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PLoS One. 2015 Jun 10;10(6):e0127141. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127141. eCollection 2015.

A Re-Appraisal of the Early Andean Human Remains from Lauricocha in Peru.

Author information

1
Department of Anthropology, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America; Historical Anthropology and Human Ecology, University Goettingen, Goettingen, Lower Saxony, Germany.
2
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
3
Curt-Engelhorn-Center for Archaeometry, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
4
Departamento de Humanidades, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Perú
5
Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueológicas y Museo, Universidad Católica del Norte, San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile; Department of Anthropology, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America.
6
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
7
Departamento de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
8
Historical Anthropology and Human Ecology, University Goettingen, Goettingen, Lower Saxony, Germany.
9
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America; Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Abstract

The discovery of human remains from the Lauricocha cave in the Central Andean highlands in the 1960's provided the first direct evidence for human presence in the high altitude Andes. The skeletons found at this site were ascribed to the Early to Middle Holocene and represented the oldest known population of Western South America, and thus were used in several studies addressing the early population history of the continent. However, later excavations at Lauricocha led to doubts regarding the antiquity of the site. Here, we provide new dating, craniometric, and genetic evidence for this iconic site. We obtained new radiocarbon dates, generated complete mitochondrial genomes and nuclear SNP data from five individuals, and re-analyzed the human remains of Lauricocha to revise the initial morphological and craniometric analysis conducted in the 1960's. We show that Lauricocha was indeed occupied in the Early to Middle Holocene but the temporal spread of dates we obtained from the human remains show that they do not qualify as a single contemporaneous population. However, the genetic results from five of the individuals fall within the spectrum of genetic diversity observed in pre-Columbian and modern Native Central American populations.

PMID:
26061688
PMCID:
PMC4464891
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0127141
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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