10,000-Year-Old Skeleton Found in Undersea Caribbean Cave

Diver in caveAnthropological research on an ancient skeleton may cause scientists to rethink ideas about the peopling of the Americas: who were the first humans to live in the region, and where they came from. The skeleton, estimated to be more than 10,000 years old, was discovered in an underwater cave along the Yucatán coast south of Cancún in 2006. It has finally been brought to the surface to undergo more extensive study.

Dubbed the “Young Man of Chan Hol” – the skeleton is thought to be that of a young male—it is believed to date to the last Ice Age, when the caves were well above sea level. The discovery in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo supports the idea that multiple groups of prehistoric nomads crossed the Bering land bridge between Alaska and northeastern Asia at different times. Both this skeleton and another found nearby possess anatomical markers that link them to South Asian people, rather than the North Asian ancestors of other early Native Americans.

Before being moved from the cave, the skeleton was studied closely by scuba-diving archaeologists for any and all clues that might be revealed from its surroundings. Evidence of bonfires and the unusual position in which the bones were found indicate that the corpse may have been placed there during a funeral rite. The skeleton includes bones of the arms, legs, and torso, as well as the skull and several teeth. The relative lack of wear on the teeth suggests a young age at time of death. Lab tests should provide a more precise age, verification of its sex, and possibly even the cause of death.

Related Links

  • Undersea Cave Yields One of Oldest Skeletons in Americas
    This article documents the archaeological discovery of the “Young Man of Chan Hol”; includes an interactive map of ancient human migration and a link to a story on the other, even older skeleton found in 2008 in a similar Caribbean cave.
    (Source: National Geographic, September 14, 2010)
  • Mexican Archaeologists Examine Burial Site Over 10,000 Years Old
    This account of the archaeological discovery is from a regional online newspaper.
    (Source: Latin American Herald Tribune, September 28, 2010)
  • Settlement of the Americas
    This encyclopedia article provides an overview of the debates over the early settling of the Americas, exploring strengths and weaknesses of various theories in terms of supporting evidence.
    (Source: Wikipedia; accessed September 30, 2010)

34 Comments

  1. Jeff says:

    THIS IS COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. bob says:

    this is interesting

  3. Michelle Malpica Salgado says:

    i very interesting>>>>>>>> ok

  4. but face says:

    i kno rite

  5. good girl says:

    omg so cool

  6. bum face says:

    this is so cool i wish i found that then i would be rich i wish i wish then i would be famous and ever one would know me and i would be on tv and would not be going to the school i go to know and thats cass st man why didnt i find it iam so mad if you would have like to find this then put a comment thank you this is ms.nelson

  7. beatles says:

    weird but cool HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. tk says:

    next we will be looking for the lochness monster

  9. purple pancakes says:

    this is a cool story i loved it

  10. pink pancakes says:

    this is cool i cant wait to read it!!

  11. julie says:

    thiss is really wierd

  12. adrianna says:

    i think this is verry intresting and i like it

  13. blood.gang.killer says:

    Awh man that was my father…

  14. crip. gang. killer. says:

    thats my father too….

  15. ladybugg says:

    I find it amazing that a skeleton can remain recognizable after so many years underwater. pretty coll. though!

  16. Carter01 says:

    The findings of this skeleton is very historical. Im sure that there will be more questions and answers as more research is done. I loved this article… Wish I would have found it!

  17. JimBob says:

    ………

  18. Kroniki says:

    AWESOME!!!!!!! <3

  19. Courtney says:

    thats so coooool

  20. bonifa says:

    shut upp

  21. bubbleface says:

    hehehehehehhe

  22. robin says:

    I think I’m going to enjoy this site. These are interesting articles, and the related links are relevant.

  23. Zofia says:

    This looks cool. Though i wouldn’t disturb the dead.

  24. WWK.GANG.KILLER says:

    Weep Weep that was my great great grandfather

  25. Alexis says:

    This was really interesting and cool though i would never disturb the dead either.

  26. Justin C says:

    This article remided me a lot of the Otzi the Iceman finding with the skeleton being preserved!

  27. iamsocool says:

    never disturb the dead

  28. Jayden says:

    coooooooooooooll

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