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September 5 2013

Early South Americans conquered the Atacama desert


The heart of the Atacama desert is the driest place on Earth. But that didn't prevent the first settlers of South America from setting up home there more than 12,000 years ago.

Aside from Antarctica, South America was the last continent that modern humans colonised, says Claudio Latorre of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. The first settlers arrived from North America at least 14,000 years ago, but their route south is a mystery.

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