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Antiquity of oldest American confirmed.

An ancient skeleton, known as Midland Woman for the Texas town near which she was found, "represents the oldest dated human in the Americas," says Curtis R. McKinney, a geo-chronologist with Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

"Midland Woman was related to the earliest ancestors of every Indian who lives today, and she is very likely the only [known] representative of those who created the Clovis culture" of the earliest Americans, McKinney contends. He dated the remains to 11,600 years ago, plus or minus 800 years.

McKinney's findings support earlier researchers, who argued that the skeleton, discovered by an amateur archaeologist in 1953, represents one of the oldest Americans. Until recently, however, the imprecision of dating techniques made an exact determination of age difficult.

Using an improved process based on the decay of small amounts of radioactive uranium trapped in bones, McKinney dated a 0.5 gram fragment of the skeleton's skull. He also reanalyzed earlier studies to confirm his dates.

While other sites have yielded artifacts that have been attributed to the Clovis culture, Midland Woman represents the first confirmed human remains of this age, McKinney says.
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Title Annotation:Midland Woman skeleton found in Texas
Author:Hoppe, Kathryn
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 14, 1992
Words:188
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