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DNA of girl found in Mexico linked to present-day Native people






A view of the cave where the girl was found in Mexico. Photo from Hoyo Negro

A 12,000-year-old girl who was found in Mexico is related to modern-day Native people, according to a study being published in the journal Science.

The girl's nearly complete remains were found in a cave known as Hoyo Negro. Even though researchers say the girl did not physically resemble modern-day Natives, DNA testing showed that she shared similar genes.

That conclusion puts into doubt some claims that have been made about other ancient remains, including those of Kennewick Man, who was found in Washington. One scientist in particular questioned whether the 9,400-year-old man was an ancestor to present-day Natives based solely on physical attributes.

In the case of Kennewick Man, DNA testing was not conclusive. But that same archaeologist, Jim Chatters, was involved in the Hoyo Negro study and he now appears to be changing his prior views.

”For nearly 20 years, since Kennewick Man turned up, I’ve been wondering why these early people looked so different from Native Americans,” Chatters told The Seattle Times. “This is one step toward resolving that issue.”

Tribes in the Pacific Northwest always claimed Kennewick Man as an ancestor. But the federal courts barred his reburial under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act due to the purported lack of connection to modern-day Native people.

Kennewick Man was found on land that was ceded through treaty by the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon.

Get the Story:
Bones in Submerged Cave May Be Earliest Native American (Discovery News 5/15)
Genetic study of prehistoric girl: Dating and DNA show Paleoamerican-Native American connection (Phys.Org 5/15)
Water Nymph (Slate 5/15)
12,000-year-old skeleton sheds light on Kennewick Man (The Seattle Times 5/15)

Get the Study:
Late Pleistocene Human Skeleton and mtDNA Link Paleoamericans and Modern Native Americans (Science May 16, 2014)