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Cave divers have discovered the eerie underwater grave of an ancient woman with a deformed skull who lived on the Yucatán Peninsula around 10,000 years ago. This discovery making her one of the earliest known inhabitants in Mexico.
Traditionally, scientists thought only a group of humans crossed a land bridge connecting Asia to North America around 12,000 years ago. But sinkhole caves in the Yucatán Peninsula have yielded nine other skeletons, including a teenage girl linked to modern native Americans, that suggest humans had already reached that far south by roughly 12,000 years ago.
Back in 2016, explorers discovered ancient female skeleton known as Chan Hol 3 while mapping a cave in the Yucatan Peninsula. The skeleton had tooth cavities, indicating a high-sugar diet and believed she died around 30 years of age. Her cause of death is unknown but from analysing the skull, she did suffer three skull injuries in her life, all of which recovered. She also had crater-shaped deformations on her skull that looked like they were caused by a bacterial infection, like syphilis.
Experts are speculating that she may have been expelled from her group and was killed in the cave, or was left in the cave to die. A more detailed analysis of the skull revealed that it was a round skull with a lower forehead. It was one of the two groups of skulls found in Mexico, and the other was longer. That suggests two human groups is probably with different looks and cultures, but they coexisted in Mexico around 12,000 to 8,000 years ago.
A striking feature of the part of the Yucatán Peninsula is the large complex of submerged caves and sinkholes. Thousands of years ago, these caves and sinkholes served as shelters, and only later did they become inundated. To date, archaeologists have discovered 10 human skeletons in these underwater caves, including the newly discovered Chan Hol 3.
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