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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2015 Nov;158(3):514-21. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22801. Epub 2015 Jul 14.

Ancient remains and the first peopling of the Americas: Reassessing the Hoyo Negro skull.

Author information

1
Centro Nacional Patagónico, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Bvd. Brown 2915, U9120ACD, Puerto Madryn, Argentina.
2
Departamento de Genética, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 91501-970, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.
3
Faculdade de Biociências, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul. Av. Ipiranga 6681, 90610-001, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.
4
Departamento de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, 31270-910, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

A noticeably well-preserved ∼12.500 years-old skeleton from the Hoyo Negro cave, Yucatán, México, was recently reported, along with its archaeological, genetic and skeletal characteristics. Based exclusively on an anatomical description of the skull (HN5/48), Chatters and colleagues stated that this specimen can be assigned to a set of ancient remains that differ from modern Native Americans, the so called "Paleoamericans". Here, we aim to further explore the morphological affinities of this specimen with a set of comparative cranial samples covering ancient and modern periods from Asia and the Americas.

METHODS:

Images published in the original article were analyzed using geometric morphometrics methods. Shape variables were used to perform Principal Component and Discriminant analysis against the reference samples.

RESULTS:

Even thought the Principal Component Analysis suggests that the Hoyo Negro skull falls in a subregion of the morphospace occupied by both "Paleoamericans" and some modern Native Americans, the Discriminant analyses suggest greater affinity with a modern Native American sample.

DISCUSSION:

These results reinforce the idea that the original population that first occupied the New World carried high levels of within-group variation, which we have suggested previously on a synthetic model for the settlement of the Americas. Our results also highlight the importance of developing formal classificatory test before deriving settlement hypothesis purely based on macroscopic descriptions.

KEYWORDS:

Paleoamericans; craniofacial morphology; geometric morphometrics; recurrent gene flow model

PMID:
26174009
DOI:
10.1002/ajpa.22801
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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