Apr 22, 2019 | Updated: 08:16 AM EDT

Mexico's 12,000-Year-Old Teenage Girl Unravels Many Past Mysteries

Apr 03, 2017 07:33 AM EDT

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May 15, 2014--- The skeleton of a teenage girl who lived during the last ice age has been determined to be the oldest most complete human skeleton ever discovered in the New World.
(Photo : YouTube/vNational Geographic )

A recent discovery of a 12000-year-old skeleton from a Mexican underwater cave can lead researchers to see the origin of the first Americans in a new light. The skeleton, as per the researchers, belongs to a girl named Naia.

According to NBC News, the DNA derived from the bones of Naia and the shape of her skeleton are evidence to the fact that there has been only one major migration to the Americas. The migrating people took to an ancient land bridge that covered what is known as "Beringia". Researchers who found the bones have also compared Naia's story with that of Lucy, the 3.2 million-year-old human ancestor. Like Naia, the researchers had found Lucy's bones in an Ethiopian cave 40 years ago.

Till now, researchers were of the opinion that the first Americans were descendants of the ancient people who traveled from Siberia over the now-submerged land bridge. However, discoveries like that of the 9300-year-old skeleton of the "Kennewick man", which was found on the banks of the Columbia River in 1996, led the researchers confused as it pointed towards the entry of the ancient Americans known as "Paleoamericans"  from various routes like the Africa and South Pacific.

According to The Washington Post, the mitochondrial DNA derived from Naia was tested to find out a genetic marker that is commonly present among the Americans. This provides strong enough evidence to prove the Native Americans and Paleoamericans both belong to the same "Beringia" population. However, the Native Americans did not look like the Paleoamericans, their facial features and skull structure being different from each other, which created confusion in some researchers' minds.  

The skeleton was found by three divers inside a 150-feet deep hole in the "Hoyo Negro" cave, about five miles inside Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It is assumed that when Naia was alive, the cave was dry only having pools of water inside it. Now it is completely flooded with fresh water inside it.

A series of tests made it possible to understand the actual age of Naia's bones. Reportedly, the bones and skull have been moved to a research institute. Researchers opine that the studies on the skull and bones can bring out more interesting facts about the ancient Americans to the fore.

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