Quirks & Quarks

Prehistoric Girl and the First Americans

A skeleton discovered in a cave in Mexico helps resolve the question of who were the first people in the Americas....

A skeleton discovered in a cave in Mexico helps resolve the question of who were the first people in the Americas. The remains of a teenage girl who died more than 12,000 years ago - found in an underwater cave in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula - are helping to resolve a long-standing controversy about the identity of the first Americans. The girl's skeleton was found by cave divers, mixed in with the bones of many animals that had also been trapped in the cave. Radio-carbon dating makes this girl's remains among the oldest human remains discovered in the Americas, and their pristine condition is extremely rare. According to Dr. James Chatters, an archaeologist and paleontologist and director of the Hoyo Negro project, while her features are somewhat different from modern Native Americans, DNA extracted from her remains places her firmly in the family of the people who migrated from Siberia across the Bering straight in the last Ice Age. These people are ancestral to modern Native Americans.

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