8. Non-Ancestral Americans
Some of the oldest human remains from the Western Hemisphere were forgotten for decades in a museum. They belonged to a woman, nicknamed Luzia, who traveled the Brazilian savanna 11,500 years ago. She is believed to have died in her early twenties.
In 1999, a scientist noticed the unusual skull and had it digitally brought back to life. It was assumed that Luzia would resemble the ancestors of native peoples from North and South America. Previous studies entrenched the theory that these initial Americans migrated from northern Asia.
When Luzia’s cranium was turned into a face, however, she could not have looked more different. Instead of the expected Mongoloid look, her traits were distinctly like the blacks of Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific. This ancient Brazilian could prove that another group, separate from other indigenous people in the Americas, was among the earliest to arrive.
Another 37 other skeletons were found in what could be the oldest American graveyard at nearby Lagoa Santa. These 37 individuals appear to have Luzia’s features and were analyzed in 2005. But there are still competing theories as to where Luzia originated.