World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0015582906
Reproduction Date:

Title: Luzia  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Clovis culture, Botocudo people
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Luzia Woman (Portuguese pronunciation: [luˈzi.ɐ]) is the name for the skeleton of a Paleo-Indian woman found in a cave in Brazil. Some archaeologists believe the young woman may have been part of the first wave of immigrants to South America. Nicknamed Luzia (her name pays homage to the famous African fossil "Lucy", who lived 3.2 million years ago), the 11,500 year-old skeleton was found in Lapa Vermelha, Brazil, in 1975 by archaeologist Annette Laming-Emperaire.[1]


Luzia was originally discovered in 1975 in a rock shelter by a joint French-Brazilian expedition that was working not far from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The remains were not articulated. The skull, which was separated from the rest of the skeleton but was in surprisingly good condition, was buried under more than forty feet of mineral deposits and debris.

There were no other human remains at the site; Luzia appeared to have died alone. But more than forty other skeletons from the same general period have been found in a nearby area called Lagoa Santa. Brazilian scientists hope to be able to test Dr. Neves's migration theory by doing radiocarbon dating on some of these remains. Among these bones was an unusual, and undated, calotte (skullcap) that somehow simply disappeared.[2]

New dating of the bones have determined that Luzia is one of the most ancient American human skeletons ever discovered. Forensics have determined that Luzia died in her early 20s. Although flint tools were found nearby, hers are the only human remains in Vermelha Cave.

Phenotypical analysis

Her facial features include a narrow, oval cranium, projecting face and pronounced chin, strikingly dissimilar to most native Americans and their indigenous Siberian forebears. Anthropologists have variously described Luzia's features as resembling those of Negroids, Indigenous Australians, Melanesians and the Negritos of Southeast Asia. Walter Neves, an anthropologist at the University of São Paulo, suggests that Luzia's features most strongly resemble those of Australian Aboriginal peoples. Richard Neave of Manchester University, who undertook a facial reconstruction of Luzia (see the photograph above), stated that"that's a negroid face to me" and "I personally would stick my neck out and say it is conclusive support for his [Neves'] findings and demonstrates without any doubt at all" that Luzia was not closely related to Siberian peoples.[3]

Neves and other Brazilian anthropologists have theorized that Luzia's Paleo-Indian predecessors lived in South East Asia for tens of thousands of years, after migrating from Africa, and began arriving in the New World, as early as 15,000 years ago. Some anthropologists have hypothesized that Paleo-Indians migrated along the coast of East Asia and Beringia in small watercraft, before or during the last Ice Age.

Neves' conclusions have been challenged by research done by anthropologists Rolando Gonzalez-Jose, Frank Williams and William Armelagos who have shown in their studies that the cranio-facial variability could just be due to genetic drift and other factors affecting cranio-facial plasticity in Native Americans.[4][5][6]

A comparison in 2005 of the Lagoa Santa specimens, with modern Botocudos of the same region, also showed strong affinities, leading Neves to classify the Botocudos as Paleo-Indians.[7]


Luzia stood just under five feet tall—about one-third of her skeleton has been recovered. Her remains seem to indicate that she died either in an accident or as the result of an animal attack. She was a member of a group of hunter-gatherers who subsisted largely on fruits and berries, and probably an occasional piece of meat.

See also


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.