The First Americans Offers
New Insights Into Prehistoric Americans

California Academy of Sciences Releases New Book On
First People to Colonize Western Hemisphere

SAN FRANCISCO (September 3, 2002) - Who were the first people to arrive in America? How did they get here? How did they live and what languages did they speak? The old answers to these and others questions are being challenged by a wealth of new knowledge about the prehistoric people who first colonized the Americas. The First Americans: The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World, a new book from The California Academy of Sciences, offers compelling insights into one of the most controversial areas of prehistory.

In The First Americans, 16 noted anthropologists, linguists and other scientists offer their insights on subjects ranging from an exploration of environmental conditions on the ancient land bridge that once connected Siberia to Alaska, to an analysis of the hundreds of languages spoken by the first people to live in the Americas. Through careful analysis of evidence gathered from across the Western Hemisphere, the authors provide readers with a view into a forgotten world.

"Grounded in facts and science, The First Americans provides us with a firm foundation to imagine the lives of the very first people to set eyes on the New World," said Dr. Nina G. Jablonski, editor of the The First Americans and Irvine Chair of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences. "Filled with new knowledge from several disciplines, The First Americans brings us closer to knowing how our predecessors arrived and how they handled the challenges and riches of their new habitat."

Aimed at both lay readers and experts, The First Americans provides a concise review of recent advances in the study of the peopling of the Americas. Readers will learn that half of the world's families of languages are native to the Americas; that recently unearthed fossil teeth provide information crucial to determining where the first Americans came from; and that the first Americans could possibly have arrived here in boats.

The First Americans is available in hardcover and paperback editions and may be purchased by emailing the California Academy of Sciences at or by contacting UC Press at 1-800-UC-BOOKS or visiting It is published by the California Academy of Sciences and distributed by the University of California Press. The book consists of the edited and peer-reviewed proceedings of a symposium held in 1999 at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco with the support of The Paul L. and Phyllis Wattis Foundation.

About the Academy
The California Academy of Sciences is the oldest scientific institution in the West, founded in 1853 to survey the vast resources of California and beyond. Today it has grown to be one of the ten largest natural history museums in the world, with important exhibitions about natural sciences and human cultures. The Academy offers hundreds of classes, lectures and performances each year for its 57,000 members and nearly 800,000 annual visitors.

The Academy is also an international center for scientific research and is at the forefront of efforts to understand and protect the diversity of life on earth. A staff of over 50 professional educators and Ph.D.-level scientists (supported by more than 100 Research and Field Associates and over 300 Fellows) work in the fields of anthropology, botany, entomology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology and geology, mammalogy and ornithology. Academy scientists go on dozen of expeditions each year to locations around the world, conducting groundbreaking environmental research and adding to the Academy's collections of nearly 17 million scientific specimens.

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