Underwater grave reveals oldest and complete 12,000-year-old skeleton
By Silvana Peters | May 19, 2014 4:35 PM EST
The remains of a 12,000-year-old teenage girl has been found in an underwater cave in Mexico, which have have been described by the National Geographic Society as the "oldest, most complete" human skeleton.
The young girl, nicknamed Naia, has provided a great insight in the studies of the human origins in the Western Hemisphere and the earliest Americans. Studies about Naia indicated while her bone structure was consistent with those from her era but her DNA matched those of modern people.
Time wrote that "The child, known as Anzick-1, showed a direct genetic kinship to most modern Native Americans. That proved what scientists have long believed: the people Columbus and other explorers encountered when they arrived from Europe were descended from ancestors who had crossed over from Asia more than 12,000 years ago."
Naia has been referred to as "the missing link" that supports the argument of single migration from Asia to the Americas. The discovery linked the Paleoamericans and modern Native Americans.
"The newly discovered skeleton-named Naia by the divers who discovered her, after the Greek for water-should help to settle this speculation. Though her skull is shaped like those of other early Americans, she shares a DNA sequence with some modern Native Americans. In other words, she's likely a genetic great-aunt to indigenous people currently found in the Americas," the Smithsonian.com reported.
Divers found the Naia's remains along with the bones of other extinct animals like giant sloths and sabertooth cats. Based on the way Naia was discovered in the Yucatan Peninsula by divers in 2007, it was believed that the young girl fell to her death after breaking her pelvis.
There will be a feature of the expedition in the National Geographic magazine and television program and a PBS series titled, "NOVA" in 2015.
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