Ancient Mojave and Regional Anthropological Studies

Pleistocene and holocene inland lake systems

Bering Land Bridge

Beringia land bridge-noaagov
By NOAA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Land Bridge Theory
The conformation of a strait between Asia and North America fueled an interest in the possibility of a wide plain that might have connected the two continents. Beginning in the early 1800s, American scientists and naturalists started investigating archeological sites on the east coast of the United States, slowly working their way towards the west coast. The findings of these forebearers to modern archaeology suggested that people hadn't originated in North America but had populated the continent from another place. However, from where and how had yet to be discovered. From about 1890 to 1925, research, discussion, and inquiry about the peopling of North America stalled because of inconclusive data. It wasn't until the mid-1920s that scientist would finally restart the search for evidence of how people came to North America.
David M. Hopkins
David M. Hopkins studied geology at the University of New Hampshire before accepting a position with the U.S. Geological Society in 1942. His first trip to Alaska planted a seed of fascination for the wild and beautiful landscape of the area. During his lifetime, Hopkins spent many of his summers on the Seward Peninsula often researching geology in the area that later became the preserve. He made several key contributions to the study of Beringia; he helped publish two books that contained papers written by researchers from a wide range of backgrounds and collaborated with many scientists and researchers to make groundbreaking discoveries about the Bering Land Bridge.
For years, scientists speculated about the different types of vegetation that might have been found on the land bridge. Some scientists believed the land bridge contained uniformed vegetation similar to the current arctic plain vegetation. Hopkins and several other scientists were convinced the land bridge had supported a more diverse vegetation, with plants growing in response to elevation variations and the amount of surface water. Hopkins worked with Mary Edwards, Claudia Hofle, and Victoria Goetcheus Wolf, to confirm the age of plants frozen in a layer of ash from an eruption at Devil Mountain 18,000 years ago.The age of the plant matter found in the ash coincided with the last proposed opening of the land bridge. The ash covered a wide area of what would have been the middle of the land bridge (north to south) 18,000 years ago .The findings from their collaboration helped to confirm that the type of vegetation on the land bridge had been more diverse than originally thought.
Hopkins had a special ability to forge connections between scientists and researchers from many backgrounds. He linked research conducted by people across many different disciplines to strengthen the concept of the Bering Land Bridge Theory. Hopkins reached out to scientists and researchers studying the Chukotka Peninsula and brought their work to the attention of researchers and scientists studying the Seward Peninsula. He recognized the need for interdisciplinary study to understand the whole picture of Beringia. His passion for the Bering Land Bridge was instrumental in not only creating the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve but also in building interest in the Bering Land Bridge Theory.

National Park Service