Buried in the Ice Age layers at Nipéhe, Davis and his colleagues found animal bones and discarded stone tools, including bifaces (two-sided handaxes; think of them as prehistoric multi-tools), blades, sharp stone flakes, and fragments of two projectile points. The tool collection didn’t look a thing like the fluted projectile points that have become the archaeological calling card of the Clovis culture.

To make a Clovis-style projectile point, the flint-knapper has to chip off a flake from one or both faces at a point right at the base of the object. That creates a small groove (also called a flute), which makes it easier to fit the point onto the shaft of a spear or arrow. But at Nipéhe (and at a few other pre-Clovis sites in the Americas), people took the opposite approach: they shaped the base of the point into a stem to attach to the spear or arrow shaft. Some of the younger stone tools from Nipéhe are about the same age as the Clovis culture, but they’re clearly a separate technology.

Stemmed projectile points aren’t a recent technology, even by archaeological standards; people figured out that stems made points easier to haft by around 50,000 years ago in Africa, Asia, and the Levant. But there are different ways to shape a chunk of flint into a stemmed point, and the ones at Nipéhe look strikingly similar to stemmed points from Northeast Asia. Similarities are especially strong with items from the Japanese island of Hokkaido, which have turned up at sites dating between 16,000 and 13,000 years ago. (As an interesting side note, stemmed projectile points from a 13,500-year-old site in Kamchatka, in east Russia, were made with a distinctly different style.)