First Americans
Sat, 25 Sep 1999 15:50:56 +0000

While I was away in England, news broke out in the press of the work on
ancient American skulls by Walter Neves, of the University of Sao Paolo
Brazil. I had just heard of him in August and fortunately had ordered his
article from the Journal of Human Evolution.

The press reports concern a Brazillian skull found in 1975 that is 11,500
years old but does not show the mongoloid characteristics of the the
American Indians which Columbus et al found in the New World. The skull
has characteristics that are Australian, implying that Australians were the
first inhabitants of the New World. The woman who owned the skull has been
named Luiza after Lucy, the Australopithecine found by Donald Johanson.

The Mongoloids invaded South America in 7000 BC. During the past four years
more than 50 skulls predating that invasion have been found and they all
show affinities with Australian aboriginies. One of the press reports states:

"Luzia was reconstructed by Richard Neave, a forensic artist
from the University of Manchester, for Ancient Voices, a
BBC2 documentary to be shown next week. Neave's
reconstruction backed up Neves's calculations: "That to me is
a negroid face. The proportions of the face do not say
anything about it being Mongoloid."

The article describes how the Australians would have reached the New World:

"The theory that Aborigines could have travelled by water to
the Americas has been given further credence by the
discovery of a painting of an ocean-going vessel in Western
Australia, which is 20,000 years old. The 4,000-mile journey
between Australia and South America can still be undertaken
with relatively short island hops."

This paragraph slightly overstates the case because the South Pacific was
being peopled and objects traded as long as 30,000 years ago. (Clive
Gamble, Timewalkers, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), p. 228).
A painted ocean-going boat was not required to know that people were
regularly crossing the ocean.

In his earlier work Neves wrote:

"In the majority of the bivariate and multivariate analyses we have
carried out, the first South Americans showed a remarkable similarity to
Australians, and to a lesser degree to Africans. Consequently we have
suggested elsewhere that the first Americans cannot be described as
Mongoloids. Independent results using different methodologies and other
paleoindian skull samples, this time from North America, amply confirm the
results we obtained with samples from South America."
"When the first Americans were compared with a series of contemporaries of
the Upper Pleistocene of the Old World, they showed some morphlogical
similarity to Upper Cave hominids." Walter Neves and Hector Pucciarelli,
"The Zhoukoudian Upper Cave Skull 101 as seen from the Americas," Journal
of Human Evolution 34(1998):219-222., p. 219.


"The most economic way of interpreting these results is in our opinion to
assume that people very similar to the native populations that presently
occupy most of South Asia and Australia once dominated all of Eastern Asia,
and departed to the Americas befoe the differentiation of Mongoloids in the
Old World, a conclusion also recently reached by Cornell & Jantz. In this
scenario, Zhoukoudian Upper Cave hominids (including UC101) should be seen
as part of this non-Mongoloid population." Walter Neves and Hector
Pucciarelli, "The Zhoukoudian Upper Cave Skull 101 as seen from the
Americas," Journal of Human Evolution 34(1998):219-222., 220-221

The Zhoukoudian Upper Cave people are believed to be 25,000 years old (see
Chris Stringer and Clive Gamble, In Search of the Neanderthals, (New York:
Thames and Hudson, 1993), p.139).

This type of data has some implications for the status of the Kennewick man
in the Pacific Northwest which is now the subject of a lawsuit between
scientists, who want to study the remains, and the Army Corp of Engineers
who want to return it unstudied to Native American Groups for reburial. He
also does not look mongoloid.

What are the implications, if any, to the creation/evolution controversy?
Indirectly, this is simply another case where the activities of our ancient
ancestors has been underrated. This poor opinion of primitive peoples
extends back into the distant past when we are speaking of the
Neanderthals, and H. erectus.

"Dennis Stanford, chairman of the anthropology department at
the Natural Museum of History in Washington DC, believes
the capability of prehistoric peoples has long been
underestimated. "Way back then they weren't really 'cave'
people, they were pretty sophisticated," he said. "I think
Neolithic people were doing a whole lot more than we give
them credit for; they were just as smart as you and I, they just
did different things."


Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

Lots of information on creation/evolution