Ancient Mystery Solved, Toddler's Remains Are Reburied

Boy's DNA helped point out origins of Native Americans

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jun 30, 2014 2:15 PM CDT | Updated Jun 30, 2014 2:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – The 12,600-year-old remains of a toddler were reburied Saturday in a Native American ceremony after the boy's DNA pinpointed the ancient roots of today's American Indians and other native people of the Americas. The boy's remains were put back as close as possible to the original burial site, which was discovered in central Montana in 1968. Two film crews, about 30 American Indian tribal representatives from Montana and Washington, and others attended the reburial ceremony, the Billings Gazette reported. "I hope that this is the final closure for you, too, as it is for us," said Crow tribal elder Thomas Larson Medicine Horse Sr., addressing the family on whose property the child was found.

The DNA taken from the boy was the oldest genome ever recovered from the New World and proved he was closely related to indigenous Americans. The boy was between 1 and 1½ years old when he died of an unknown cause. Artifacts found with the body show he was part of the Clovis culture, which existed in North America from about 13,000 years ago to about 12,600 years ago and is named for an archaeological site near Clovis, NM. The DNA also indicates the boy's ancestors came from Asia, supporting the standard idea of ancient migration to the Americas by way of a land bridge that disappeared long ago.

This Sept. 2013 image shows the site, marked by a pole at center left, where the remains of a boy from the only known burial site of the Clovis culture was found in western Montana.
This Sept. 2013 image shows the site, marked by a pole at center left, where the remains of a boy from the only known burial site of the Clovis culture was found in western Montana.   (Uncredited)
This Feb. 12, 2014 file image shows visitors examining a Montana Historical Society exhibit showing artifacts discovered at a site at least 12,600 years old.
This Feb. 12, 2014 file image shows visitors examining a Montana Historical Society exhibit showing artifacts discovered at a site at least 12,600 years old.   (Matt Volz)
This undated file photo shows the end of a beveled rod of bone and an incomplete projectile point from a Clovis-era burial site found in 1968 in Montana. The 12,600-year-old remains of a young boy were reburied June 28, 2014.
This undated file photo shows the end of a beveled rod of bone and an incomplete projectile point from a Clovis-era burial site found in 1968 in Montana. The 12,600-year-old remains of a young boy were...   (Sarah L. Anzick)
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