Luzia Woman is the name for the skeletal remains of a prehistoric woman found in a cave in Brazil, South America. Some archaeologists believe the young woman may have been part of the first wave of immigrants to South America. Named 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.
Although dozens of skeletons have emerged from the caves dotting Lagoa Santa in eastern Brazil, this one in particular has recently caused a stir—25 years after it was dug up from a 40-foot-deep pit.
New dating of the bones have determined that 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.
Her facial features include a narrow, oval cranium, projecting face and pronounced chin, leading Brazilian anthropologists to theorize that Luzia's predecessors traveled across the Bering Strait, perhaps following the coastline by boat, from northeast Asia, where her ancestors had lived for tens of thousands of years since human migrations from Africa. Dr. Walter Neves, anthropologist at the University of São Paulo, suggests that Luzia belonged to these people who began arriving in the New World as early as 15,000 years ago. Anthropologists have variously described her features as African, Australian aborigine, Melanesian, or Negrito. A facial reconstruction of Luzia's face was made by Richard Neave of Manchester University who stated that "I personally would stick my neck out and say it is conclusive support for his [Neve's] findings and demonstrates without any doubt at all" that Luzia was of non-Mongoloid origin. Continue reading here
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