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Earth Science

The Oldest Known Human Remains In the Americas Have Been Found In a Mexican Cave (seeker.com) 138

schwit1 shares a report from Seeker: An ice-free corridor between the Americas and Asia opened up about 12,500 years ago, allowing humans to cross over the Bering land bridge to settle what is now the United States and places beyond to the south. History books have conveyed that information for years to explain how the Americas were supposedly first settled by people, such as those from the Clovis culture. At least one part of the Americas was already occupied by humans before that time, however, says new research on the skeleton of a male youth found in Chan Hol cave near Tulum, Mexico. Dubbed the Young Man of Chan Hol, the remains date to 13,000 years ago, according to a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE. How he arrived at the location remains a great mystery given the timing and the fact that Mexico is well over 4,000 miles away from the Bering land crossing. For the new study, Gonzalez, Stinnesbeck, and their colleagues dated the Young Man of Chan Hol's remains by analyzing the bones' uranium, carbon, and oxygen isotopes, which were also found in stalagmite that had grown through the pelvic bone. The scientists believe that the resulting age of 13,000 years could apply to at least two other skeletons found in caves around Tulum: a teenage female named Naia and a 25-30-year-old female named Eve of Naharon. Gonzalez said that the shape of the skulls suggests that Eve and the others "have more of an affinity with people from Southeast Asia." He and his team further speculated that the individuals could have originated in Indonesia.
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The Oldest Known Human Remains In the Americas Have Been Found In a Mexican Cave

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  • Fake News (Score:4, Funny)

    by aevan ( 903814 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @06:21AM (#55121411)
    Everyone knows the natives are native. That's why they call them Native! This is just trying to paint them as immigrants like everyone else in North America.
    • Re:Fake News (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Vitus Wagner ( 5911 ) <vitus@wagner.pp.ru> on Friday September 01, 2017 @07:29AM (#55121561) Homepage Journal

      There is no such thing as native population. There are just descendants of previous conquerors.

      • There are just descendants of previous conquerors.

        And who did they conquer, and so on? Or are you saying it's conquerors all the way down?

        • Re:Fake News (Score:4, Informative)

          by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:20AM (#55121723)

          It is Conquerors all the way down.
          They may not had conquered people. but they had conquered the elements, infections, wild animals, and unknown terrain.

        • And who did they conquer, and so on?

          The elements, and the wildlife. Which would be non-trivial accomplishments for your average lardball ultra-survivalist with a ton of hardware and no cellphone coverage, but is even more of an accomplishment for a man with a pair of hands and a brain.

      • There is no such thing as native population.

        The native population is the one born there. That is literally what native means: a person associated to a place by birth. So unless you actually believe that every pregnant woman migrates from the shores of North America back to Europe or Asia to give birth like some form of demented salmon there is quite a large native population in North America now.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is no such thing as indigenous population [of the Americas]; there are just [the] native descendants of the people who came to the Americas from elsewhere.

        FTFY

        In Canada the earliest peoples are referred to as "First Nations." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]. I like that term. I wish we would use it here (i.e. in the USA) as well.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The only problem is that evidence has now shown that the "first Nations" are actually the third to arrive in North America. The first being Vikings in north eastern Canada.

          • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

            No... the first nations have been around a lot longer than the Vikings. They're not the first in North America, not even by blood, as this story indicates, but they're groups of currently living people who can trace back some (somewhat arbitrary amount) of their lineage to political and cultural groups that existed at the time of first contact with Europeans.

            • And most of them really weren't nations in the modern sense. They lived in a stone age culture, not having discovered and utilized things like the wheel, refined metal, etc. Other parts of the continents (North and South) did have social structures you could call nations, but many of the people were just hunter-gatherers.

              • And most of them really weren't nations in the modern sense.

                True enough, if your mindset is limited to the "old stone age, new stone age, bronze age, iron age, steam age" mentality.

                Other measures of nationhood and civilization exist, such as intra-group, and inter-group cooperation, trade agreements, and treaties. By many of those measures, the precolumbian peoples of North America were much more advanced than European contemporaries, and arguably more advanced than contemporary euroamerican peoples. This is definitely true when it comes to the careful crafting an

              • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

                There's good evidence that there was a fairly high level of civilization in both North and South America, with all of the accompanying alliances and wars that are familiar from European history. The Inca and Aztec empires in the south, and groups like the Iroquois Confederacy in the north. The Spanish ran into the Inca, but by the time Europeans started seriously exploring the north a lot of the agricultural civilization (and population) seemed to be gone. It's a reasonable hypothesis that what explorers

                • by cowdung ( 702933 )

                  The Inca and Aztec empires in the south, and groups like the Iroquois Confederacy in the north...

                  You mean the Inca in the South and the Aztec in the North.

                  You know the Aztecs lived in North America right? (Mexico is in North America)

                  Aztecs -> North (some Central)
                  Mayan -> Central (some North)
                  Inca -> South

                  Of course there were more civilizations in what today is US and Canada as well. Also further in South America.

          • Vikings were first? Seriously?

            AFAIK most evidence points to the Vikings being here around 1000 CE.

            The Bering land bridge was around 16,000 BCE. Even if you don't buy the land bridge theory, there's other evidence of humans in North America dating back to at least 10,000 BCE. If today's AmerIndian population, including Aztec, Mayan, Incan, First Nations, etc., etc., are descended from either of those peoples that still places them here long before the Vikings.

            And then who, according to you, were the second t

            • Vikings were first? Seriously?

              Being unduly generous to the AC, she might be misremembering a speculation popular a few years ago which suggested that Neanderthal or early Cro-Magnons from the Lusitania/ Galicia/ Pays Basque/ Aquitaine / Brittany region could have possibly island- an iceberg hopped across the Atlantic by kayaking on fishing expeditions that went wrong. And that could have happened 20kyr ago. It's not impossible, but it is a big ask. And calling them "Vikings" is ... peculiar.

        • by pthisis ( 27352 )

          In Canada the earliest peoples are referred to as "First Nations." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ [wikipedia.org]... [wikipedia.org]. I like that term. I wish we would use it here (i.e. in the USA) as well.

          I'm not a huge fan; "First" is a Eurocentric label that's a little dismissive of pre-Columbian cultures in the Americas. It doesn't reflect the fact that there was a rich history of cultures rising and falling in North America prior to European contact. The natives at the time were really the latest in a series of diff

    • Re:Fake News (Score:5, Insightful)

      by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @07:39AM (#55121581)
      Everyone in the Americas is technically an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants. The only natives are in Africa.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        You're saying the Young Man of Chan Hol followed the same path as Obama? Born in Africa, came to the US via Indonesia?

      • Actually we are probably repatriated depending on how the contents were shaped back when vertebrates first walked on land. A lot of Africa Continental plate was squished against other land masses.

      • Everyone in the Americas is technically an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants.

        No, anyone born in the Americas is a native. So while I am native to Europe my kids are native to North America. Native literally means a person associated to a place by birth and comes from the latin verb "to be born".

        • I got that covered by the "descendant of immigrants" part.
          • Yes, but what you get wrong is that the "descendants of immigrants" are natives by definition and it is completely wrong to say that "The only natives are in Africa...".
      • by dfghjk ( 711126 )

        ...and, technically, all sex is incest. These are crucial observations.

      • Everyone living on land is a descendant of immigrants. The only natives are in the ocean.

        Unless transpermiation is correct....

        • The only natives are in the ocean.

          Hydrothermal springs, if you ask me. Damn these eukaryotes and their choking oxygenic toxic waste !

    • Also, given the clockwise nature of North Pacific currents, and the fact that drift rafts were well within the technology available to stone age man 13,000 years ago, is it not more probable that Indonesian people came from Mexicans who came from Eskimos who came from Siberia?

      • by pthisis ( 27352 )

        Thor Heyerdahl is that you?

        This was essentially the theory that drove his Kon-Tiki expedition, exteded past Polynesia into Indonesia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        It's a really good theory, but DNA and linguistic evidence suggest there's not much basis for it (though of course they can't do much to rule out isolated instances as opposed to larger trends).

        • Trouble is it all falls apart when you notice that the Bering Sea, even in summer, is too far north to be survivable on a raft....

          • by pthisis ( 27352 )

            The Bering Sea's typically not involved in the Indonesia raft theory. The Kon-Tiki route was all south of the equator. And the Bering Strait was a land route beginning c. 21,000 BP, though access along the coast was blocked by ice until about 17,000 BP and the interior route didn't clear up until about 13,500 BP. There's a pretty good history of the sea level in the area here: http://theconversation.com/fir... [theconversation.com]

            But like I said there's plenty of other evidence against the theory, at least as a significant d

            • I'm guessing the research was phrased more as "here's additional evidence against Clovis-first and for an earlier date" and the reporters added some sloppy wording around it to sensationalize things.

              Why guess. Schwit1 provided a direct link to the paper. You can read it for yourself. In fact, this is the less interesting bit of what they say :

              The oldest closed system U/Th age comes from around 21 mm above the pelvis defining the terminus ante quem for the pelvis to 11311±370 y BP. However, the skelet

          • the Bering Sea, even in summer, is too far north to be survivable on a raft....

            Do you have evidence to support this proposition? In particular, if your experimental set up starts with people who have spent their whole lives, for generations past, living in the glacial Siberian NE.

            You might not be able to survive on a raft in the Bering sea tomorrow. That doesn't mean that its impossible, only that you don't know how to survive in Bering sea conditions.

  • The skeleton of the Clovis childâ"which experts determined belonged to a young boy about one to one-and-a-half years oldâ"was discovered in 1968 in the Anzick burial site in western Montana [nationalgeographic.com]. Dozens of ochre-covered stone tools found at the site were consistent with Clovis technology, and radiocarbon dating revealed that the skeleton was approximately 12,600 years old.

    • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @07:39AM (#55121583)
      The sentence from the article which set off my "put this in the maybe column" reaction was this one "Only 1 to 2 percent of the collected DNA was human," When combined with my knowledge from other sources that, in general, DNA older than 10,000 years is unrecoverable makes me wonder how reliable these DNA tests were. The final thing which keeps this in the "maybe" column is the fact that the central argument for the Clovis people being from Europe is that there are tools with similar design features to the distinctive "Clovis" tools in Europe, but not in Asia.
      • The sentence from the article which set off my "put this in the maybe column" reaction was this one "Only 1 to 2 percent of the collected DNA was human," When combined with my knowledge from other sources that, in general, DNA older than 10,000 years is unrecoverable makes me wonder how reliable these DNA tests were. The final thing which keeps this in the "maybe" column is the fact that the central argument for the Clovis people being from Europe is that there are tools with similar design features to the distinctive "Clovis" tools in Europe, but not in Asia.

        I beg to differ, one can recover DNA much older than 10k years. The Frauenhofer institute has sequenced Neanderthal DNA from fossilised bone and teeth that is at least 35-40k years old. The Frauenhofer team sequenced the Denisovan genome from a single finger bone not much bigger than a blueberry. Such old DNA is very fragmented and has lots of errors but if you sequence the same specimen often enough (IIRC they sequenced their first Neanderthal genome something like 30 times) you can eliminate the vast majo

        • I beg to differ, one can recover DNA much older than 10k years.

          The limit for recovery of sequenceable DNA is around 400kyr - from a horse(-ish), IIRC.

      • The sentence from the article which set off my "put this in the maybe column" reaction was this one "Only 1 to 2 percent of the collected DNA was human,"

        This can probably be assigned to the actions of one or two (presently unidentified) people.

        When the skeleton was discovered it was about 80% complete, including some lovely dense molar teeth in the skull. Between the discovery dive and the excavation dive programme (you need things like Teflon bags to avoid DNA contamination, and rigid boxes to protect th

  • I shall preempt their response and respond with "prove it's not fake news!"
    • by jfern ( 115937 )

      Young earth creationists say the universe is younger than some 9,550 year living tree roots.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • So the guy is dubbed "young man of Chan Hol" (which sounds like the start of a bad limerick), but the two ladies are called Naia and Eve. Were they wearing dog tags or something?
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @07:54AM (#55121631) Homepage Journal

    stalagmite that had grown through the pelvic bone.

    I reckon they found the world's first buttplug.

  • When I took archaeology back in the 90s Tom Dillahay found archaeological remains of humans at Monte Verde, Chile, that dated from 14k to 18.5k years ago. The archaeological orthodoxy, nicknamed The Clovis Police, all defending their dissertations, attacked him for the pre-12.5k date. Dina Dincauze was the chief of the Clovis Police, and I mention her because she went down to Monte Verde and wrote a paper saying yes, Dillahay's work is sound and there were people here that long ago. Not everyone has aban

  • Canada? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @09:51AM (#55122157) Journal

    ...to settle what is now the United States and places beyond to the south.

    I'm now curious to know whether Canada's aboriginal peoples came from somewhere else or whether knowledge of geography in the US has declined to the point that you no longer know where even Canada is.

    • I'm now curious to know whether Canada's aboriginal peoples came from somewhere else or whether knowledge of geography in the US has declined to the point that you no longer know where even Canada is.

      Canada doesn't really exist. It's just a ongoing joke created by Hollywood. As if people would really live that far North surrounded by snow, Polar Bears and Elves making toys for Santa.

  • Oldest? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Humbubba ( 2443838 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @09:54AM (#55122177)
    These are the oldest known human remains in the Americas? How about the "Arlington Woman", who's 13,000 year old bones were found in the 1960s on a Channel Island of Ventura County, Southern California. http://articles.latimes.com/1999/apr/11/news/mn-26401 [latimes.com]

    Evidence of humans in the Americas go back further. A 14,000 year old village was found on Triquet Island, northwest of Victoria Canada. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/one-oldest-north-american-settlements-found-180962750/ [smithsonianmag.com]

    Controversially, James M. Adovasio, Dennis Stanford and Joseph and Lynn McAvoy; and on the wilder side, Albert Goodyear and Tom Demere say there is evidence for humans in the Americas that goes back much further. Their evidence and theories are not generally accepted. Good reads though.

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