Friday, May 16, 2014

Who were the first Americans? Ancient skeleton unravels mystery.

Discovered in an underwater cave in Mexico, the 12,000-year-old skeleton of 'Naia' is confirms that today's Native Americans are descended from people who crossed from Siberia to Alaska.  


In this June 2013 photo provided by National Geographic, diver Susan Bird, working at the bottom of Hoyo Negro, a large dome-shaped underwater cave in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, brushes a human skull found at the site while her team members take detailed photographs. 

A horrible day for a teenage girl perhaps 13,000 years ago - death in a Mexican cave - has turned into a wonderful day for scientists who have managed to coax important secrets out of the oldest genetically intact human skeleton in the New World. 

Scientists said on Thursday genetic tests on her superbly preserved remains found by cave divers have answered questions about the origins of the Western Hemisphere's first people and their relationship to today's Native American populations.

These findings determined that the Ice Age humans who first crossed into the Americas over a land bridge that formerly linked Siberia to Alaska did in fact give rise to modern Native American populations rather than hypothesized later entrants into the hemisphere.

Scientists exploring deep beneath the jungles of Mexico's eastern Yucat√°n peninsula discovered the girl's remains underwater alongside bones of more than two dozen beasts including saber-toothed tigers, cave bears, giant ground sloths and an elephant relative called a gomphothere.

The girl - with her intact cranium and preserved DNA - was entombed for eons in a deeply submerged cave chamber before being discovered in 2007. The petite,

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