This skull caused a stir of controversy around it. Some of the general public are passionately against the scientific and anthropologist findings till this day. The fossilized cranium has now been identified by Brazilian scientists as the oldest human remains ever recovered in the Western Hemisphere.
Anthropologists have variously described Luzia’s features as resembling those of Negroids, Indigenous Australians, Melanesians and the Negritos of Southeast Asia. Walter Neves, an anthropologist at the University of São Paulo, suggests that Luzia’s features most strongly resemble those of Australian Aboriginal peoples. Richard Neave of Manchester University, who undertook a facial reconstruction of Luzia described it as negroid.
Luzia Woman is the name for an Upper Paleolithic period skeleton of a Paleo-Indian woman who was found in a cave in Brazil. Some archaeologists believe the young woman may have been part of the first wave of immigrants to South America. Nicknamed Luzia her name pays homage to the famous African fossil “Lucy“, who lived 3.2 million years ago), the 11,500-year-old skeleton was found in Lapa Vermelha, Brazil, in 1975 by archaeologist Annette Laming-Emperaire.
Luzia was originally discovered in 1975 in a rock shelter by a joint French-Brazilian expedition that was working not far from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The remains were not articulated. The skull, which was separated from the rest of the skeleton but was in surprisingly good condition, was buried under more than forty feet of mineral deposits and debris.
There were no other human remains at the site. New dating of the bones announced in 2013 confirmed that at an age of 10,030 ± 60 14C yr BP (11,243–11,710 cal BP). Luzia is one of the most ancient American human skeletons ever discovered. Forensics have determined that Luzia died in her early 20s. Although flint tools were found nearby, hers are the only human remains in Vermelha Cave.
A cast of Luzia’s skull at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
For decades it has been believed that the first peoples to populate North and South America crossed over from Siberia by way of the Bering Strait on a land-ice bridge.
However, a new study examining the largest collection of South American skulls ever assembled suggests that a different population may have crossed the bridge to the New World 3,000 years before those Siberians.
Scientists occasionally discover skulls in South America that look more like those belonging to indigenous Australians and Melanesians than Northern Asians, but researchers tend to regard these skulls as anomalies due to natural variation rather than a norm, mainly because there were too few to study.
Now scientists have compared 81 skulls from the Lagoa Santa region of Brazil to worldwide data on human variation.
The skulls belonging to the earliest known South Americans–or Paleo-Indians–had long, narrow crania, projecting jaws, and low, broad eye sockets and noses. Drastically different from American Indians, these skulls appear more similar to modern Australians, Melanesians, and Sub-Saharan Africans.
This indicates that these skulls–which date to 7,500 to 11,000 years ago–were not merely anomalies but rather were the majority, supporting the hypothesis that two distinct populations colonized the Americas.
In the last two decades, archaeologists have found an 11,000-year-old skull in Brazil, human DNA by way of feces in a cave in Oregon, evidence of humans in coastal Chile as long as 14,800 years ago, and spearheads in Texas that could date human arrival in the Americas to 15,500 years ago. Most of the manmade artifacts found in these disparate sites lack the signatures of the Clovis people.
“The logical way people could have come to Florida by 14,600 years ago is if their ancestors entered the Americas by boat along the Pacific Coast,” Waters told Discovery News.
“They could have travelled by boat to central Mexico, crossed and come along the Gulf Coast. They could have entered the Americas via the Columbia river and then travelled inland to the Mississippi river and followed it down and entered the Gulf Coast, eventually making their way to Florida.”