ka). Cuncaicha rock shelter (4480 masl) has a robust, well-preserved, and well-dated occupation sequence spanning the past 12.4 thousand years (ky), with 21 dates older than 11.5 ka. Our results demonstrate that despite cold temperatures and low-oxygen conditions, hunter-gatherers colonized extreme high-altitude Andean environments in the Terminal Pleistocene, within about 2 ky of the initial entry of humans to South America.