Monday, March 7, 2011

Signs of early life found

Some 11,500 years ago one of America's earliest families laid the remains of a three-year-old child to rest in their home in what is now Alaska. The discovery of that burial is shedding new light on the life and times of the early settlers who crossed from Asia to the New World, researchers report in the journal Science. The bones represent the earliest human remains discovered in the Arctic of North America, a "pretty significant find," said Ben A. Potter of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The site of the discovery, Upper Sun River, is in the forest of the Tanana lowlands in central Alaska, Potter and his colleagues report. He said the find, which included evidence of what appeared to be a seasonal house and the cremated remains of the child, "is truly spectacular in all senses of the word. Before this find, we knew people were hunting large game with sophisticated weapons, but most of the sites we had to study were hunting camps."

Based on its teeth, the child was about three years old, according to archaeologist Joel Irish, also of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The researchers were not able to determine the sex of the child from the bones, Potter said.

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