Mystery Of Ancient ‘Kennewick Man’ Skeleton May Soon Be Solved

kennewick man

It’s been called the most important ancient human skeleton ever unearthed in North America. But “Kennewick Man”–so named because it was found in 1996 along the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Wash.–is also one of the most mysterious such skeletons.

Scientists have offered lots of opinions about the 9,500-year-old skeleton, but no one could figure out for sure who he was and where he came from. That’s about to change, thanks to DNA analysis of the skeleton now under way in Denmark.

Some scientists have argued that Kennewick Man had Caucasian features. To others, he seemed Polynesian. Still others thought he might have been an ancestor of modern-day Native Americans–and they seem to be correct.

“The DNA results, from what I’ve heard–I haven’t seen the full research yet, it’s not been published–say that Kennewick Man matches our standard understanding of contemporary Native Americans,” Dr. Peter Lape, curator of archeology at the Burke Museum in Seattle, which houses the skeleton, said in an interview with KUOW, an NPR station in Seattle. “There’s nothing in Kennewick Man’s DNA to show he’s anything but related to contemporary Native Americans.”

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