Tulum Beach, Riviera Maya

Face reconstructed of one of 3 oldest human skeletons in Americas found in Tulum

Face reconstructed of one of 3 oldest human skeletons in Americas, found in Tulum.


Mexico City, Jul 23 (EFE).- Mexican and French scientists were able to reconstruct the probable appearance of Las Palmas Woman, one of the three most ancient skeletons in the Americas, found in a flooded cave in southeastern Mexico, the National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, said.

According to the INAH, the reconstructed features of the woman, found in a cave near Tulum in Quintana Roo state, “are similar to those of populations in Southeast Asia, which indicates that the migrations that populated the Americas did not come only from northern Asia but also from the central and southern regions”.

Las Palmas Woman lived during the ice age some 10,000 years ago in what is today the Yucatan Peninsula, and was discovered in 2002 by INAH specialists, the institute said in a communique.

The experts determined that the skeletal remains, found by divers James Coke and Jeronimo Aviles in the Las Palmas cave at some 4.5 kilometers (2 3/4 miles) from Tulum, were those of a woman between 44 and 50 years old, who was 152 centimeters (4 feet, 11 inches) tall and weighed 58 kilos (128 pounds).

The skeleton “was found nearly complete and in a good state of preservation, so that the most advanced studies of forensic anthropology could be performed on it,” the INAH said.

The sculpture of the entire body, done in France, can be seen in the exposition “390 ppm. Changed Planet. Climate Change and Mexico”, in the city of Guanajuato.

Tulum Cave Woamn

Tulum Finding

To date the oldest human remains in the Americas are those belonging to the so-called Naharon Woman, who lived some 11,600 years ago, which were found in a sinkhole in Quintana Roo.

The reconstruction of what that ancient woman must have looked like was done in France’s Atelier Daynes studio following guidelines set by Mexican physical anthropologists.

Also fashioned in that studio was the reproduction of Lucy, a famous fossil of the 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus.

Alejandro Terrazas, physical anthropologist of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, said that the reconstruction of Las Palmas Woman was done according to criteria of forensic anthropology.

The anthropologist said that the physiognomy of the woman did not correspond to the characteristics of Mexico’s indigenous populations nor of the most ancient settlers of the Americas, such as the Paleoamericans and the Amerindians.

On the contrary, “her face is more like the the people of Southeast Asia, such as the Indonesians”, he said.

“What Las Palmas Woman shows us is that there were more migrations from central and southern Asia, from which sprang a local evolution in the Americas that established a great diversity of peoples by the time of the Clovis culture (13,500 years ago)”, Terrazas said.

Nonetheless, the expert cautioned that these are approximations, “because we can never be completely sure what the first settlers of the Americas looked like”.


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