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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/16/2014 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ancient find supports theory that first Americans travelled by land bridge over Bering Strait

The skeleton of a teenage girl has confirmed a long-held theory about the origin of Native Americans. Discovered during a cave exploration in the Yucatán Peninsula, he archaeological find has established a clear link that humans in the early Americas have ancestral roots in Beringia.

A nearly complete skeleton, the remains were found by explorers in an underwater cave in Mexico in 2007. The divers were mapping water-filled caves north of the city of Tulum, in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula.

A nearly complete skeleton, the remains were found by explorers in an underwater cave in Mexico in 2007. The divers were mapping water-filled caves north of the city of Tulum, in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/16/2014 (10 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Ancient skeleton, Bering Strait, Native Americans, Beringia


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ancient skeleton is the first proof that humans in the Americas arrived through a land bridge over the Bering Strait.

Named Naja by researchers, the skeleton contains distinctive markers found in today's native peoples, especially those in Chile and Argentina. The skeleton's genetic signature is believed to be from people living in Beringia, researchers said.

Starvation takes no vacation --

A nearly complete skeleton, the remains were found by explorers in an underwater cave in Mexico in 2007. The divers were mapping water-filled caves north of the city of Tulum, in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Naja was found in a huge underground chamber, which they dubbed Hoyo Negro, or black hole. "The moment we entered inside, we knew it was an incredible place," one of the divers, Alberto Nava, told reporters. "The floor disappeared under us and we could not see across to the other side."

Divers returned months later and reached the floor of the 100-foot tall chamber, which was littered with animal bones. They came across the girl's skull on a ledge, lying upside down "with a perfect set of teeth and dark eye sockets looking back at us," Nava said.

The divers named the skeleton Naja, after a water nymph of Greek mythology, and joined up with a team of scientists to research the find.

According to researchers, the girl was 15 or 16 when she met her fate in a cave, which at that time was dry. She may have been looking for water when she tumbled into the chamber some 12,000 or 13,000 years ago. Her pelvis was broken, suggesting she had fallen a long distance, he said.

The analysis of her remains addresses a longtime mystery about the settling of the Americas.

Most scientists say the first Americans came from Siberian ancestors who lived on an ancient land bridge which at one time connected Asia to Alaska across the Bering Strait. They are thought to have entered the Americas sometime after 17,000 years ago from that land mass, called Beringia. Genetic evidence indicates that today's native peoples of the Americas are related to these pioneers.

But the oldest skeletons from the Americas - including Naja's - have skulls that look very different from those of today's native peoples. Some researchers have theorized that the first Americans may have come from a different place.

The skeleton confirms that the early Americans and contemporary native populations both came from the same ancestral roots in Beringia, and not different places, the researchers concluded. The anatomical differences apparently reflect evolution over time in Beringia or the Americas, they suggest.

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