Study of the DNA extracted from the girl’s wisdom tooth sheds light on a longstanding debate about the origins of the Western Hemisphere’s first people and their relationship to today’s Native American populations.
The findings, reported in today’s journal Science, support the theory that modern Native American populations are directly related to Ice Age humans who first crossed into the Americas over a land bridge linking Siberia to Alaska between 26,000 and 18,000 years ago, rather than from separate migrations from different parts of Eurasia.
In 2007, divers exploring a cave deep beneath the jungles of Mexico’s eastern Yucatán peninsula discovered the girl’s nearly complete skeleton alongside bones of more than two dozen beasts including sabre-toothed tigers, cave bears, giant ground sloths and an elephant relative called a gomphothere.
The divers named her “Naia”, a water nymph from Greek mythology. Via Skeleton reveals secrets of New World’s first people