Picture of the skull of a young woman believed to be an early American

Naia, one of the oldest skeleton ever found in the Americas (Hoyo Negro, Mexico), is  the earliest one intact enough to provide a foundation for a facial reconstruction. Geneticists were even able to extract a sample of DNA. Looking at the skeletal remains of Paleo-Americans, more than half of men have injuries caused by violence, and four out of ten have skull fractures. The wounds seem to be the result of the violent fight among them. The women don’t have these kinds of injuries, but they’re much smaller than the men, with signs of malnourishment and domestic abuse.

According to the archaeologist Jim Chatters, co-leader of the Hoyo Negro research team, these are all indications that the earliest Americans were what he calls “Northern Hemisphere wild-type” populations: bold and aggressive, with hypermasculine males and diminutive, subordinate females. And this, he thinks, is why the earliest Americans’ facial features look so different from those of later Native Americans. These were risk-taking pioneers, and the toughest men were taking the spoils and winning fights over women. As a result, their robust traits and features were being selected over the softer and more domestic ones evident in later, more settled populations.

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Skeletal remains suggest that Paleo-American men ate better, grew larger and lived much longer than women, most of whom died before age 26. Modern native American men have tended to be smaller than their ancestors, and women larger as we can see in the picture.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/first-americans/hodges-text

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/first-americans/clues-graphic

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