Timothy Heaton featured in Smithsonian Magazine Professor Timothy Heaton, Ph.D., of The University of South Dakota, was featured in the November 2004 edition of the Smithsonian Magazine for his research on Prince of Wales Island in southeastern Alaska where archeologists are conducting ground-breaking research on the origins of the new world's population.
The article, titled "America's First Immigrants," challenges the common idea that the western hemisphere's first immigrants came across a land bridge from Siberia and went south through Canada via an ice-free corridor during the ice age. Research such as Heaton's is changing the field of archeology, right down to grade school textbooks.�
The new theory is commonly known as the west coast theory. It asserts that prehistoric south Asians might have taken a coastal route around the northern rim of the Pacific in small skin-covered boats and eventually paddled down the coast of Alaska and British Columbia and then inland into North and South America. Heaton's research supports this theory.
Heaton explored the On Your Knees Cave on the coast of Alaska and recovered an accumulation of animal bones from the last ice age. Heaton believes that humans could easily have survived there during their journey into the new world.
Heaton has been excavating fossils from the caves on Prince of Wales Island since 1991. Radiocarbon dating of human remains found during his ongoing Alaskan coast cave explorations revealed the oldest human remains found in northern North America.
Heaton's research is the result of grants he received in 1998 and 2002 from the Geology and Paleontology Division of the National Science Foundation totaling over $600,000 to study Ice Age fossils. He has also received four research grants from the National Geographic Society supporting this work. His project is titled "Quaternary Vertebrate Paleontology and Biogeography of Southeast Alaska."
Heaton received his bachelor's and master's degrees at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, and received his Ph.D. at Harvard University, all in geology. He did post-doctoral study at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, before joining faculty at USD in 1990.�����