Luzia Woman (Portuguese pronunciation: [luˈzi.ɐ]) is the name for an Upper Paleolithic period skeleton of a Paleo-Indian woman who was found in a cave in Brazil. Some archaeologists believed the young woman may have been part of the first wave of immigrants to South America. The 11,500-year-old skeleton was found in a grotto in Lapa Vermelha, Pedro Leopoldo, Great Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1974 by archaeologist Annette Laming-Emperaire. The nickname "Luzia" pays homage to the Australopithecus fossil "Lucy". The fossil was kept at the National Museum of Brazil, where it was shown to the public until it was fragmented during a fire that destroyed the museum on September 2, 2018. On October 19, 2018, it was announced that most of Luzia's remains was identified from the Museu Nacional debris, which allows them to rebuild part of her skeleton.
Remains as displayed at the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro
|Catalog no.||Lapa Vermelha IV Hominid 1|
|Species||Homo sapiens sapiens|
|Age||11,243–11,710 cal BP|
|Place discovered||Belo Horizonte, Brazil|
|Discovered by||Annette Laming-Emperaire|
Luzia was originally discovered in 1974 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 (12 meters) 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 were the only human remains found in Vermelha Cave.
The fossil of Luzia was believed to have been destroyed when the National Museum burned, according to officials, but firefighters later discovered a human skull within the burned museum. On October 19, 2018 it was announced that the Luzia skull was indeed found, but in a fragmented state. 80% of the fragments were identified as being part of the frontal (forehead and nose), side, bones that are more resistant and the fragment of her femur that also belonged to the fossil and was stored. A part of the box that contained Luzia's skull was also recovered. The reassembly of the bones has not yet been undertaken.
Her facial features included a narrow, oval cranium, projecting face and pronounced chin, strikingly dissimilar to most Native Americans and their indigenous Siberian forebears. Anthropologists 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, suggested that Luzia's features most strongly resembled those of Australian Aboriginal peoples. Richard Neave of Manchester University, who undertook a forensic facial reconstruction of Luzia, described it as negroid.
Neves and other Brazilian anthropologists theorized that Luzia's Paleo-Indian predecessors lived in South East Asia for tens of thousands of years after migrating from Africa and began arriving in the New World as early as 15,000 years ago. The oldest confirmed date for an archaeosite in the Americas is 18,500 and 14,500 cal BP for the Monte Verde site in southern Chile. Some anthropologists have hypothesized that a population from coastal East Asia migrated in boats along the Kuril island chain, the Beringian coast and down the west coast of the Americas during the decline of the Last Glacial Maximum. In 1998, Neves and archaeologist André Prous studied and dated 11,400 years for the skull of Luzia after naming her.
Neves' conclusions have been challenged by research done by anthropologists Rolando González-José, Frank Williams and William Armelagos, who have shown in their studies that the cranio-facial variability could just be due to genetic drift and other factors affecting cranio-facial plasticity in Native Americans.
Researchers recreated the skull of Luzia with 3D printers by studies resumed in a laboratory of the National Institute of Technology (INT) by master's and doctoral students of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
In November 2018, scientists of the University of São Paulo and Harvard University released a study that contradicts the alleged Australo-Melanesian physical appearance of Luzia. Using DNA sequencing, the results showed that Luzia had Mongoloid features.
Luzia stood just under five feet (1.5 m) tall; about one-third of her skeleton has been recovered. Her remains seem to indicate that she died when she was approximately 20 years old, either in an accident or as the result of an animal attack. She was a member of a group of hunter-gatherers.
- Collection of fossils in the National Museum of Brazil
- Genetic history of indigenous peoples of the Americas
- Settlement of the Americas
- Human remains
- Archeological sites
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- Media related to Luzia Woman at Wikimedia Commons