Cosmos Magazine Media Release | 1 October 2010
The skull of 'Luzia woman', the oldest human remains found in South America on the cover of COSMOS issue 35.
STARTLING NEW archaeological finds are set to rewrite the record books, suggesting that the Americas were settled more than 11,000 years ago by the first Australians.
A detailed investigation in the October issue of COSMOS, Australia’s #1 science magazine, details the astonishing discovery of scores of ancient human remains in Brazil, Chile and Florida – some more than 11,000 years old – with cranial features distinctive of Australian Aborigines.
The oldest of the skeletal remains, dubbed Luzia, are of a young woman who died in her twenties and was ceremonially buried in a cave complex in Central Brazil. She was among a large collection of material first uncovered in 1975 by a Brazilian-French archaeological team, who disbanded in acrimony after the sudden death of its leader.
The remains were not examined until he late 1990s by a group led by Walter Neves of the University of Sao Paulo, who was surprised to discover that Luzia’s skull looked sharply different from the Mongoloid cranial morphology distinctive of people of East and North Asian origin and of Native Americans.
A reconstruction of her face by British forensic experts, based on her skull and its distinctive characteristics, shows Luzia had a cranial morphology almost identical to Australian Aborigines.
COSMOS Deputy Editor Jacqui Hayes, who travelled to Brazil to research the nine-page cover story, recalls seeing the evidence with her own eyes.
“When I was in the lab, I was amazed to walk around the reconstruction of Luzia’s skull, which clearly looked Aboriginal, and yet realise this was found a world away and was so very ancient,” she said. “Clearly, ancient humans did a lot more than we give the credit for.”
A video of Luzia’s skull reconstruction can be found here.