Letters to Nature

Nature 425, 62-65 (4 September 2003) | doi:10.1038/nature01816; Received 19 February 2003; Accepted 19 May 2003

Craniometric evidence for Palaeoamerican survival in Baja California

Rolando González-José1, Antonio González-Martín2, Miquel Hernández1, Héctor M. Pucciarelli3, Marina Sardi3, Alfonso Rosales4 & Silvina Van der Molen5

  1. Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat de Biologia, Secció d'Antropologia, Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
  2. Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Área Académica de Historia y Antropología, 42000 Pachuca, México
  3. Departamento Científico de Antropología del Museo de La Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 1900 La Plata, Argentina
  4. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Centro INAH Baja California Sur, 23000 La Paz, México
  5. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Facultat de Ciències, BAVE, Unitat de Zoologia 08193, Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain

Correspondence to: Rolando González-José1 Email: rolandogonzalez@ub.edu

A current issue on the settlement of the Americas refers to the lack of morphological affinities between early Holocene human remains (Palaeoamericans) and modern Amerindian groups, as well as the degree of contribution of the former to the gene pool of the latter1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. A different origin for Palaeoamericans and Amerindians is invoked to explain such a phenomenon3. Under this hypothesis, the origin of Palaeoamericans must be traced back to a common ancestor for Palaeoamericans and Australians, which departed from somewhere in southern Asia and arrived in the Australian continent and the Americas around 40,000 and 12,000 years before present, respectively. Most modern Amerindians are believed to be part of a second, morphologically differentiated migration3. Here we present evidence of a modern Amerindian group from the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico, showing clearer affinities with Palaeoamerican remains than with modern Amerindians. Climatic changes during the Middle Holocene probably generated the conditions for isolation from the continent, restricting the gene flow of the original group with northern populations, which resulted in the temporal continuity of the Palaeoamerican morphological pattern to the present.