The Discovery of These 10 Prehistoric Women Has Intrigued Anthropologists for Years
The world we live in is full of history buried deep in its surface, waiting to be discovered. Even the sand, the water, some plants and trees are as old as history itself.
With each new discovery, we learn more about the life of prehistoric humans. And the discovery of these 10 women might just be the most intriguing of all.
1. Minnesota Woman
Discovered near a road construction site in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, it was determined that Minnesota Woman's remains were at least 8,000 years old. Some construction crew wanted to just discard the bones and keep on working, but crew member Carl Steffen insisted they make "a man out of it." The bones turned out to be that of a woman.
Scientists believed that she was a hunter as she carried a dagger made from an elk's horn. She was also wearing a shell pendant, believed to be a talisman, made from a snail local only to Florida. Broken clam and mussel shells covering Minnesota woman's body and the fact that the construction site where she was discovered was an extinct glacial lake, made scientists to conclude that she drowned. Her body was amazingly preserved under a layer of sediment at the lake's bottom, with her skeleton still mostly intact. She was later reburied by the Sioux tribe in 1999.
2. The Hobbit
The "hobbit" 30-year-old female whose remains were uncovered in the Liang Bua cave on the remote Indonesian island of Flores in 2003. She's not what you'd call pretty, but she is definitely distinctive," said anthropologist Susan Hayes.
She had lived 18, 000 years ago, at a time when modern man was colonizing the rest of the world. With a height of 3 feet, the Hobbit or Homo floresiensis is believed to be biologically closely related to modern humans. The female hobbit's skeleton is almost intact, and bones of different individuals from the species have also been discovered, astonishing scientists who previously believed that Homo Sapiens were the only human species walking the earth tens and thousands of years ago.
Homo floresiensis has a brain the size of a grapefruit - closer to brain size of today's chimpanzee. Yet they were species who lit fire, made stone tools and hunted in groups. Some scientists even suggest that the Hobbit is actually a modern human with Down's Syndrome, a suggestion that sparked massive controversy.
Taoua's 1000-year-old mostly intact skeleton was found on a beach in White Bay, Carribean in 2011.
Scientists believe she died of blood poisoning from a tooth decay. She was also found with several broken ribs, although they were already healed when she died. Her joints showed signs of severe use and she has a deformed spine, indicating osteoarthritis. Based on the findings on her skeleton, Taoua seemed to have lived a very rough life, but an otherwise healthy one.
4. Penon Woman
Penon woman died 13,000 years ago during the last ice age, at the age 26. Her skeleton was discovered in Mexico City, but the cause of her death still remains a mystery.
Her bones showed that she lived a healthy life, showing no signs of malnutrition. Interestingly, her skull, which was rather long and narrow, doesn't resemble modern native American skulls or even the skulls of other very early American fossil remains, but her DNA conclusively linked her to Native Americans.
Mother's 7,700-year-old remains were discovered in Siberia in 1997. She is considered the first example of a woman who died by childbirth and may be the oldest confirmed mother of twins. You see, the tiny bones of two babies were found inside Mother's womb. During the delivery of the first baby, its feet got stuck causing the death of all three.
The young mother, was buried lying on her back with several marmot teeth beside her. She is believed to be a member of a transient hunter-gatherer group, who seldom have formal cemeteries.
6. The Arlington Springs Woman... or Man?
In 1959, the remains of the Arlington Springs man was discovered in California. However, it was later discovered that the Arlington Springs man is actually a woman. But in 2006, the scientists who had determined it was a woman 40 years earlier, redacted their claim and stated that it really was a man. Make up your minds, guys.
Either way, the Arlington Springs human proved that prehistoric man used boats, which supported the theory that early Americans moved by sea rather than by land. The Arlington Springs person probably lived with a tribe of fishermen and scavengers rather a group of big game hunters.
Lucy's skeleton was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and is believed to be 3.2 million years old. She's 3.5 feet tall and was the oldest known human skeleton until the discovery of Ardi.
Lucy is considered the most famous fossil of all time, and rightly so, considering that her discovery revolutionalized the way we think about human evolution. Before 1974, we believed that human intelligence predated our ability to walk upright, but Lucy proved that it was actually the opposite.
Lucy had a small brain, long arms, short legs and quite a large belly. As a fully grown 21-year-old female, she's just about 3.5 feet tall and only weighed 27 kilograms. Not quite near the statistic of modern adult women. But the structure of Lucy's pelvis and knees suggested that she walked on two legs, placing her in the human category. Lucy's human-like wisdom tooth are among the things that were used to determine her age.
X-woman lived in Siberia 40,000 years ago. The only part of her that was found was her pinky finger. Actually, scientists aren't 100% sure that the pinkie finger belonged to a woman. Further studies made anthropologists believe that the pinkie finger actually belongs to a child.
X-Woman marks the first time a new type of human species has been discovered through DNA testing only. And the DNA extracted from X-Woman's finger is distinctly different from DNA taken from Neanderthals or from modern humans, which suggests that a third type of human species exists. The new species is called H. Denisovans after the cave X-Woman was discovered (see photo below).
The Ardipithecus ramidus fossil or Ardi's remains were found in 125 separate pieces, which included her skull and teeth. Ardi's remains are 4.4 million years old, making her the oldest hominid skeleton ever found.
Ardi's about 4 feet tall and weighs about 50 kilograms. She had a small brain but very long arms and fingers. Her opposable big toe allows her to moved through the trees by holding onto branches. Ardi walked upright.
The discovery of Ardi disproved the theory that humans have evolved from early chimps. We now know that humans and chimps have separately evolved from a common ancestor.
10. The Red Lady
The Red Lady was found in Spain and is 18,700 years old. Her bones were found covered in a pigment called ochre, hence the name Red Lady. The pigment, which did not come from a local source, was probably used as part of a burial ritual or used to preserve the body. Her body was found buried in a small space at the back of the cave - but only after it had decomposed. Meaning, she wasn't buried immediately after death. The Red Lady was give an elaborate burial, suggesting that she might be special in some way.