Scientists have made a reconstruction of a 10,000 year old ancient woman, based on the skeletal remains found near Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Surprisingly, the reconstruction resembles people from Southeastern Asia,rather than Northern Asia.
In 2002, divers discovered the remains of an Ice Age woman at an underwater cave 4.5 km from Tulum, on the Ycutan Peninsula. The well-preserved remains 90% complete are estimated to be between 10,000 and 12,000 years old.
Based on the skeleton, experts have now reconstructed what Mujer de las Palmas (The Woman of the Palms) must have looked like with surprising results. The body structure, skin and eyes are similar to those of Southeast Asia people. According tothe scientists, this reinforces the hypothesis of multiple migration waves to the Americas, not just from Northern Asia but also from the Central and Southern areas. Additional, local ‘micro-evolution’ was just as important as migration.
Based on the skeleton remains, anthropologists and archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology (INAH) concluded the woman named Mujer de las Palmas, after the cave where she was discovered- was 1m52 tall, weighed approximately 58 kilos and was between 44 and 50 years old at time of death.
After extensive study of the skull, the researchers found that its physical features do not correspond with the characteristics of Mexican indigenous population, nor with ancient inhabitants of America. Her face is more similar to people from Southeast Asia, says Alejandro Terrazas, anthropologist at the National University of Mexico.
Terrazassays this indicates that American Continent was populated by several migratory movements, rather than by one or two waves from Northern Asia that arrived through Bering Strait, as most theories say happened.
History is not that simple, there were a lot of movements, Terrazas explains. What Mujer de las Palmas reveals is that there were more migrations from Southern and Central Asia that resulted in a local evolution in America, producing a great diversity of populations that already existed when the Clovis Culture developed (13,500 years ago).
Our position at present, based on the study of Mujer de las Palmas, is that the model of two migrations of Paleoamericans and Amerindians is very limited, he continuous.
Yet, the anthropologist cautioned that although the scientific reconstruction is based on skull measurements and calculations of the muscle and other tissue that once covered her face – one can never be completely sure.
Ten millennia ago, the Yucatan area was very different from the peninsula we know today.The landscape was more desert prairie than jungle, and the Las Palmas cava was not yet flooded. Animals as well as people would havesought shelter and water in the caves.
The reconstruction of la Mujer de las Palmas is on display at the ‘Altered Planet: Climate Change and Mexico’ exhibition in Guanajuato, together with virtual reconstructions of central Mexico’s other ‘oldest remains’: el Hombre de Tepexpan (about 4,000 years old), la Mujer del Pen (more than 10,000 years old) and el Hombre del Metro Balderas (also about 10,000 years old).