12,000 Year Old Human Remains in Mexico Are Oldest Ever Found In Americas

Divers Alberto Nava and Susan Bird transport the Hoyo Negro skull to an underwater turntable so that it can be photographed in order to create a 3-D model. Researchers detailed their analysis of the oldest, most complete, genetically intact human skeleton discovered in the New World.

Alejandro Alvarez’s eyes widened against the dark underwater void that would become known as the Black Hole on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

His flashlight shined on ancient bones from extinct species, and eventually he would discover the hemisphere’s oldest, most complete skeleton, a find that may transform the way we think about the development of American man.

This view of Hoyo Negro, shot from the floor near the south edge, shows the immensity of the chamber and the complexity of the boulder-strewn bottom. One access tunnel can be seen near the ceiling at top left.

“What in the world is this?” Alvarez recalls thinking. He and two diving buddies with him knew that they had stumbled across something special.

“We immediately realized the importance,” Alvarez, now 52 and still diving, said in an interview. “It was very exciting.”

The discovery of the 12,000-year-old skeleton of a teenage girl occurred seven years ago but wasn’t announced until this month, after additional, sometimes-risky exploration and detailed scientific investigation.

Published first in the American magazine Science, then elaborated upon by Mexican scientific officials, the find has provided immeasurable evidence on the origins of the first Native Americans.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times

Author: konigludwig

progressive social democrat, internationalist, conservationist

2 thoughts on “12,000 Year Old Human Remains in Mexico Are Oldest Ever Found In Americas”

  1. I do not know how they kept their composure when they found those bones. What a beautiful setting for that young girl. Well, she died young. I am amazed that her bones were so well preserved. I bet it was frustrating waiting years to share such an extraordinary find. Amazing and beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting how long they managed to keep such an amazing discovery a secret. Contrary to the public’s stereotype of archaeologists as treasure hunters, they work very hard not to disturb archaeological sites, because in doing so they could destroy evidence that tomorrow they might have the tools to analyze. DNA analysis in forensics is a perfect example. Twenty years ago, scientists would not have been able to analyze the DNA of this young woman as they can today. Also, there is the archaeological context of the discovery. Where she was found can potentially reveal as much or more about her as her physical remains. But once the site had been discovered by treasure hunters, and disturbed, the only thing left to do was to make the findings public and designate it as a protected site.

    The bottom of the Hoyo Negro cavern is submersed in saltwater, which together with the uniform temperature and utter darkness of the place inhibited decomposition over all these millennia. These kinds of unique conditions have preserved ancient remains in many places around the world. Florida has similar underwater caverns filled with ancient fossil remains, as does Australia. When first discovered in France and Spain, some of the cave paintings of Cro-Magnon man, around 16,000 years old, were still moist.

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