Paleo-Indians in the San Juan Basin: A paleontological perspective
— F. Michael O'Neill


A large gap exists in our knowledge of the Pleistocene and Holocene cultural and faunal record in the San Juan Basin. Information concerning the activities of Paleo-Indians in the basin is often based on inference from other areas. Evidence found elsewhere suggests that they exploited large migratory herds of now extinct megafauna (e.g., mammoth, horse, bison and camel). Additionally, the paleontological record of the Pleistocene and Holocene is virtually nonexistent. Some evidence suggests that mammoth, horse, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and muskox were the major herbivores present in the basin during this period. The physiographic and environmental nature of the basin allowed access and exploitation of the forage resources to these animals and apparently restricted access to bison. Traditional thinking about the lifeways of the Paleo-Indians that lived in the basin should be re-examined and founded on different research methodology before we can fully understand the story of these early human migrants and their relationship to the environment. Interdisciplinary and interagency cooperation is a critical factor in developing a basis for our understanding of past life in the San Juan Basin.

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Recommended Citation:

  1. O'Neill, F. Michael, 1992, Paleo-Indians in the San Juan Basin: A paleontological perspective, in: San Juan Basin IV, Lucas, Spencer, G.; Kues, Barry S.; Williamson, Thomas E.; Hunt, Adrian P., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 43rd Field Conference, pp. 333-339.

[see guidebook]