If you are a creationist and believe that the Earth is just 5000 years old, stop reading now. However, for the rest of humanity there is a very very cool study out on a teenage girl named Naia. Naia is now nearly 13,000 years old. Her skeleton was found in an underwater cave system in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. She is believed to a key link to North Americans who first settled in this continent. (No, she did not look like Naiad of the painting by John William Waterhouse but I like the painting so the researchers will have to forgive me).
Scientists believe that Naia was looking for water in the cave when she fell into a pit in the dark. She is a representative of a people only known as Paleoamericans. James Chatters of Applied Paleoscience, who was the lead author of the study, says that the find establishes that “Native Americans and Paleoamericans share a homeland,” They both lived in an area called Beringia, named after the Bering Land Bridge that existed between Siberia and Alaska. Other finds establish that people from Siberia landed in eastern Beringia between 26,000 and 18,000 years ago. The DNA analysis shows that she has unique markers for North Americans that was passed from mothers to children and stored in the mitochondria. Her mitochondrial DNA belongs to Haplogroup D1, a category only found in the Americas and originally came from an Asian lineage.
Naia’s physical features included an angular head and a small, relatively narrow face.
The cave site was believed to be dry until about 10,000 years ago when it flooded because of glacial melting. They named her Naia after the Greek word for “water nymph.”
This site has some incredible pictures from the cave.