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See The Shocking Faces Of The First Americans

Scientists have pieced together one of the oldest skeletons to ever be found in the Americas. From the January issue of National Geographic magazine.

Posted on January 9, 2015, at 11:54 a.m. ET

You're looking at the face of one of the first Americans. Meet "Naia." She is around 13,000 years old.

For the first time ever, you are able to gaze into eyes of one of the first Americans, thanks to research lead by archaeologist Jim Chatters.
Timothy Archibald/National Geographic Re-Creation: James Chatters, Applied Paleoscience; Tom McClellan / Via ngm.nationalgeographic.com

For the first time ever, you are able to gaze into eyes of one of the first Americans, thanks to research lead by archaeologist Jim Chatters.

Her story is a tragic one. She was only a teenager when she met her demise by falling in this underwater cave in Yucatán, Mexico.

The cave was mostly dry when Naia died around 12,000-13,000 years ago. The cave is so immense and mysterious, that it's appropriately nicknamed "Hoyo Negro," which means "dark hole."
Paul Nicklen / Via ngm.nationalgeographic.com

The cave was mostly dry when Naia died around 12,000-13,000 years ago. The cave is so immense and mysterious, that it's appropriately nicknamed "Hoyo Negro," which means "dark hole."

Mexican divers found her bones in 2007.

So, it's only fitting that the divers named her Naia, as a homage to water nymphs in ancient Greek mythology. Remarkably, the divers discovered the oldest, most intact skeleton, so far, in the Americas. Her bones were so well-preserved that researchers were able to reconstruct her face and get a DNA sample.
Paul Nicklen / Via ngm.nationalgeographic.com

So, it's only fitting that the divers named her Naia, as a homage to water nymphs in ancient Greek mythology.

Remarkably, the divers discovered the oldest, most intact skeleton, so far, in the Americas. Her bones were so well-preserved that researchers were able to reconstruct her face and get a DNA sample.

Her genetic marker revealed a link to an isolated group that came from Asia.

But her life in the Americas was most-likely difficult and harsh. Archaeologist Jim Chatters told National Geographic that her society was extremely violent. Males were tough, frequently engaged in fights, and dominated females, which may explain the "strong" features of Paleo-Americans.
Art by Jon Foster / Via ngm.nationalgeographic.com

But her life in the Americas was most-likely difficult and harsh. Archaeologist Jim Chatters told National Geographic that her society was extremely violent. Males were tough, frequently engaged in fights, and dominated females, which may explain the "strong" features of Paleo-Americans.

Read more about Naia here.

The Hoyo Negro project was led by the Mexican government’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and supported by the National Geographic Society.
National Geographic / Via ngm.nationalgeographic.com

The Hoyo Negro project was led by the Mexican government’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and supported by the National Geographic Society.

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