Some of the greatest discoveries on the planet were accidents, but a whole different kind of accident is revealing the origins of the first Native Americans to modern science.
The skull of a young girl who fell into the Hoyo Negro underwater cave in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is unraveling new details about early Native Americans and their genetic lineage.
The remains of the young girl between 15 to 16 years old were found by a team of experts belonging to Mexican government’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and supported by the Washington-based National Geographic Society. Named ‘Naia’ these remains offer a whole new insight into the world of Native Americans in the both North and South America.
At time, the teen fell into the cave, this region of Mexico was above water and subsequently increasing sea levels turned it into a flooded cave.
The skull of Naia showed “she had a small, narrow face, wide-set eyes, a prominent forehead and teeth that jutted outward”. Genetic markers proved beyond any doubt that her lineage did come from Native Americans.
The latest findings prove the fact that early Native Americans migrated from Asia across the Bering Strait and were not a population of mixed races, like suggested earlier.
Previous theories suggested that Native Americans were “descendants of people who migrated later, perhaps from Europe, Southeast Asia or Australia.”
A team of experts could identity definitively just one genetic marker from her mitochondrial DNA, called mtDNA haplogroup D1. Coming from Asia, this marker is only seen in Native American population spread across Latin and Central America today.