Dennis L. Jenkins is a research archaeologist, field school supervisor for the Oregon State Museum of Anthropology/Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon, and director of the university's Northern Great Basin Field School. One of his excavations led to a new accepted date for earliest human settlement in the Americas. Jenkins' work on coprolites earned him the nickname Dr. Poop.
Education and Career
At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Jenkins earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1977 and a Master of Arts in 1981. In 1986, Jenkins began work in the Fort Rock Basin. The Oregon State Museum of Anthropology hired him in 1987. Jenkins received a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1991. During his four years as Field Director of the Fort Irwin Archaeological Project, his work on the late Pleistocene and early Holocene epochs in the Mojave Desert resulted in his doctoral thesis Site Structure and Chronology of 37 Lake Mojave and Pinto Assemblages from Two Large Multicomponent Sites in the Central Mojave Desert, Southern California. Since 1987, Jenkins has worked on Oregon Department of Transportation archaeological projects.
Jenkins' primary areas of research include the ancient peoples of the Americas, particularly hunter-gatherers in the Great Basin. Techniques include obsidian sourcing and hydration analysis. His Paisley Caves excavation recovered the oldest known human remains on which carbon dating has been performed. Four years after Jenkins' work in 2002, prehistoric DNA expert Eske Willerslev analyzed his samples. Using mass spectrometry on mitochondrial DNA from coprolites, the research determined that people in haplogroups A2 and B2 lived in south central Oregon 12,300 radiocarbon years B.P., about one thousand years earlier than the accepted date for the Clovis culture. The new date of earliest human settlement, after publication in 2008, became accepted by many scientists.
Jenkins co-authored Archaeological Researches in the Northern Great Basin: Fort Rock Archaeology Since Cressman (University of Oregon Anthropological Papers No. 50, 1994), and Early and Middle Holocene Archaeology of the Northern Great Basin (University of Oregon Anthropological Papers No. 62, 2004), and many other books and articles.
- Fried, Stephen (2010-06-13). "Who Were the First Americans?". Parade. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- "Dennis Jenkins". Heritage Key. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- Gilbert, M. Thomas P.; Dennis L. Jenkins et al. (April 3, 2008). "DNA from Pre-Clovis Human Coprolites in Oregon, North America". Science Express. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- Interview: Finding Pre-Clovis Humans in the Oregon High Desert
- NGBPP Research at the Paisley Caves
- June 30, 2008 interview for NewsHour