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Science

Oldest Skeleton In New World Discovered 485

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the god-is-burying-tests-again dept.
Death Metal Maniac writes "Dubbed Eva de Naharon, or Eve of Naharon, the female skeleton has been dated at 13,600 years old. If that age is accurate, the skeleton along with three others found in underwater caves along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula could provide new clues to how the Americas were first populated. The skeletons' skulls hint that the people may not be of northern Asian descent, which would contradict the dominant theory of New World settlement. 'The shape of the skulls has led us to believe that Eva and the others have more of an affinity with people from South Asia than North Asia,' González explained."
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Oldest Skeleton In New World Discovered

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  • by halfEvilTech (1171369) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:26AM (#24875353)

    Imposible, as every one in florida knows the world is only 6000 years old

    • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @01:15PM (#24877267)

      I recall when a excavation was taking place of some Mycenae survivals. A room was discovered. The resident archeologist was speculating that this must be a household temple similar to the Lars niche found in later Roman ruins. A worker on the site suddenly piped up: "Sure looks like a toilet to me.." And so it proved to be.

      In the middle ages, fabulous tales of a kingdom in the east under the king "Prester John" were told and scoffed at till Marco Polo brought back stories far more fabulous.

      Much of Antrhopology, Archeology, and History is speculation. Pure and simple.

      I would not discount any story no mater how loony till it is PROVED to be false. And "proved" to me means passign the litmus test of the fellow holding the shovel, not the prestigious doctor with the fancy degree and not a lick of common sense..

    • by kalirion (728907) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @02:57PM (#24878947)

      It's all true. Years and days were longer before. You see, the Sun started from a stand still and slowly picked up speed in it's rotation about the Earth as time went on.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by couchslug (175151)

      "Impossible, as every one in florida knows the world is only 6000 years old"

      They are correct.
      DNA will prove the skeleton is Strom Thurmond's other illegitimate daughter.

  • Oh my God! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:30AM (#24875429)

    Underwater for so long! Is she okay?

  • by Woundweavr (37873) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:36AM (#24875521)

    Isn't it at least plausible that the group "Eva" belongs to lived in Northern Asia, despite having characteristics that we would now identify with Southern Asia? Perhaps a later group migrated in that direction, driving Eva's group over the land bridge much in the way ethnic groups worked in Europe (subsequent waves tending to push preexisting ethnic groups).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jason Levine (196982)

      I don't have the data, but that theory should be easy to test. If Eva's group used to live in North Asia and was then driven into South Asia (and into North America) by outsiders, we should find remains of other "Evas" in North Asia. If we don't, then it is more likely that Eva's group originated in South Asia and managed to cross the Pacific Ocean by some manner.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Half-pint HAL (718102)

        Yes, because the world is just teeming with prehistoric skeletons. Why, just the other day I tripped over the remains of a Neanderthal, causing me to fall face first onto a Beaker Person skull, which rolled away and got trapped in the rib cage of an early Pict. In the park.

        HAL.

  • by megamerican (1073936) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:40AM (#24875575)

    Although a slightly older skeleton is news, doesn't anyone remember in Mexico? [bbc.co.uk]

    The more I read about archaeology and ancient history, the more I think that the conventional view is as Ford called it, "bunk."

    • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:51AM (#24875763) Journal

      Most of archaeology and ancient history is supposition in view of the facts that we do have or think we have. That is how science works, continuously reviewed and revised until no further revisions can be found.

      The fossil record (such as it is) has holes in it, and it will never be as complete as the living record was. Only where evidence was preserved is there anything to use for guessing what life was like 10, 14, 20 more millenniums ago.

      It's actually fair to suggest that mankind was as intelligent as we now find modern man to be, just without the same science and knowledge. I'm sure sun worshipers were as neighborhood friendly as those people that stop by to invite me to go to church with them on Sundays now. The rub is that we simply do not have records of what happened then.

      Judging on the shape of the skull and other items found around the skeleton is a good guess, but hardly CSI accurate despite advances in science. Only through an abundance of evidence can we say with any veracity why a skeleton would be wearing a necklace with tiger claws on it. It's a guess. So one skeleton cannot determine how the Americas were populated, but will add fuel to the fire that says it was not simply northern Asians crossing over to Wasilla and moving on.

      Then, IMO, just as now, people who move to a region do not all come from only one source region. To assume so is not fair, and shows shallow thinking as to the resourcefulness of humankind.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)

        nit pic, but...

        Please try to avoind this term:
        "add fuel to the fire " when discussing science. It has the unitended side effect of turing someting into a 'competition' of views.

        Sad, but true.

        I would suggest saying "may add some evidence that indicates it may not have been simply northern Asians crossing over to Wasilla and moving on."

        SAdly, science in the media and non science science polorizes very fast.

  • One Theory... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Liath (950770) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:41AM (#24875593)

    I've heard one theory that the Polynesians et all actually were forced out of northern Asia to the south and the east. They walked over the bridge and floated through the oceans to all the little islands, and the New World. There, they found another people, who they had to fight to survive; being from a hostile background, they were better fighters.

    So they chased the inhabitants down throughout the Americas, to the very tip of Argentina and Chile. Most of the men were killed and most of the women were taken, however several thousand took to the ocean, and floated along the West Wind Drift.. to Australia!

    (The theory was based on genetic evidence that a chickens were introduced to the New World by Polynesians, and that there is a genetic trail on some human female populations in S.A. that links them to Australians.)

  • by ProteusQ (665382) <dontbother@@@nowhere...com> on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:41AM (#24875595) Journal

    I know you don't approve of Chou because he's from the North, but I LOVE HIM and WE'RE GETTING MARRIED! I'm running away with him and his family, so by the time you learn how to read, I'll be gone. Chou's just bought a boat, and we're going to sail north until we find a New World to live in. Maybe one along the coast so we can surf, ya know?

    I'll leave it up to you to tell Liam that I've gone. I couldn't marry a Celt anyway! All that red hair on his face? YUCK!

    I know you wanted to me to stay and grow rice and stuff, but I really just want a life where I can soak up the sun and tell everyone to lighten up.... And who knows? Thousands of years from now, maybe they'll find my remains and it'll ROYALLY screw up their view of ethnic migrations, cause you and I KNOW that the only people who ever sail north and never come back are from the North. I mean, who'd be dumb enough to jump to a conclusion based on one person? AS IF!! Oh well -- as long as I'm famous, ya know?

    Sorry about never seeing you again and stuff. Hugs and kisses!
    Zang

  • wierd theory here (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Coraon (1080675)
    This is just a thought, and I know it's kinda radical here but is it at least possible that these might be some of very first sea fairing people and they simply got lost and discovered the Americas first? I mean, we have been tool users for a very long time, they might have made a very primitive raft, and if long ships, Egyptian sailing ships and south American boats have proven to be able to cross the Atlantic then is it so impossible that these people crossed a primitive pacific?
    • by ProteusQ (665382)

      I wouldn't be surprised if evidence surfaced some day to support your theory. I suspect that the geopolitical history of pre-literate societies is far more interesting that we have any idea of right now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721)

      I don't think "seafaring" is necessarily the answer, though I think "by sea" is a good answer. I don't think the technology to actually navigate across several thousand miles of open ocean existed until well within the historical period. But using small boats and hugging the coasts certainly must have existed even 20,000 or 30,000 years ago. That seems to have been the way that people found their way to places like Australia, Taiwan and Japan (all of which have ancient indigenous peoples of clearly South

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PaganRitual (551879)
      I've actually had the chance to test this exact theory in a simulation and discovered that, yes, it is possible for a Tireme to make it's way across vast oceans, but the chance of it sinking per turn is incredibly high.

      Although once you get to the other side it's likely you'll simply be killed by babarians anyway.
  • has anyone even considered that some 17th century explorer is just playing a trick on everyone by having taken an old skeleton from southeast Asia and dumping it in the water...
  • Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by garett_spencley (193892) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:44AM (#24875661) Journal

    I was playing Civilization the other day, doing an earth simulation and I was playing as Japan. One of my first strategies was to research Astronomy so that I could build Galleons and go colonize the Americas before anyone else could. Having colonized all of the islands in southern Asia (and Australia) it was just obvious what I had to do next. Clearly the early south Asians were thinking along the exact same lines.

    You scientists and your crazy fossil and skeleton digging. There are simpler ways people!

    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Funny)

      by afabbro (33948) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:06PM (#24876013) Homepage

      I was playing Civilization the other day, doing an earth simulation and I was playing as Japan. One of my first strategies was to research Astronomy so that I could build Galleons and go colonize the Americas before anyone else could. Having colonized all of the islands in southern Asia (and Australia) it was just obvious what I had to do next. Clearly the early south Asians were thinking along the exact same lines.

      "We must research Astronomy so we can build galleons and colonize the Americas!"

      "Shut up, Oggthog, and stop drinking the fermented rice. We're almost out of Woolly Mammoth Burger and it's almost time for Volcano Appeasement Day."

      "(grumble, grumble)...one day we'll harvest steam to power great engines and link our centers of distribution..."

      "What are you talking about?"

      "Nothing dear...just sharpening my spear..."

  • Dominant theory? (Score:4, Informative)

    by wigle (676212) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:45AM (#24875667)
    I am not an anthropologist, but I thought the dominant theory was that the New World was populated from various Asian populations in several waves. No one believes that it was just one group, or that it was just one wave. This finding further supports that thesis, along with other findings such as Kennewick Man [wikipedia.org] in 1996.
    • Re:Dominant theory? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:04PM (#24875971) Journal

      The predominant theory for several decades has been the Beringia model, where North Asians out of Siberia migrated across Beringia (which now sits beneath the Bering Sea), but couldn't get any further until the glaciers had sufficiently receded somewhere around 12,000 years ago to permit access into the interior of North America. This model is most certainly true, for at least those Siberian populations that came that way.

      What the few finds of what appear to be non-North Asiatics suggests is that peoples out of South Asia most likely gained access to North America even during the last glacial period. These peoples may have simply boated from South Asia, skirting along the coasts. Evidence out of Alaska and British Columbia suggests that even during this period there were "oases" that were not covered in ice, where such people could have found food.

      What I would suggest, however, is that such a migration path would likely be fairly limited. There wouldn't be sufficient resources to support a larger-scale migration like Clovis, and thus these South Asian migrants probably never had the population density of the later North Asian migrants, who, within a couple of thousand years, seem to have occupied virtually ever region within the Americas (suggesting larger founder populations). These people were likely, like so many small indigenous populations, sublimated into the Clovis peoples.

      There are more waves than that to be sure. The Inuit arrived in the Americas somewhere around 6000 years ago, and there's some suggestion that Polynesian peoples may have made it to the Americas, though my understanding is that that's not a foregone conclusion.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by carn1fex (613593)
      Yes, its generally accepted that North American populations came in several waves over a long period of time. The greater debate is trying to nail down which was the first. This new skeleton will be tossed into the hopper of the "Clovis First" debate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clovis_culture [wikipedia.org]
  • by redblue (943665) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:45AM (#24875671)
    You mean to say that the original Native Americans were really Indians after all? Or should we start calling Native Indians, Brown Americans from now on? So confused...
  • Sorry for the confusion guys! The skeleton found is actually my grandmother who died while hiding in the washer. I tried to dry her out in the dryer, but it only shrank her. Then I tried the microwave...
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:56AM (#24875855)

    Eve of Naharon

    No, just John McCain's first girlfriend. *rimshot*

  • by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:03PM (#24875961)

    "Dubbed Eva de Naharon..."

    Huh?

    "...or Eve of Naharon

    Oh, ok, got it!

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:04PM (#24875975) Homepage

    The shape of the skulls has led us to believe that Eva and the others have more of an affinity with people from South Asia than North Asia

    Crossing from South to North Asia is no more difficult, than crossing from North to South America or, indeed, from Asia to Europe — where even the recent Romans had to battle "endless" Eastern tribes.

    So, the theory, that people crossed Bering's Straits into Northern America (Alaska) and then populated both continents, already assumes migrations far more distant, than a travel from Southern Asia to Norther would require...

    And finally, next time you are in Cancun, ask a Yucatani Mexican, where the Mayas are from, and he'll tell you, they are related to Mongols (and by the looks of them, he may be right)... Mongolia is neither the Southern nor Northern Asia, but smack in the middle...

  • Pining (Score:3, Funny)

    by pipingguy (566974) * on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:08PM (#24876041) Homepage
    I miss Lucy already.
  • by andy1307 (656570) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:08PM (#24876053)
    So the first people in the Americas were south asians i.e. Indians? So should we call them Indians or native americans?
  • by Kludge (13653) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:13PM (#24876139)

    Quite a few dinosaur skeletons (1e8 years) have been discovered in the "New World".

  • its no great mystery. the idea of land bridges is silly. if people can reach samoa and new zealand and easter island on boats and rafts, why they need a land bridge to get to alaska from kamchatka or from lappland to iceland, then greenland, then ellesmere, is silly. you don't even need boats to do that, just pack ice. want to understand how the new world was populated?

    just look at a picture of icelandic pop singer bjork [google.com]

    looking at her picture, seeing her obvious genetic heritage, on iceland, should cue you in on the free flow of of northeast asian genes around the north pole for millenia

    and of course this doesn't preclude the odd southeast asian gene influx from the occasional lucky maniac who made the trip to the south or central american west coast from easter island or hawaii

    the real mystery is how people ever got to easter island, or any other highly isolated south pacific dot. you can head towards north or south america and be way off your intended course, and still make it there as long as you ar emoving very roughly in a general east west direction

    but a dot in the south pacific? if one were given to random chance, that's a lot of wasted souls in outrigger canoes in watery graves. more likely, they simply followed subtle signs: fish migrations, or bird migrations, cloud formations over distant lands, guessing further outliers on island chains from deducing the general direction of mapping previously known chain islands. who knows? perhaps the colonizers of the south pacific used subtle well-observed natural clues we aren't even aware of anymore

    • How do you know there wasn't a free flow of old Icelandic genes to Asia, and then other genes to Iceland?

    • > if one were given to random chance, that's a lot of wasted souls in outrigger canoes in watery graves

      What's wrong with that as a hypothesis? Think about the time scales involved. It's not hard to imagine a population of several hundred thousand or millions throwing up a number of foolhardy adventurers every generation. Over a couple of thousand years, say, you'd expect a few to hit tiny dots.

    • want to understand how the new world was populated? just look at a picture of icelandic pop singer bjork looking at her picture, seeing her obvious genetic heritage, on iceland, should cue you in on the free flow of of northeast asian genes around the north pole for millenia

      Don't let facts get in your way. Such as the fact that the current Icelandic population is descended from Scandinavian roots. Never mind that your assumption of 'Asian' descent is based on 'obvious' characteristics rather than any actual information.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Half-pint HAL (718102)

      What the hell has Bjork got to do with it? Iceland was unpopulated until the ninth century AD when it was founded as a long-term fishing outpost by Gaels and vikings.

      In fact, some of Bjork's features may be from early Greenlandic populations, as any boats between Norway and Greenland would have stopped off at Iceland for supplie. Who were the Greenlanders? Eskimos. Who aren't genetically linked to South Americans.

      Please don't be an educated bigot -- do a bit of research before displaying your total racial i

  • Old news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:17PM (#24876207) Homepage

    The skeletons were found back in 2001 and 2002 and they were carbon dated no later than 2004, probably before that, though.

    They don't say, but I suspect they're talking about the Ox Bel Ha cave system (Ox is the Mayan word for "Three" and is pronounced "Osh"), which is the largest underwater cave system in the world and it's actually something that's probably worthy of a Slashdot post in itself, if it weren't also old news.

    I lived in that area for 3 years and I'm friends with 2 of the divers that discovered and mapped the Ox Bel Ha [mexicocavediving.com] system.

    The Yucatan peninsula is studded with sink holes called "cenotes". They're filled with fresh water (though there are areas where the salt water comes in and creates a salt/fresh water interface called the halocline, which looks wicked cool. It's kind of like oil and water) and look like a bunch of very circular ponds, except they're often fairly deep and interconnected by caves. Skeletons are a pretty common find in them, but most are far more recent (from the Mayan period) and are largely believed to be sacrificial.

    I can't find the stories now, but I recall some stories suggesting that some of the indigenous people of South America were believed to have been descendants of lost fisherman from South-East Asia. It seems plausible that there could have been groups that arrived in Mexico as well.

  • Thanks to the miracles of DNA testing, scientists have already found the closest living relative. This skeleton is from the great-great-great-grandfather of John McCain.

  • Polynesian Link (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shadowhawk (30195) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:20PM (#24876255)
    There is also evidence of Polynesian contact in South America: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080729133618.htm [sciencedaily.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by the phantom (107624)
      It should be pointed out that Polynesia wasn't colonized until long after the New World was colonized. So, while there may have been some contact between the Polynesians and residents of the New World, that contact most likely has only occurred in the last thousand (or maybe two thousand, at the outside) years. These skeletons are reported to be 13.6 years old (and I assume that the dates they are reporting are radiocarbon years, which might make them closer to 14-15k years old, if I remember the calibrat
  • There's a lot of evidence (despite a lot of disagreement) that the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and Chichen Itza in the Yucatan are all monuments to the sky as it appeared 13.5 thousand years ago [wikipedia.org]. Even though none of those monuments seem to actually be at all that old (though perhaps half that old, in their original constructions), which seems to indicate that the memory was preserved for six or seven millennia without such a monumental "permanent marker".

    These unearthed s

  • by jav1231 (539129)
    "could provide new clues to how the Americas were first populated."

    I would think scientists would know how humans "populate." I mean, if they're still stumped on this one, no wonder they don't get laid!
  • Multiple Waves (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mutantSushi (950662)
    The 'mainstream' Western theories of 'multiple waves' are all talking about multiple waves from Northeastern Asia. Someone mentioned the correlation between genetic markers found in South America and Australia... (Australia has been populated at LEAST as long as modern Humans have existed, if not before) Which sounds more likely that populations originating in South Asia/Australia (The Southern Sea Basin) could have migrated either around Africa, or across the Pacific, to reach the Americas. Hawaiian le
    • If the theory that an earlier circum-oceanic people is correct, there's no need for unevidenced claims of mythical peoples that sailed the Pacific prior to 10k years ago. It seems reasonable that these people are likely descendants of the same peoples that settled Australia and the islands of the Far East. One would rather expect that, providing these earlier settlers to the Americas survived and their numbers were great enough, that some of their markers would have survived later Clovis migrations. They

  • SciAm or Discover (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fishbulb (32296) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @02:21PM (#24878365)
    Either Scientific American or Discover magazine had an article on this about 12 years ago. Mostly it had to with a settlement they found on the tip of Tierra del Fuego, and postulated that they had been driven down through the Americas by the Asians. Likely descendants of Australian aborigines, iirc.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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