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“Significant Variation” Found in Skulls From Pre-Contact Peru

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Peru-Skull-StudyRALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA—It had long been thought that there was very little skeletal variation among the pre-Columbian peoples in the New World, based upon a sample of individuals from the Yauyos people of the central Peruvian highlands. But anthropologists from North Carolina State University, the University of Oregon, and Tulane University evaluated the facial features of 507 skulls from seven pre-Columbian peoples from Peru, and found significant differences between all of them. “And our work shows that the Yauyos had facial features that were very different even from other peoples in the same region. This raises questions about any hypothesis that rests in part on the use of the Yauyos sample as being representative of all South America,” Ann Ross of North Carolina State University told EurekaAlert. The scientists found that the farther apart the groups lived from each other, the less they looked alike. “Next we want to compare variation across Latin America, to see if we can identify patterns that suggest biological relationships, which could be indicative of migration patterns,” Ross said. To read about more skeletons found in the region, see "Unusual Sacrifices Unearthed in Peru."

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