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Cave Girl

May 19, 2014

Scientists discover a nearly intact 12 thousand-year-old skeleton in a Yucatán cave.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A cave of wonders. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

 A broad view of Hoyo Negro, shot from the floor near the south edge, showing the immensity of the chamber and the complexity of the boulder-strewn bottom. One access tunnel can be seen near the ceiling at top left. Photo by Roberto Chavez Arce


Hoyo Negro cave, showing the immensity of the chamber and the complexity of the boulder-strewn bottom. (Roberto Chavez Arce)

About 12,000 years ago, a young woman entered a cave in the eastern Yucatán peninsula, fell from an upper passage, fractured her pelvis and died. Now, in the journal Science, scientists and expert divers report finding her skeleton, along with the bones of saber toothed cats, primitive elephants and other long extinct beasts, in the now submerged cave. James Chatters of Applied Paleoscience, says the discovery is a bonanza.

James Chatters (Applied Paleoscience):

It’s gonna tell us about the human life, animal life, and plant life of Ice Age Central America.It’s a time capsule that is absolutely unequaled.

HIRSHON:

With a large forehead, wide-set eyes, and flattened nose, the woman would have looked very different from modern Native Americans, but Chatters says that her DNA shows she is descended from the same population that came to the Americas from Siberia during the last Ice Age. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.