Monday, December 12, 2005

Did Early Americans Come from Australia and Africa?

Brian
We were all taught in school that the earliest inhabitants of North and South America, ancestors of Native Americans, came across a land bridge from Siberia. Now scientists are suggesting that there is strong evidence in the form of skulls from Brazil refuting that theory:
While the skulls of Native Americans and Northern Asians—the descendents of the early Siberian settlers—generally feature short, wide crania, a broader face, and high, narrow eye sockets and noses, this collection was remarkably different.

The skulls belonging to the earliest known South Americans—or Paleo-Indians—had long, narrow crania, projecting jaws, and low, broad eye sockets and noses. Drastically different from American Indians, these skulls appear more similar to modern Australians, Melanesians, and Sub-Saharan Africans.

This indicates that these skulls—which date to 7,500 to 11,000 years ago—were not merely anomalies but rather were the majority, supporting the hypothesis that two distinct populations colonized the Americas.
Link. For decades, a vocal minority have argued that the Olmec heads, monuments from one of the earliest civilizations in Mexico, one of which is pictured above, possess facial features resembling Africans and suggested that the heads were evidence of early contact between civilizations in Africa and the New World. Now real human heads might support the same theory.

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Image credits: Massive Olmec Head by Mexican Wave, acquired via Creative Commons license.

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