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Human inhabitants encountered a series of changing environments at the end of the most recent ice age in northern New England. We present our current understanding of the context of colonization of this area by a diversity of human groups some time between 13,000 B.P. and 11,000 B.P., based on archeological evidence and on geological and biological evidence synthesized by Davis and Jacobson (1985).

As the Champlain Sea separated the main body of Laurentide ice from the ice cover of northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes about 13,000 B.P., plants and animals began to invade land surfaces exposed by the dissipating ice sheet. Over a few thousand years, the vegetation changed from tundra to woodland to closed forest. There is little direct paleontological evidence for the fauna that lived in those late-glacial ecosystems, but human artifacts from several sites indicate that large mammals were probably hunted prior to the late-Pleistocene extinction of megafauna. We suggest that a shift to greater reliance on caribou hunting would have followed the extinctions. We present a speculative model of how humans adapted to the changing environments and food sources during that dynamic period.

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