Underwater find in Mexico offers peek at genetic heritage of ancient Asian arrivals
Paul Nicklen/National Geographic
Support for a genetic connection between the first Americans and modern Native Americans has come from the submerged remains of a teenage girl who lived between 12,000 and 13,000 years ago in what’s now Mexico.
Divers discovered the youth’s partial skeleton, along with bones of more than two dozen large mammals, while exploring an underwater cave on Central America’s Yucatán Peninsula in 2007. An international scientific team led by archaeologist James Chatters of Applied Paleoscience, a consulting firm in Bothell, Wash., then joined forces with the divers.
As was true of previously unearthed skulls of early Americans, the girl’s facial features differ sharply from those of current Native Americans, the team reports in the May 16 Science. Yet the ancient youth shares with Native Americans a genetic profile that probably evolved among people