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São Paulo's Oldest Human Skeleton Belonged to Individual Similar to Present-Day Indigenous Residents

Genetic analysis of the oldest human skeleton, found in São Paulo state in Brazil — named Luzio — shows that the individual was a descendant of the ancestral population that settled in the Americas at least 16,000 years. In a study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers from São Paulo and elsewhere analyzed the genomes of 34 ancient individuals who lived at least 10,000 years ago. These fossils came from four different areas of Brazil's coast and included Luzio, São Paulo's oldest skeleton, found in the Capelinha river midden in the Ribeira de Iguape valley. Based on an analysis of his skull, the researchers previously had believed that Luzio belonged to a population that differed biologically from present-day Amerindians, who settled in Brazil some 14,000 years ago. But now, based on the new DNA analysis, they concluded that Luzio is related to present-day Amerindians. "Genetic analysis showed Luzio as an Amerindian, like the Tupi, Quechua, or Cherokee. That doesn't mean they're all the same, but from a global perspective, they derive from a single migratory wave that arrived in the Americas not more than 16,000 years ago. If there was another population here 30,000 years ago, it didn't leave descendants among these groups," André Menezes Strauss, an archeologist at the University of São Paulo's Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, says in a statement.