Re: 9,000-Year-Old Caucasian Found in Seattle!

Paul Myers (
Sat, 14 Sep 1996 14:14:51 -0400

In article <>, (Susan S.
Chin) wrote:

> Ted Rosen ( wrote:
> : Excuse me for failing to produce newspaper accounts of this event, but
> : it seems there's some debate about an ancient skull found in Kendall
> : Park in King County, Washington.
> : Workers were digging in the area and unearthed the skull, which was
> : ferried off to UW for analysis. The scientists in question (sorry, no
> : names yet) pegged this ancient skull as being undoubtedly caucasian. I
> : believe he made this determination by involving some of the well-known
> : tests for skull size/diameter and dentition.
> : Other researchers felt the skull was unusual for the known dwellers of
> : the ancient Northwest, notably ancient members of the quasi-mongoloid
> : Iriquios.

Iriquois? In the Pacific Northwest? That's doubtful right there. And for
any legitimate researcher to use the term "quasi-mongoloid" is sinking even
deeper into doubtfulness.

> : As you might expect, armchair Euro-buffs immediately began to cite the
> : possibility of sea-faring Europeans finding themselves hopelessly
> : marooned among the ancient tributaries and maze-like features of the
> : ancient Puget Sound.

Now we're really getting silly. Norsemen who somehow sailed around Cape Horn
(or did they take the other route, around the Cape of Good Hope and across
the Pacific?) who then stumbled into one little fjord and got lost? And
Puget Sound isn't _that_ convoluted.

> : On one talk show, Norsemen were cited as the possible explorers and
> : the C-14 dating methods questioned. Never mind that the Erickson's
> : adventures took place circa 1000 BP; the scientists must be wrong.
> : As an amateur anthropologist, I'm intrigued, but convinced that the
> : skull is not caucasian. I'm led to understand that subtleties in form
> : are determined by averaging large numbers of specimens to forge a
> : framework for classification. And we all know that not all whites have
> : sharp noses and not all ancient American Indians had flat teeth.
> : If anyone has any news inre this story, I'd love to hear it. In the
> : meantime, I'll cull the local rags for more info.
> : - TR
> Yes, I was very skeptical myself after reading about this in this
> newsgroup last week.
> The key here is VARIATION. Humans within a race vary in morphology just
> as humans across races do. I wouldn't be so quick to call this a white guy,
> er Caucasian male. What characters did they use to determine it was male
> anyway? Let alone that the individual was of European ancestry?

Well, I think the morphological characters that can be used to determine
race are relatively reliable (but of course not 100% certain)...I'd be more
inclined to suspect that the dating is bogus, and that this skull is
of a contemporary individual of European ancestry, of which there are plenty
of examples roaming around Washington state.

Paul Myers Department of Biology Temple University Philadelphia, PA 19122