The 10,000-year-old boy's bones found in an underwater Mexican cave that could rewrite the history of the Americas

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:49 AM on 25th August 2010


The remains of a prehistoric child that were found in an underwater cave in Mexico four years ago have now been removed by a team of divers.
The skeletal remains of the boy, dubbed the Young Hol Chan, are more than 10,000 years old and are among the oldest human bones found in the Americas.
Scientists hope that the well-preserved corpse will offers clues to ancient human migration.
An archaeologist takes a picture of the skeleton of a child found 
at the bottom of an underwater cave near Tulum
An archaeologist takes a picture of the skeleton of a child found 
at the bottom of an underwater cave near Tulum
An archaeologist takes a picture of the skeleton of a child found at the bottom of an underwater cave near Tulum

The corpse was discovered in 2006 by a pair of German cave divers who were exploring unique flooded sandstone sinkholes, known as cenotes, common to the eastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
He appears to have been a young boy and was found with his legs bent to his left side and his arms extended to either side of his body.
No other ancient skeleton has ever been found in this position.
Scientists spent three years studying the remains where they lay before deciding it was safe to bring the skeleton to the surface for further study.
Anthropologists from the National Automonous University of Mexico think that the body was placed in the cave in a funeral ceremony performed late in the Pleistocene epoch when the sea level was around 488 feet lower than it is today.
The divers after the body was removed from the cave.
The divers after the body was removed from the cave. Scientists say that this finding will reveal information on how the continent was populated
Experts recovered 60 percent of the skeleton, including bones from both arms and legs, vertebrae, ribs, the skull and several teeth - all fantastically preserved,
Divers have also found the partial skeletons of three other people, known as the Woman of Naharon, the Woman of Las Palmas and the Temple Man, all of which were discovered inside other flooded caves,

Scientists believe that the latest discover 'strengthens the hypothesis that the American continent was populated starting with several migrations coming from Asia'.

In an announcement the university said that the burial sites 'reveal migrations coming from southeastern Asia before those known up to now as Clovis groups, which are said to have crossed from northern Asia, also via the Bering Strait, at the end of the Ice Age.'
The team collect pieces from the 10,000 year old skeleton
The team collect pieces from the 10,000 year old skeleton
Some scientists believe that the Clovis people crossed into America from Asia around 14,000 years ago and gradually made their way down, over many generations to settle in northern Mexico.
Others believe that the first people in America actually crossed from the Pacific on boats, possibly even earlier than the Clovis.
The finds at the caves in Quintana Roo appear to predate earlier Clovis finds from similar areas in Mexico.
The institute is co-ordinating a study of early human migration to eastern Mexico that aims to deepen understanding of the movement of people across the Bering Strait at the end of the last Ice Age.
The Young Hol Chan, named after the cenote where he was discovered, was found in a darkened cave 27 feet beneath the surface.
Quintana Roo
The remains were found in the Eastern Mexican province of Quintana Roo
Inside the underwater cave in Mexico four years after divers 
stumbled upon the well-preserved corpse
Inside the underwater cave in Mexico four years after divers stumbled upon the well-preserved corpse
 
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Paul, Rochester
Just under 50% of the population has below average intelligence. Thats an unbelievably stupid mistake to make when you are sneering at others .... You don't even know what average means.
- G, UK, 25/8/2010 20:20

To be perfectly fair though - he did not specify whether he was speaking of the mean, modal or median average. It also depends which population he is talking about and what reference sample is being used to compare this average.

Most people in the UK have a below average (mean) salary because a relatively small number of extremely high earners skew the mean upwards. IQ tests (a rather controversial measurement of intelligence) reveal that some countries have populations with mean average IQ's that are also skewed and significantly different to those in other countries.

Although unlikely to be an accurate figure, it is in fact perfectly possible that only 25% of the UK population possess an IQ score below the global mean average.
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Surely we need to know the market value of his cave?
Click to rate     Rating   2
Mild-mannered, that is a perfectly reasonable question.

Life processes on earth produce the atom carbon, which accumulates in the atmosphere, converts to an isotope called carbon14, which enters plant life. This carbon 14 is ingested by animals and can be found in any organic matter.

Carbon14, once ingested, has a half life that can be measured in time, and this can tell us how long ago the Carbon14 entered the lifeform being studied. However results have to be set against an independent calibration curve for greater accuracy (data involving marine data and also tree-ring data) to get the best answer. Its never an exact year, but a range of dates that gets wider the further back in time you go. Also it can only be used on biological material, like bones, not stone or glass.

Carbon dating is really useful but as I remember is only truly reliable up to 30,000 yrs ago. Beyond that several other scientific methods are used and results compared to get an average region.
Click to rate     Rating   18
Paul, Rochester
Just under 50% of the population has below average intelligence. Thats an unbelievably stupid mistake to make when you are sneering at others. Also note that intelligence is not the same as knowledge - the guy simply asked if someone would be kind enough to summarise the science, which doesn't make him stupid.

Perhaps you could explain the complexities of marine diet, limestone caves and unusual atmospheric conditions, or the correction algorithms applied.

But I doubt it. You don't even know what average means.
Click to rate     Rating   90
Actually I think you will find nearer 50 percent of the population are below average intelligence....
Click to rate     Rating   15
I hope Mexico doesn't have it's own interpretation of NAGPRA, or those bones are going to vanish and never be seen again.

And Sue, UK; it's not that archaeologists love ritual or religion particularly, it's just it looks better to write "ritual" than "weird."
Click to rate     Rating   16
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