Mexico: Scientists have reconstructed the face and the probable appearance of the Las Palmas Woman, one of the most ancient skeletons in the Americas, found in a cave in Mexico.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History said the reconstructed features of the woman, found in a cave in Quintana Roo state, 'are similar to those of populations in Southeast Asia, which indicates that migrants not only came from northern Asia but also from the central and southern regions'.
The Las Palmas Woman lived during the ice age some 10,000 years ago in what is today the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico, and was discovered in 2002 by specialists from the institute.
Mexican and French experts determined that the skeletal remains, found by divers James Coke and Jeronimo Aviles in the Las Palmas cave, 4.5 km from Tulum, were those of a woman between 44 and 50 years old, who was 152 cm tall and weighed 58 kg.
The skeleton 'was found nearly complete and in a good state of preservation, so that the most advanced studies of forensic anthropology could be performed on it', the institute said.
The sculpture of the entire body, done in France, can be seen in the expo in Guanajuato city.
To date, the oldest human remains in the Americas are those belonging to the so-called 'Naharon Woman', who lived some 11,600 years ago, which were found in a sinkhole in Quintana Roo.
The reconstruction of what that ancient woman must have looked like was done in France's Atelier Daynes studio following guidelines set by Mexican physical anthropologists.
Also fashioned in that studio was the reproduction of 'Lucy', a famous fossil of the 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus.
'The reconstruction of the Las Palmas Woman was done according to criteria of forensic anthropology. The physiognomy (face) of the woman did not correspond to the characteristics of Mexico's indigenous population nor of the most ancient settlers of the Americas, such as the Paleoamericans and the Amerindians,' Alejandro Terrazas, physical anthropologist of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said.
On the contrary, 'her face is more like the people of Southeast Asia, such as the Indonesians', he said.
'What Las Palmas Woman shows us is that there were more migrations from central and southern Asia, from which sprang a local evolution in the Americas that established a great diversity of people by the time of the Clovis culture (13,500 years ago),' Terrazas said.
However, the expert said these are approximations, 'because we can never be completely sure what the first settlers of the Americas looked like'.