August 25, 2010

10,000 Year Old Skeleton Removed From Mexican Cave

An ancient skeleton that was found by scientists four years ago and is believed to have lived more than 10,000 years ago has been removed from the underwater Mexican cave where it was discovered.

The skeleton, which is known as the "Young Man of Chan Hol" by the scientific community, is one of the earliest human skeletons ever unearthed. "It was discovered in 2006 by a pair of German cave divers who were exploring unique flooded sandstone sinkholes, known as cenotes, common to the eastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo," according to a Tuesday report by Reuters.

Since then, it has been studied on-site as part of a National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) project, but was removed on Tuesday after scientists decided it would be safe to relocate the remains.

According to the London Daily Mail, "Anthropologists from the National Automonous University of Mexico think that the body was placed in the cave in a funeral ceremony performed late in the Pleistocene epoch when the sea level was around 488 feet lower than it is today"¦ Experts recovered 60 percent of the skeleton, including bones from both arms and legs, vertebrae, ribs, the skull and several teeth - all fantastically preserved."

Bones from four extremities, the skull, vertebrae, ribs, and teeth were among the bones that National University of Mexico (UNAM) anthropologists were able to recover, according to a press release dated August 24. Three additional partial skeletons--two female and one male--were also recovered from nearby caves, and in a few months, Young Man of Chan Hol remains will be consolidated and undergo morphoscopical study to see if the features match those other skeletons.

According to UNAM paleo-biology expert Arturo Gonzalez, the quartet of remains "reveal that migrations from Southeast Asia happened earlier than Clovis groups' ones, who would have crossed from Northern Asia through Bering Strait as well, by the end of the Ice Age."

"Our dating confirmed that skeletons collected in Quintana Roo caves belonged to members of Pre Clovis groups and are part of the few human rests found from the American Terminal Pleistocene, with physical features similar to those of people from Central and South Asia, suggesting there were several migrations to our continent," he also added in the Tuesday press release.


Image Caption: The Young Man of Chan Hol, named after the cenote where it was discovered. Credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)


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