Go East, Kennewick Man

By Bower, Bruce | Science News, May 15, 1999 | Go to article overview

Go East, Kennewick Man


Bower, Bruce, Science News


An approximately 8,400-year-old skeleton, discovered in Washington State in 1996, quickly gained renown for having a skull more reminiscent of Europeans than of Native Americans or their presumed northeastern Asian ancestors. Like a number of other ancient human finds in North and South America, the individual dubbed Kennewick Man didn't look like a New World pioneer was supposed to look.

New studies, however, support the traditional view that early settlers of the Americas--including Kennewick Man--hailed from Asia, not Europe. The sites of origin and the number and timing of their migrations remain controversial.

"There was lots of anatomical variation in the teeth and skulls of ancient New World inhabitants," says Joseph E Powell of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. "But in those features, they looked more like later northeast Asians and Polynesians than like Europeans or Native Americans."

Powell compared cranial and dental measures for 37 New World "paleoindian" finds placed at between 8,000 and 11,700 years old, 938 "archaic" New World specimens dating back a few thousand years, and samples of modern humans from around the world. …

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