Paleoamerican remains found in the Yucatan
In pre-Mayan Mexico, a slender, bucktoothed 15- or 16-year-old girl fell into a flooded, underground cavern about 12,000 years ago. She was a Paleoamerican, with features more akin to Africans and Southeast Asians than modern Native Americans. DNA collected from one of her molars reveals a direct connection to the people who crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia more than 18,000 years ago. The discovery greatly extends the range of DNA information about Paleoamericans.
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Est. 12,910 years old
Est. 10,560 years old
Est. 12,707 years old
Est. 10,500 years old
As early as 10,000 years ago, Ice Age glaciers melted, flooding the cave system. Passages to the pit are more than 30 feet below sea level.
Scientists extracted the upper right third molar, from which they isolated mitichondrial DNA for sequencing. The girl’s genome contained a series of adjacent genes known as subhaplogroup D1, a distinctly Asian configuration that developed in people living in Beringia before they passed from there into the Americas. FRESHWATER
A CAVE OF PALEONTOLOGICAL WONDERS
THE DNA TRUTH IS IN THE TEETH
Remains of Paleoamericans with recovered DNA
The skeleton was found in Hoyo Negro, a Yucatan cave far to the southeast of where other ancient American remains — from which DNA has been analyzed — have been found.
Ice extent 12,000 and 20,000 years ago
Coastline 20,000 years ago
The DNA tooth
Fractures in the girl’s pubic bones suggest that she fell into a shallow pool from an upper cave passage. Her final resting place was in the 200-foot-diameter domed pit of Hoyo Negro, hundreds of feet from the nearest cave entrance.
2 gomphotheres (Cuvieronius)
2 Shasta ground sloths (Nothrotheriops shastensis)
Human (Homo sapiens)
1 white- nosed coati (Nasua narica)
2 bobcats (Lynx rufus)
2 saber-toothed cats (Smilodon fatalis)
2 peccaries (Pecari tajacu)
2 coyotes (Canis latrans)
6 tremarctine bears (Tremarctos)
2 tapirs (Tapirus)
3 cougars (Puma concolor)
1 sloth (Megalonychidae)
Along with her skeleton are the remains of at least 26 large mammals, many of which are now extinct.
HER MAMMALIAN COMPANIONS
SOURCE: "Late Pleistocene Human Skeleton and mtDNA Link Paleoamericans and Modern Native Americans," Science.