An intriguing 9,900-year-old skeleton discovered in the flooded caves of Tulum is creating quite a stir amongst researchers. The Yucatan Peninsula is usually related to the Maya civilization. But arising archaeological proof indicated this area was established thousands of years previously by some of the first humans to reach in the Americas. As a recent study resurfaces, we found out how significant such a discovery is. It’s displaying complex yet essential data of that period in human history.
A Skeleton With a Complicated Past
The skeleton, dubbed Chan Hol 3, one of a woman who passed away in her 30s, displays some remarkable features that indicate the area was inhabited by at least two communities of early Mesoamerican habitants. The people are believed to be the ones who made the region almost 8,000 years before the Maya first reach the area.
Such skeleton, however, is part of one of the most ancient human fossils to be discovered anywhere in the Americas. It is, unfortunately, a big issue, because it has to do with the dating procedure utilized. So, bones that have been flooded for too long are scattered of their organic tissue, known as collagen. Carbon dating becomes an uncertain hypothesis at best.
New Tools for Research
The Heidelberg University from Germany came in help by utilizing another approach to date the skeleton. The process is currently 30 % done.
“We used an indirect dating technique from physics. This method is based on t radioactive decay of uranium and its conversion into thorium,” stated Wolfgang Stinnebeck, the lead author of the research.
Researchers could date the uranium-thorium isotopes of a lime fragment that resurfaced on Chan Hol 3’s finger bones when the cave was still dry. So, the solid calcite layer was formed due to water dripping from the cave ceiling. The dating was declared to be 9,900 years old, and clearly, the body became “skeletonized,” before the shells could occur, to it could be older than this.