New

9,900-Year-Old Skeleton Found in Mexican Cenote Rewrites History

9,900-Year-Old Skeleton Found in Mexican Cenote Rewrites History


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

9,900-year-old human skeleton found in a Mexican underwater cenote cave illustrates the complexity of the first settlers in the Americas.

New research published yesterday in the journal PLOS One details the discovery of a 9,900-year-old human skeleton, Chan Hol 3, found submerged in the Chan Hol cave, near the Tulum archaeological site in Quintana Roo state, on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

The skeleton belonged to a woman who had died in her 30s and she is referred to in the paper as one of the “first people to set foot in the Americas,” and her remains prove this region was inhabited by at least two different groups of early Mesoamerican settlers at least 8,000 years before the Maya culture first emerged.

Fingerprints of Ancient Violence

The Yucatán Peninsula is maze of submerged caves and sinkholes (cenotes), which before filling with water served America’s first settlers as shelters and archaeologists have now discovered 10 human skeletons in these underwater caves, including the newly discovered Chan Hol 3. According to a 2014 Gizmodo article, Tulum divers discovered the skeletal remains of a young girl in a cave called Hoyo Negro (black hole) dating to 10,976 years ago. Additionally during the 2000s, archaeologists working in Naharon cave, near Tulum, found another skeleton that radiocarbon dated to 11,570 years ago.

Underwater cenote cave where the remains were found. (Eugenio Acevez / Heidelberg University )

This new study not only successfully dates the ancient woman’s skeleton, but it shows she had suffered a bacterial disease, which had caused pitting and deformations on her skull. Furthermore, she had sustained three serious head injuries inflicted with a hard object, or multiple objects, that shattered the bones in her skull.

Searching For Thor

The woman’s skeleton is among the oldest human fossils to be found anywhere in the Americas, but the scientists identified a “major problem” with the usual radiocarbon dating method. Dr Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, the first author of the new study and an archaeologist from Heidelberg University in Germany , said in the paper that bones that have been submerged in water for thousands of years lose much of their “collagen”, which is the most abundant protein in the human body that holds the body together, and without collagen, accurate carbon dating is virtually impossible.

The Chan Hol 3 skeleton is “30 percent complete” and Dr Stinnesbeck told Gizmodo that his team had used an “indirect dating technique from physics” based on the radioactive decay of uranium and its conversion into thorium, which is a naturally-occurring radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius , who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. The uranium-thorium isotope samples were taken from a solid calcite (lime) crust that had formed on the skeleton’s finger bones, having dripped from the cave ceiling at a time the Chan Hol cave was still void of water.

Archaeologists studying the skeleton found in the Chan Hol cenote cave. (Jerónimo Avilés Olguín / Heidelberg University )

In 2018 the same team of scientists gathered charcoal samples from ancient fire pits dating to about 9,100 and 7,900 years ago. This provided evidence that the Chan Hol cave was free of water and that humans used the cave for living in for at least 1,200 years during the early and middle Holocene, before a rise in global sea levels, which eventually flooded of the cave system. The study's co-author, Norbert Franck, and his team of researchers from the Institute of Environmental Physics at Heidelberg University dated Chan Hol 3 to being a “minimum of at least 9,900 years old” and according to Dr Stinnesbeck, because the body had already become skeletonized, before the crusts formed, the fossil is likely “much older.”

Analyzing Skull Patterns

A comparative analysis of over 400 ancient skulls found across the Americas indicates what the scientists call a “mesocephalic”, or round headed, skull pattern which is different to skulls of Paleoamericans from Central Mexico and North America, which are longer and narrower skulls (“dolicocephalic” skull patterns).

Close-up of skull found in the Chan Hol cenote cave. (Jerónimo Avilés Olguín / Heidelberg University )

In conclusion, this observation tells scientists “at least two physically distinct human groups” lived at roughly the same time in the Mexican region as the Pleistocene gave way to the Holocene. But it is unclear whether two different groups arrived in North America from Eurasia at the same time, or the two groups emerged from a single group and developed distinctive physical characteristics over time.

A recent study , co-authored by Ohio State University scientist Mark Hubbe, said that in the absence of DNA data, nevertheless, we cannot say where these people originally came from and how they came to the Americas. But the little DNA evidence they gathered suggests a complex series of “ancestral splits, multiple migrations, and the reunification of diverged groups.”

  • Day of the Dead: Aztec Goddess Worship to Mexican Celebration
  • A Mexican Underwater Cave System is the Largest in the World…and Filled with Archaeological Value
  • Skeleton Stalagmite Reveals Human Inhabitants in Mexico At Least 13,000 Years Ago

With modern technology, submerged cave systems like those in Tulum are beginning to share their archaeological secrets. Even without, DNA scientists can study proteins, and it is these little building blocks of life that are divulging their fossilized truths regarding the first people to populate the Americas.


9,900-year-old Mexican female skeleton distinct from other early American settlers

A new skeleton discovered in the submerged caves at Tulum sheds new light on the earliest settlers of Mexico, according to a study published February 5, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Wolfgang Stinnesbeck from Universität Heidelberg, Germany.

Humans have been living in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula since at least the Late Pleistocene (126,000-11,700 years ago). Much of what we know about these earliest settlers of Mexico comes from nine well-preserved human skeletons found in the submerged caves and sinkholes near Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Here, Stinnesbeck and colleagues describe a new, 30 percent-complete skeleton, 'Chan Hol 3', found in the Chan Hol underwater cave within the Tulum cave system. The authors used a non-damaging dating method and took craniometric measurements, then compared her skull to 452 skulls from across North, Central, and South America as well as other skulls found in the Tulum caves.

The analysis showed Chan Hol 3 was likely a woman, approximately 30 years old at her time of death, and lived at least 9,900 years ago. Her skull falls into a mesocephalic pattern (neither especially broad or narrow, with broad cheekbones and a flat forehead), like the three other skulls from the Tulum caves used for comparison all Tulum cave skulls also had tooth caries, potentially indicating a higher-sugar diet. This contrasts with most of the other known American crania in a similar age range, which tend to be long and narrow, and show worn teeth (suggesting hard foods in their diet) without cavities.

Though limited by the relative lack of archeological evidence for early settlers across the Americas, the authors suggest that these cranial patterns suggest the presence of at least two morphologically different human groups living separately in Mexico during this shift from the Pleistocene to the Holocene (our current epoch).

The authors add: "The Tulúm skeletons indicate that either more than one group of people reached the American continent first, or that there was enough time for a small group of early settlers who lived isolated on the Yucatán peninsula to develop a different skull morphology. The early settlement history of America thus seems to be more complex and, moreover, to have occurred at an earlier time than previously assumed."


9,990-year-old skull may rewrite ancient American history

The woman the bones belonged to was markedly different to other ancient Americans.

At nearly 4,300 miles long, the Tulum submerged cave system is the longest underwater cave system ever found. It is also arguably the most important when it comes to human history. Nine ancient human skeletons have been found in this underwater labyrinth. And in a study published on Wednesday, scientists announced the discovery of one more.

The newly-found skeleton, dubbed ‘Chan Hol 3,' belonged to a 30-year-old woman who died some 9,990 years ago. Thirty-percent of her skeleton was found preserved in the cave system, at the bottom of 8 meters of fresh water.

The discovery is described in a paper published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

Chan Hol 3 was first found in September 2016, during a systematic survey of the caves. To get to her, cave explorers first had to swim past the sites of past ancient-skeleton discoveries, including the 10,000-year-old skeletal remains of a child, and the 13,000-year-old skeletal remains of a young man.

After that discovery, lead investigator and geoscientist Wolfgang Stinnesbeck told Inverse “it looks as if the oldest osteological remains of humans in the Americas are all reported from the Tulum system of submerged caves.”

It is through analysis of these remains that scientists can get a richer, and more accurate, sense of what life was like for the first humans in the Americas. And Chan Hol 3 is helping to shed light on where we have gotten the narrative wrong.

Submerged history

The Tulum caves have not always been underwater. During the Last Glacial Maximum, which happened around 25,000 to 19,000 years ago, sea level was more than 100 meters lower than today. At that time, parts of the Tulum cave system were likely completely dry — making them accessible to animals and humans.

When deglaciation began, sea levels rose abruptly, submerging the caves. Today, the cave system contains a freshwater layer over seawater. The cave where this skeleton was found likely became water-filled during a period of rising sea levels 8,000 years ago — the result of global warming.

After she was discovered, Chan Hol 3 was treated with distilled water for eight months, slowly dried out, and then photographed. A uranium-thorium dating technique determined its age — a minimum of 9,900-years-old.

The team compared Chan Hol 3's skull to the skulls of 452 individuals' remains, found across North, Central, and South America — including the skulls also found in the Tulum caves. In doing so, they realized that the skulls found in the caves are more round-headed than other contemporary skulls found in Central and North America. Another telling difference between the Tulum skulls and other ancient Americans' remains is the fact that Chan Hol 3, like other Tulum skulls, has teeth with cavities, indicating a diet high in sugar. The other skulls' teeth are mostly cavity-free — suggesting they ate a markedly different diet.

Taken together, the skulls suggest that two morphologically different groups of ancient American peoples lived in this part of the world at the same time — complicating the story of early human settlement of the Americas.

The Tulum skeletons suggest that either more than one group of people reached the American continent during the same time period, or that people have lived long enough on the Yucatan Peninsula for different groups to develop distinct skull morphology.

The latter hypothesis would mean that human settlement of the Americas happened far earlier than previously thought.

It’s generally believed that humans have lived on the Yucatan Peninsula since the Late Pleistocene — between 126,000 to 11,700 years ago. But exactly when humans came to occupy the Peninsula is hotly debated. The “kelp highway” hypothesis supports the idea that the migration happened between 20,000 to 15,000 years ago, while the discovery of a Patagonian human settlement suggests people had made it to South America by at least 18,500 years ago.

Only time — and more discoveries — can reveal our true human history. And the Tulum cave system may provide many more twists in the plot: Just 932 miles of the 4,399 mile-long system has been explored, after all.


Skeleton Found in Submerged Mexican Cave Sheds New Light on Earliest People in America

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is typically associated with the Maya civilization, but emerging archaeological evidence suggests this region was settled thousands of years earlier by some of the first people to set foot in the Americas.

New research published today in PLOS One describes an important new discovery that’s adding to our understanding of this period in human history: a 9,900-year-old skeleton found in the submerged Chan Hol cave near the Tulum archaeological site in Mexico’s Quintana Roo state.

The skeleton, which belonged to a woman who died in her 30s, has some unique characteristics that suggest the region was inhabited by at least two different groups of early Mesoamerican settlers, who made the area t heir home roughly 8,000 years before the Maya first appeared on the scene.

A striking feature of this part of the Yucatán Peninsula is the large complex of submerged caves and sinkholes. Thousands of years ago, these caves and sinkholes served as shelters, and only later did they become inundated. In recent years, archaeologists have dared to dive to the bottom of these dark pools, an effort for which they’ve been suitably rewarded. To date, archaeologists have discovered 10 human skeletons in these underwater caves, including the new one, designated Chan Hol 3.

The story these fossils are telling is nothing short of extraordinary. Back in 2014, Tulum divers found the skeletal remains of a young girl in a cave called Hoyo Negro, which is Spanish for “black hole.” Using carbon dating, scientists dated these remains to 10,976 years ago. During the 2000s, archaeologists working in Naharon cave, also near Tulum, found a skeleton that was dated to 11,570 years ago.

These are some of the oldest human fossils to be found anywhere in the Americas—but there’s a major problem, and it has to do with the dating method used. Bones that have been submerged in water for a long time are stripped of their organic tissue, namely collagen. That makes carbon dating a precarious proposition at best.

Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, the first author of the new study and an archaeologist from Heidelberg University in Germany, used a different approach to date the Chan Hol 3 skeleton, which is 30 percent complete.

“We used an indirect dating technique from physics,” Stinnesbeck told Gizmodo. “This method is based on the radioactive decay of uranium and its conversion into thorium. We dated the uranium-thorium isotopes of a lime crust that had grown on the finger bones when Chan Hol cave was still dry.”

The solid calcite crust that formed on the finger bones was caused by water dripping from the cave ceiling, according to the paper. Study co-author Norbert Franck and his team from the Institute of Environmental Physics at Heidelberg University performed the dating, coming up with a minimum age for Chan Hol 3 at 9,900 years old—with “minimum” being the key word. Clearly, the body had already become “skeletonized,” in the words of Stinnesbeck, before the crusts could appear, so the fossil is likely much older.

Similar encrustations appeared on Chan Hol 2, a skeleton previously found in the same cave. Stinnesbeck’s team used the same uranium-thorium technique to date this fossil back in 2015 , coming up with a minimum age of 11,300 years but a likely age of 13,000 years, given the amount of crust seen on the skeleton. The Chan Hol 2 individual is thus one of the oldest skeletons to have ever been found in the Americas.

Other archaeological evidence from Chan Hol cave has produced similar timeframes. In 2018, the same team dated bits of charcoal from ancient fire pits, resulting in a date range between roughly 9,100 and 7,900 years ago.

“These charcoal concentrations are interpreted by us as ancient illumination sites,” Stinnesbeck told Gizmodo. “They provide strong evidence that the Chan Hol cave was dry and accessible and that humans used the cave for at least 1,200 years during the early and middle Holocene, before access was successively interrupted by global sea level rise and flooding of the cave system.”

Analysis of the Chan Hol 3 skeleton points to a woman who was around 30 years old when she died. A comparative analysis involving over 400 ancient skulls found across the Americas, including Tulum, revealed a “mesocephalic” skull pattern indicative of a round head. This stands in contrast to skulls found elsewhere, including those belonging to Paleoamericans from Central Mexico and North America, which feature “dolicocephalic” skull patterns indicative of long and narrow skulls. The Chan Hol 3 individual also suffered from tooth decay, likely caused by a sugar-rich diet. Dolicocephalic individuals don’t tend to have cavities and instead feature badly worn teeth, which is caused by chewing on tough foods.

Together, this evidence points to the presence of at least two physically distinct human groups who lived at roughly the same time in the Mexican region as the Pleistocene gave way to the Holocene. This presents one of two possibilities: At least two different groups arrived to North America from Eurasia, or the two groups are offshoots of a single group that arrived to the Americas but subsequently diverged and developed distinctive physical characteristics over time.

“In either case, the early settlement history of the Americas appears to be more complicated and may date back thousands of years earlier than commonly believed,” said Stinnesbeck, who pointed to his own work and a recent study co-authored by Ohio State University scientist Mark Hubbe as evidence. “In the absence of DNA data, nevertheless, we cannot say where these people originally came from and how they came to the Americas,” he said.

Something Completely Unexpected Happened to the First Settlers of South America

As the last Ice Age was coming to an end, and as the first settlers arrived in North America, two…

Indeed, the scenarios presented in the paper don’t preclude the possibility that other groups spilled into North America from Eurasia around the same time but weren’t connected to the two groups described in the new study. And the DNA evidence that does exist—scant as it is—points to a complicated story of ancestral splits, multiple migrations, and the reunification of diverged groups.

But the analysis of Chan Hol 3 doesn’t end there. This ancient woman endured skull trauma and disease.

Evidence of at least three serious injuries were found on her skull. The woman appears to have been struck by a hard object, or multiple objects, which broke the bones in her head. It’s not clear if the woman died from these injuries, but no signs of healing were found on the skull. It’s “likely” that these wounds resulted in her death, but there’s “no positive evidence” to support this scenario, cautioned Stinnesbeck.

Chan Hol 3 also appears to have contracted a bacterial disease, as evidenced by dents and crater-like deformations on her skull. Specifically, she may have been infected with Treponema peritonitis, which can lead to osteitis (inflammation of bone) or severe periostitis (inflammation of connective tissue that surrounds bone). The researchers ruled out the possibility that these skull deformations were caused by erosion.

“They are thus of anthropological importance, in particular when it comes to the possibility that Treponema may be involved—a group of bacteria which causes syphilis,” said Stinnesbeck, who made it clear that “we did NOT present evidence for this disease [syphilis]” in the new paper.

The submerged caves at Tulum are steadily showing their immense value as archaeological sites. These chambers undoubtedly have many fascinating stories still to tell—we just have to dive right in.

Senior staff reporter at Gizmodo specializing in astronomy, space exploration, SETI, archaeology, bioethics, animal intelligence, human enhancement, and risks posed by AI and other advanced tech.


Archaeology shock: 10,000-year-old underwater 'untouched haven rewrites history'

Link copied

Mexico: 10,000 year old skeleton ‘died at 30’ says expert

When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they'll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.

A pair of divers discovered the eerie underwater grave of a woman with a deformed skull who lived on Mexico&rsquos Yucatan Peninsula 9,900 years ago, making her one of the earliest known inhabitants of the area. Vicente Fito and Ivan Hernandez first found the woman's remains in September 2016 while diving in the Chan Hol cave near Tulum, prompting an international team to get to work analysing the mysterious skeleton, dubbed Chan Hol 3. While the skeleton is only about 30 percent complete, the researchers were able to discern that it belonged to a woman who stood roughly 5 feet, 4 inches (1.64 m) tall and was about 30 years old when she died.

Related articles

Historian Matthew Sibson explained on his channel &ldquoAncient Architects&rdquo last week why the find is so important.

He said: &ldquoThe traditional view of human occupation and one that is being challenged all the time is that people crossed a land bridge connecting Asia to North America around 12,000 years ago.

&ldquoBut sinkhole caves in the Yucatan Peninsula have so far unearthed nine skeletons, including a teenage girl who has been linked to modern Native Americans and implies that humans had already reached this far south 12,000 years ago.

&ldquoThe traditional view is constantly being turned on its head and now many alternative researchers are pushing the timeline of human occupation of the Americas back in time tens if not hundreds of thousands of years.

The cave was discovered in Mexico (Image: YOUTUBE)

A skull and human remains were found (Image: YOUTUBE)

It's an archaeological haven with untouched finds dating back many thousands of years.

Matthew Sibson

&ldquoBut the discovery of a skeleton that is at least 9,900 years old is certainly an early find.

&ldquoBack in September 2016, explorers were mapping a Yucatan cave called Chan Hol, where they discovered the ancient female, dubbed Chan Hol 3 by the experts, but due to the salty cave water, the collagen in the bones had degraded, meaning radiocarbon dating methods would not work.&rdquo

Mr Sibson theorised how the woman may have died.

He added: &ldquoBut calcite from stalactites had dripped onto the female&rsquos fingers and due to the low levels of uranium and thorium in calcite, experts dated the deposits to around 9,900 years ago, meaning the skeleton is certainly older.

&ldquoThe skeleton had tooth cavities, indicating a high-sugar diet and we know she died at around 30 years of age.

A team of archaeologists have been working on the find (Image: PA)

Related articles

&ldquoHer cause of death is unknown but from analysing the skull, she did suffer three skull injuries in her life, all of which healed.

&ldquoHer skull was also pitted with crater-like deformations, lesions that look like those caused by a bacterial infection, like syphilis.&rdquo

Mr Sibson explained what else was found in the area.

He added: &ldquoShe clearly had a very hard life and a very unhappy end.

&ldquoExperts are speculating that she may have been expelled from her group and was killed in the cave, or was left in the cave to die.

Around 30 percent of the woman's body was uncovered (Image: PA)

More of the cave needs to be explored (Image: YOUTUBE)

&ldquoAnalysing the skull in more detail and it was a round skull with a low forehead, one of two groups found in Mexico, the other having longer skulls.

&ldquoIt implies that in Mexico thousands of years ago, there were two human groups, both having clear differences and were probably two separate cultures, yet they co-existed between 12,000 and 8,000 years ago.

&ldquoThe cave also contained the remains of a child from 10,000 years ago and a man who had died 13,000 years ago.&rdquo

Mr Sibson went on to discuss how the find is helping to rewrite history in South America.


By Daily Mail Reporter
Updated: 11:49 BST, 25 August 2010

The remains of a prehistoric child that were found in an underwater cave in Mexico four years ago have now been removed by a team of divers.

The skeletal remains of the boy, dubbed the Young Hol Chan, are more than 10,000 years old and are among the oldest human bones found in the Americas.

Scientists hope that the well-preserved corpse will offers clues to ancient human migration.

An archaeologist takes a picture of the skeleton of a child found at the bottom of an underwater cave near Tulum

The corpse 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.

He appears to have been a young boy and was found with his legs bent to his left side and his arms extended to either side of his body.

No other ancient skeleton has ever been found in this position.

Scientists spent three years studying the remains where they lay before deciding it was safe to bring the skeleton to the surface for further study.

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.

The divers after the body was removed from the cave. Scientists say that this finding will reveal information on how the continent was populated

Experts recovered 60 percent of the skeleton, including bones from both arms and legs, vertebrae, ribs, the skull and several teeth - all fantastically preserved,

Divers have also found the partial skeletons of three other people, known as the Woman of Naharon, the Woman of Las Palmas and the Temple Man, all of which were discovered inside other flooded caves,

Scientists believe that the latest discover 'strengthens the hypothesis that the American continent was populated starting with several migrations coming from Asia'.

In an announcement the university said that the burial sites 'reveal migrations coming from southeastern Asia before those known up to now as Clovis groups, which are said to have crossed from northern Asia, also via the Bering Strait, at the end of the Ice Age.'

The team collect pieces from the 10,000 year old skeleton

Some scientists believe that the Clovis people crossed into America from Asia around 14,000 years ago and gradually made their way down, over many generations to settle in northern Mexico.

Others believe that the first people in America actually crossed from the Pacific on boats, possibly even earlier than the Clovis.

The finds at the caves in Quintana Roo appear to predate earlier Clovis finds from similar areas in Mexico.

The institute is co-ordinating a study of early human migration to eastern Mexico that aims to deepen understanding of the movement of people across the Bering Strait at the end of the last Ice Age.

The Young Hol Chan, named after the cenote where he was discovered, was found in a darkened cave 27 feet beneath the surface.

The remains were found in the Eastern Mexican province of Quintana Roo

Inside the underwater cave in Mexico four years after divers stumbled upon the well-preserved corpse


Skeleton found in Tulum cave at least 9,900 years old, study concludes

A study published Wednesday provides new details about the 2016 discovery of the remains of a woman who lived on the Yucatán Peninsula at least 9,900 years ago.

Divers Vicente Fito and Ivan Hernández found the remains, including a deformed skull, in September 2016 while diving in the Chan Hol cave near Tulum, Quintana Roo. The woman was dubbed Chan Hol 3 because the ancient remains of two other people have been found in the same cave.

The study says that the skull of the woman – one of the earliest known inhabitants of the land that is now Mexico – showed signs of three different injuries, indicating that she was hit with something hard.

Deformations in the form of craters that appear consistent with lesions caused by a bacterial relative of syphilis were also found on the cranium.

“It really looks as if this woman had a very hard time and an extremely unhappy end of her life,” Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, the lead researcher of the study, told the science news website Live Science.

“Obviously, this is speculative, but given the traumas and the pathological deformations on her skull, it appears a likely scenario that she may have been expelled from her group and was killed in the cave, or was left in the cave to die there,” said the professor of biostratigraphy and paleoecology at the Institute for Earth Sciences at Heidelberg University in Germany.

While the woman’s skeleton is only about 30% complete, researchers have established that she was approximately 1.64 meters tall and about 30 years old when she died.

Dating the remains was challenging because her skeleton had no remaining collagen, leading researchers to look at uranium-thorium isotopes in a stalagmite that had become encrusted in the woman’s finger bones. The technique, which isn’t considered the most accurate for determining the age of human remains, enabled the formulation of a fairly reliable estimate about when the woman lived.

While the skull deformations have led researchers to believe that the woman had Treponema peritonitis, a disease related to syphilis, study co-researcher Samuel Rennie told Live Science that the possibility that the cranial irregularities were caused by erosion of the skull while in the cave could not be ruled out.

The researchers plan to carry out a CT scan on the skull to help them reach a more conclusive diagnosis about the lesions and trauma it presents, he said.

Rennie also said that Chan Hol 3 had a slightly longer and narrower brain case and face than other ancient people who lived in the land now known as Mexico.

That suggests that there were at least two different groups of humans living here at the end of the last ice age, he said.

“The two groups must have been very different in aspect and culture,” Stinnesbeck said.

“While the groups from central Mexico were tall, good hunters, with elaborate stone tools, the Yucatán people were small and delicate, and to date not a single stone tool was found.”

Premium content: this page is available only to subscribers. Click here to sign in or obtain access.

Among the millions of Mexicans affected economically by the coronavirus are the country’s artisans. Dependent on tourism for their livelihood, they have been forced to look for alternative means of selling their creations. One option is online sales. With that in mind, Mexico News Daily is supporting efforts by the Feria Maestros del Arte, a non-profit organization in Chapala, Jalisco, to help artisans sell their products online by donating 10% of the revenues from annual subscriptions to the Feria.

Another element of the campaign is a series of stories called Artisan Spotlight that will highlight some of Mexico's talented artisans.

We ask for your support for the Artisans Online project by purchasing or renewing a one-year subscription for US $29.99, of which $3 will help artisans reap the benefits of e-commerce. Please click here for more information about Artisans Online.

Tony Richards, Publisher


9,900-year-old skeleton of horribly disfigured woman found in Mexican cave

The new skeleton found in the underwater caves of Tulum sheds light on the first settlers in Mexico, according to study published on 5 February 2020 at PLOS ONE by Wolfgang Stinnesbeck of Heidelberg University. Underwater exploration of Chan Hol Cave, near Tulum, Mexico. Credit: Eugenio Acevez.

Humans have been living in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula since at least the Late Pleistocene (126,000-11,700 years ago).

We also discovered much of the earliest Mexican settlers from nine well-preserved human skeletons found in the submerged caves and sinkholes near Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Here, Stinnesbeck and colleagues describe a new, 30 percent-complete skeleton, ‘Chan Hol 3’, found in the Chan Hol underwater cave within the Tulum cave system. The woman’s remains were found underwater in the Chan Hol cave, near the city of Tulúm on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

The authors used a non-damaging dating method and took craniometric measurements, then compared her skull to 452 skulls from across North, Central, and South America as well as other skulls found in the Tulum caves.

The analysis showed Chan Hol 3 was likely a woman, approximately 30 years old at her time of death, and lived at least 9,900 years ago.

Her skull falls into a mesocephalic pattern (neither especially broad or narrow, with broad cheekbones and a flat forehead), like the three other skulls from the Tulum caves used for comparison all Tulum cave skulls also had tooth caries, potentially indicating a higher-sugar diet.

This contrasts with most of the other known American crania in a similar age range, which tend to be long and narrow, and show worn teeth (suggesting hard foods in their diet) without cavities.

Though limited by the relative lack of archeological evidence for early settlers across the Americas, the authors suggest that these cranial patterns suggest the presence of at least two morphologically different human groups living separately in Mexico during this shift from the Pleistocene to the Holocene (our current epoch).

The authors add: “The Tulúm skeletons indicate that either more than one group of people reached the American continent first, or that there was enough time for a small group of early settlers who lived isolated on the Yucatán peninsula to develop a different skull morphology.

The early settlement history of America thus seems to be more complex and, moreover, to have occurred at an earlier time than previously assumed.”


9,900-year-old Mexican female skeleton distinct from other early American settlers

Underwater exploration of Chan Hol Cave, near Tulum, Mexico. Credit: Eugenio Acevez.

A new skeleton discovered in the submerged caves at Tulum sheds new light on the earliest settlers of Mexico, according to a study published February 5, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Wolfgang Stinnesbeck from Universität Heidelberg, Germany.

Humans have been living in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula since at least the Late Pleistocene (126,000-11,700 years ago). Much of what we know about these earliest settlers of Mexico comes from nine well-preserved human skeletons found in the submerged caves and sinkholes near Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Here, Stinnesbeck and colleagues describe a new, 30 percent-complete skeleton, 'Chan Hol 3', found in the Chan Hol underwater cave within the Tulum cave system. The authors used a non-damaging dating method and took craniometric measurements, then compared her skull to 452 skulls from across North, Central, and South America as well as other skulls found in the Tulum caves.

The analysis showed Chan Hol 3 was likely a woman, approximately 30 years old at her time of death, and lived at least 9,900 years ago. Her skull falls into a mesocephalic pattern (neither especially broad or narrow, with broad cheekbones and a flat forehead), like the three other skulls from the Tulum caves used for comparison all Tulum cave skulls also had tooth caries, potentially indicating a higher-sugar diet. This contrasts with most of the other known American crania in a similar age range, which tend to be long and narrow, and show worn teeth (suggesting hard foods in their diet) without cavities.

Team from Liverpool John Moores University, UK, involved in the Ixchel skeleton description and comparisons with other Paleoindian skeletons from Central Mexico and Brazil. Dr Sam Rennie (right) and Prof Silvia Gonzalez (left). Credit: Jerónimo Avilés Olguín.

Though limited by the relative lack of archeological evidence for early settlers across the Americas, the authors suggest that these cranial patterns suggest the presence of at least two morphologically different human groups living separately in Mexico during this shift from the Pleistocene to the Holocene (our current epoch).

The authors add: "The Tulúm skeletons indicate that either more than one group of people reached the American continent first, or that there was enough time for a small group of early settlers who lived isolated on the Yucatán peninsula to develop a different skull morphology. The early settlement history of America thus seems to be more complex and, moreover, to have occurred at an earlier time than previously assumed."

  • The skeleton was found in the Chan Hol underwater cave near the city of Tulúm on Mexico's Yucatán peninsula. Credit: Photo: Eugenio Acevez
  • Pieces of the prehistoric skeleton. Credit: Jerónimo Avilés Olguín

9,990-Year-Old Skull May Rewrite Ancient American History

AT NEARLY 4,300 MILES LONG, the Tulum submerged cave system is the longest underwater cave system ever found. It is also arguably the most important when it comes to human history. Nine ancient human skeletons have been found in this underwater labyrinth. And in a study published on Wednesday, scientists announced the discovery of one more.

The newly-found skeleton, dubbed ‘Chan Hol 3,' belonged to a 30-year-old woman who died some 9,990 years ago. Thirty-percent of her skeleton was found preserved in the cave system, at the bottom of 8 meters of fresh water.

The discovery is described in a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Chan Hol 3 was first found in September 2016, during a systematic survey of the caves. To get to her, cave explorers first had to swim past the sites of past ancient-skeleton discoveries, including the 10,000-year-old skeletal remains of a child, and the 13,000-year-old skeletal remains of a young man.

After that discovery, lead investigator and geoscientist Wolfgang Stinnesbeck told Inverse “it looks as if the oldest osteological remains of humans in the Americas are all reported from the Tulum system of submerged caves.”

It is through analysis of these remains that scientists can get a richer, and more accurate, sense of what life was like for the first humans in the Americas. And Chan Hol 3 is helping to shed light on where we have gotten the narrative wrong.

SUBMERGED HISTORY

The Tulum caves have not always been underwater. During the Last Glacial Maximum, which happened around 25,000 to 19,000 years ago, sea level was more than 100 meters lower than today. At that time, parts of the Tulum cave system were likely completely dry — making them accessible to animals and humans.

When deglaciation began, sea levels rose abruptly, submerging the caves. Today, the cave system contains a freshwater layer over seawater. The cave where this skeleton was found likely became water-filled during a period of rising sea levels 8,000 years ago — the result of global warming.

After she was discovered, Chan Hol 3 was treated with distilled water for eight months, slowly dried out, and then photographed. A uranium-thorium dating technique determined its age — a minimum of 9,900-years-old.

The team compared Chan Hol 3's skull to the skulls of 452 individuals' remains, found across North, Central, and South America — including the skulls also found in the Tulum caves. In doing so, they realized that the skulls found in the caves are more round-headed than other contemporary skulls found in Central and North America. Another telling difference between the Tulum skulls and other ancient Americans' remains is the fact that Chan Hol 3, like other Tulum skulls, has teeth with cavities, indicating a diet high in sugar. The other skulls' teeth are mostly cavity-free — suggesting they ate a markedly different diet.

Taken together, the skulls suggest that two morphologically different groups of ancient American peoples lived in this part of the world at the same time — complicating the story of early human settlement of the Americas.

The Tulum skeletons suggest that either more than one group of people reached the American continent during the same time period, or that people have lived long enough on the Yucatan Peninsula for different groups to develop distinct skull morphology.

The latter hypothesis would mean that human settlement of the Americas happened far earlier than previously thought.

It’s generally believed that humans have lived on the Yucatan Peninsula since the Late Pleistocene — between 126,000 to 11,700 years ago. But exactly when humans came to occupy the Peninsula is hotly debated. The “kelp highway” hypothesis supports the idea that the migration happened between 20,000 to 15,000 years ago, while the discovery of a Patagonian human settlement suggests people had made it to South America by at least 18,500 years ago.

Only time — and more discoveries — can reveal our true human history. And the Tulum cave system may provide many more twists in the plot: Just 932 miles of the 4,399 mile-long system has been explored, after all.

Abstract: Human presence on the Yucatan Peninsula reaches back to the Late Pleistocene. Osteological evidence comes from submerged caves and sinkholes (cenotes) near Tulum in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Here we report on a new skeleton discovered by us in the Chan Hol underwater cave, dating to a minimum age of 9.9±0.1 ky BP based on 230Th/Udating of flowstone overlying and encrusting human phalanges. This is the third Paleoindian human skeleton with mesocephalic cranial characteristics documented by us in the cave, of which a male individual named Chan Hol 2 described recently is one of the oldest human skeletons found on the American continent. The new discovery emphasizes the importance of the Chan Hol cave and other systems in the Tulum area for understanding the early peopling of the Americas. The new individual, here named Chan Hol 3, is a woman of about 30 years of age with three cranial traumas. There is also evidence for a possible trepanomal bacterial disease that caused severe alteration of the posterior parietal and occipital bones of the cranium. This is the first time that the presence of such disease is reported in a Paleoindian skeleton in the Americas. All ten early skeletons found so far in the submerged caves from the Yucatan Peninsula have mesocephalic cranial morphology, different to the dolichocephalic morphology for Paleoindians from Central Mexico with equivalent dates. This supports the presence of two morphologically different Paleoindian populations for Mexico, coexisting in different geographical areas during the Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene.


Video, Sitemap-Video, Sitemap-Videos