Skulls in South America Tell New Migration Tale
Posted: Monday, December 12, 2005
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
For decades it has been believed that the first peoples to populate North and South America crossed over from Siberia by way of the Bering Strait on a land-ice bridge.
However, a new study examining the largest collection of South American skulls ever assembled suggests that a different population may have crossed the bridge to the New World 3,000 years before those Siberians.
Scientists occasionally discover skulls in South America that look more like those belonging to indigenous Australians and Melanesians than Northern Asians, but researchers tend to regard these skulls as anomalies due to natural variation rather than a norm, mainly because there were too few to study.
Now scientists have compared 81 skulls from the Lagoa Santa region of Brazil to worldwide data on human variation.
While the skulls of Native Americans and Northern Asians-the descendents of the early Siberian settlers-generally feature short, wide crania, a broader face, and high, narrow eye sockets and noses, this collection was remarkably different.
The skulls belonging to the earliest known South Americans-or Paleo-Indians-had long, narrow crania, projecting jaws, and low, broad eye sockets and noses. Drastically different from American Indians, these skulls appear more similar to modern Australians, Melanesians, and Sub-Saharan Africans.
Full Article : livescience.com
Send page by E-Mail