‘First Face of America’ explores how humans reached the New World | Science News

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‘First Face of America’ explores how humans reached the New World

Daring underwater retrieval of ancient teen’s bones is featured in a new documentary

By
7:00am, January 22, 2018
scuba diver

DEEP DISCOVERY  A scuba diver photographs the bottom of a submerged, underground pit where many animal fossils, including a teenage girl’s remains, were found in 2007. A TV documentary shows how these discoveries led to insights into the initial settling of the Americas.

A teenage girl climbed into an underground cave around 13,000 years ago. Edging through the ink-dark chamber, she accidentally plunged to her death at the bottom of a deep pit.

Rising seas eventually inundated the cave, located on Central America’s Yucatán Peninsula. But that didn’t stop scuba divers from finding and retrieving much of the girl’s skeleton in 2007.

“First Face of America,” a new NOVA documentary airing February 7 on PBS, provides a closeup look at two dangerous underwater expeditions that resulted in the discovery and salvaging of bones from one of the earliest known New World residents, dubbed Naia.

The program describes how studies of Naia’s bones (SN: 6/14/14, p. 6) and of genes from an 11,500-year-old infant recently excavated in Alaska have generated fresh insights into how

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