Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Ancient

DNA From Incredible 12,000-Year-Old Skeleton Found: Who Were the First Americans?

DNA From Incredible 12,000-Year-Old Skeleton Found: Who Were the First Americans? 3

By Mohi Kumar | Smithsonian 

In 2007, cave divers discovered remains that form the oldest, most complete and genetically intact human skeleton in the New World

Some 12,000 years ago, a teenage girl took a walk in what’s now the Yucatan Peninsula and fell 190 feet into a deep pit, breaking her pelvis and likely killing her instantly. Over time, the pit—part of an elaborate limestone cave system—became a watery grave as the most recent ice age ended, glaciers melted and sea levels rose.

In 2007, cave divers happened upon her remarkably preserved remains, which form the oldest, most complete and genetically intact human skeleton in the New World. Her bones, according to new research published in Science, hold the key to a question that has long plagued scientists:
Who were the first Americans?

DNA From Incredible 12,000-Year-Old Skeleton Found: Who Were the First Americans? 4
The skull of Naia on the floor of Hoyo Negro, as it appeared in December 2011, having rolled into a near-upright position.

Prevailing ideas point to all Native Americans descending from ancient Siberians who moved across the Beringia land bridge between Asia and North America between 26,000 and 18,000 years ago. As time wore on, the thinking goes, these people spread southward and gave rise to the Native American populations encountered by European settlers centuries ago.

But therein lies a puzzle: “Modern Native Americans closely resemble people of China, Korea, and Japan… but the oldest American skeletons do not,” says archaeologist and paleontologist James Chatters, lead author on the study and the owner of Applied Paleoscience, a research consulting service based in Bothell, Washington.

The small number of early American specimens discovered so far have smaller and shorter faces and longer and narrower skulls than later Native Americans, more closely resembling the modern people of Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific. “This has led to speculation that perhaps the first Americans and Native Americans came from different homelands,” Chatters continues, “or migrated from Asia at different stages in their evolution.”

[Top Image: Diver Susan Bird works at the bottom of Hoyo Negro, a large dome-shaped underwater cave on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. She carefully brushes the human skull found at the site while her team members take detailed photographs.]

The newly discovered skeleton—named Naia by the divers who discovered her, after the Greek for water—should help to settle this speculation. Though her skull is shaped like those of other early Americans, she shares a DNA sequence with some modern Native Americans. In other words, she’s likely a genetic great-aunt to indigenous people currently found in the Americas.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

[…]

Read the full article at: smithsonianmag.com

Comments

You May Also Like

Occult

Imagine taking one of those genealogy tests which are so popular these days and finding out you’re a descendant of a vampire. You would...

Metaphysics & Psychology

A form of biological internet, the DNA enables psychic communication between cells that belong not only to different life forms, but also to different...

Cryptozoology

Image Credit: CC 2.0 Dave Conner Is there a monster lurking in the depths of Loch Ness ?  A recent effort to trawl Loch...

Bizzare & Odd

As the Ancient Greeks used to say, “Know Thyself.” It probably was meant a little more philosophically that we’re choosing to interpret it, but...

Planet Earth

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, a previously unknown species of ape roamed the forests of Central Africa. We know this not because archeologists...

Science & Technology

In what might be peak body hacking self-optimization fever, individuals have begun mixing nootropics, or “smart drugs,” with genetic testing. Nootropics are any range...

Aliens & UFO's

In science fiction movies and TV shows, intelligent aliens are usually the same basic shape as humans: two arms, two legs and a head....

Fact or fiction

I wonder if any ‘published’ study like this would ever tell the real story. via Sputniknews: The unusual-looking fifteen centimeter humanoid with an enlarged...

Advertisement