Printer Friendly

Prehistoric human bones found in cave.

Researches announced this month that they have identified a partial skeleton found in a Colorado mountain cave as that of a 35- to 40-year-old man who died about 8,000 years ago.

Radiocarbon dating of the human remains indicates that they are among the oldest ever found n North America. The frozen man recently found in the Austrian Alps met his demise about 5,300 years ago (SN: 4/18/92, p.253). The new discovery also provides the earliest North American evidence of high-altitude human activity: The bones lay in a cave more than 10.000 feet above sea level.

"It was thought until recently that people from that time period [around 8,000 years ago] were only passing through this region by way of the mountain passes," says Patty Jo Watson of Washington University in St. Louis, lead archaeologist on the 19-member team that studied the ancient remains. "But this new evidence suggests that this man spent quite a bit of time in the area and clearly knew his way around."

The remains, discovered in 1988, include the skull cap, several arm and leg bones, a few ribs and vertebrae, pelvic fragments, four fingers bones, and 11 teeth.

This skeletal array was strewn about 1,000 feet from the cave's small entrance, located at the end of a narrow, winding passageway that requires considerable skill to negotiate. Smudge marks on the cave walls and charcoal fragments on the clay floor suggest that the man entered the earthen chamber with a torch, Watson maintains.

Her team found no ritual objects or other signs of burial in the cave. The cause of the man's death remains unclear, she adds.

Preliminary DNA analysis of a small bone sample shows a genetic arrangement characteristic of some Native American groups now living in regions south of Canada, Watson notes.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:oldest human remains ever found in North America discovered in Colorado mountain cave
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 23, 1993
Previous Article:The nine-month arthritis 'cure.' (rheumatoid arthritis symptoms disappear during pregnancy)
Next Article:Ancient ape swings into kin clash.

Related Articles
The culture of the cave people.
Neandertals take a big step back in time.
Child's bones found in Neandertal burial.
Cave finds make point about early humans.
Ancient Site Holds Cannibalism Clues.
Scarlet symbols emerge in Israeli cave.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters