For all of you interested in the in the history of archaeological research of Lagoa Santa, we are proud to announce the publication of English translation of the edited volume published last year in Portuguese. The volume presents 17 chapters reviewing the research, curatorship, and excavations done by a wide range paleontologists, archeologists, and anthropologists, from the initial work by the Danish naturalist Peter Lund, in the 19th Century, to the current research led by Walter Neves and his team. The volume is divided in two parts, with the first one compiling chapters revising the history of research in the region, and the second developing further the different research topics that are still being explored in Lagoa Santa. Together, the chapters provide for the first time in English the historical context of the rich history of research in Lagoa Santa, and demonstrate the great diversity of research being conducted in this fascinating region of Brazil about the earliest human occupants of South America.
The Pursuit for the First Americans
By: Mark Hubbe, March 2017
Since the arrival of Europeans to the New World, scholars have wondered who were the first humans to settle the Americas, where they came from, and when did they get to the continent. Surprisingly, these questions have been hard to answer, and still today, five centuries later, there is still debate about them. In our recent article “Evolutionary population history of early Paleoamerican cranial morphology”, published in the journal Science Advances, Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, André Strauss, and I try to contribute to this discussion, by studying the morphology of Early American skulls from Lagoa Santa, and comparing them to other populations around the planet. Cranial morphology has been used for a long time to explore the biological relationships among deceased individuals when DNA is not available, and is a powerful way to study the biological histories of ancient populations. When comparing the shape of skulls from different populations, we are then able to reconstruct their history by establishing how related two groups are. In this particular study, we compare the cranial morphology of skeletons from Lagoa Santa (Central Brazil), dated to between 10 and 8 thousand years ago, to reference populations from the Americas and the other continents. Our analyses suggest that the Americas must have been occupied by at least two dispersion waves coming from Asia through the Bering Strait. Otherwise, it is very hard to explain the amount of morphological diversity you observe among Native American populations over the last ten thousand years. This article is the last one in a series of articles that show that the Early Americans look different from most current Native American populations, and it is the first to explore the origins of these differences in a powerful evolutionary framework based on 3D data.
Want to know more? Check out the article here: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/2/e1602289