Lost and Found: The First Americans

Fascinating new evidence about the first Americans. I’d say this is of political as well as academic import, because there is a fringe discourse in United States politics that claims Native Americans aren’t really descendants of the ‘original’ settlers of the continent, and therefore – by strange contortion of the logic of causality – the crimes and atrocities committed against them by Spanish and English settlers should count for even less than the minute amount it already does.

The remains that prove people of Asian origin came to the US and became its first settlers were found at the bottom of an underwater cave called the Hoyo Negro. Along with human bones – that led to the reconstruction of the teenage girl Naia – the dark cave holds bones of “at least 26 Ice-age animals”. Thrilling, isn’t it? Almost like The Lost World, but this time, the real deal.

Here are crucial snapshots from the article, all taken from the National Geographic online archive.

Photograph by Timothy Archibald. Re-Creation: James Chatters, Applied Paleoscience; Tom McClelland Divers who discovered her bones named her Naia. A facial reconstruction reveals that the first Americans didn’t look much like later Native Americans, though genetic evidence confirms their common ancestry.
Photograph by Timothy Archibald. Re-Creation: James Chatters, Applied Paleoscience; Tom McClelland
Divers who discovered her bones named her Naia. A facial reconstruction reveals that the first Americans didn’t look much like later Native Americans, though genetic evidence confirms their common ancestry.
Photograph by Paul Nicklen The bones of at least 26 Ice Age animals—including those of an elephant-like gomphothere—litter the floor of Hoyo Negro.
Photograph by Paul Nicklen
The bones of at least 26 Ice Age animals—including those of an elephant-like gomphothere—litter the floor of Hoyo Negro.
Photograph by David Coventry Simple blades and other stone tools discovered at a 15,500-year-old campsite in what is now central Texas provided clinching evidence that the first Americans arrived at least 2,500 years earlier than previously thought. Chert was an essential rock for toolmaking because of the way it flakes.
Photograph by David Coventry
Simple blades and other stone tools discovered at a 15,500-year-old campsite in what is now central Texas provided clinching evidence that the first Americans arrived at least 2,500 years earlier than previously thought. Chert was an essential rock for toolmaking because of the way it flakes.
Photograph by Erika Larsen Tribal leaders gather in Montana to rebury the 12,600-year-old bones of a boy known as the Anzick child. His DNA confirmed that today’s Native Americans are direct descendants of the first Americans.
Photograph by Erika Larsen
Tribal leaders gather in Montana to rebury the 12,600-year-old bones of a boy known as the Anzick child. His DNA confirmed that today’s Native Americans are direct descendants of the first Americans.
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