Skip to comments.Early (Ancient) Hair Sample Raises Questions
Posted on 07/14/2004 8:21:37 PM PDT by blam
Early hair sample raises questions
Posted: July 26, 2000 - 12:00am EST
WOODBURN, Ore. (AP) - Under a small Woodburn city park may lie the answer to who are the earliest Oregonians yet discovered.
Scientists have found an ancient strand of hair in Woodburn's Front Street Park - a human hair that may have been left behind before modern American Indians settled in North America a few thousand years ago.
The hair, found in a core sample during a June 1999 dig, could be one of the oldest found in the Western United States, said Alison Stenger, director of the Institute for Archaeological Studies.
"We came out with a dirt clod and inside the dirt clod was a human hair 14 inches long," she said. "It was so old there was no pigment."
While scientists have yet to determine its age, the layer of soil it was in dates back 11,000 to 12,000 years.
The soil beneath the park is part of an ancient buried wetland, one of three being studied by Stenger and scientists from the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. The other sites are Mammoth Park, adjacent to Woodburn High School, and Legion Park, near Highway 214.
The hair raises the question of just who peopled North America first.
Some scientists are beginning to believe the first people may not have genetically resembled American Indians.
"I'm absolutely convinced that there were multiple populations here and the hair represents one of those populations," Stenger said. Those populations could have been here long before modern American Indians appeared, she said.
Given current theories that all humans migrated from elsewhere, the term "Native American" could be an oxymoron, said Cleone Hawkinson, a physical anthropologist with Friends of America's Past.
And the fact that a population lived in the New World once doesn't mean their descendants exist today. "The hardest thing for people to understand is how long ago this was. There was a high probability that groups would die out," she said.
Within weeks, scientists will know whether the hair is related to modern Native American gene types, said Lori Baker, doctoral student in anthropology who specializes in ancient DNA testing.
"There are five founding haplotypes among Native Americans. A haplotype is a type of DNA pattern," she said. "What I'm doing now is trying to determine if this hair has any of those (patterns)."
There a chance, however, the hair could have come from a lost civilization - off the DNA map. "It could be that we had other people in the Americas that weren't related to modern Native Americans at all," Baker said.
Because she has to essentially destroy the hair to extract its DNA, she has to be selective about how many - and which - DNA patterns she can test for. "What I'll do first is compare them to ones most likely - ancient Asian haplotypes," she said.
Scientists have long known Woodburn may hold treasures of the past. In the 1950s, a scientist by the name of E.J. Packard began to recognize the Mill Creek flood plain near Woodburn High School as a paleontological gold mine because of the buried network of ancient wetlands. The anaerobic bog has a neutral acidity level, which preserves otherwise perishable remains such as strands of human hair, Stenger said.
But the site remained untouched until 1987, when a utility trench uncovered scores of bones from animals that lived thousands of years ago - bones of sloth, mammoth, horse, bear, giant bison and dire wolf from thousands of years ago.
Scientists believe the Woodburn area may have among the best preserved ancient layers of soil in the Pacific Northwest.
Coyoteman, do you know anything about this?
Don't know but there is other research that has been supressed by orthodox archeology that show there were ancient civilizations on the continent up to a half-million years ago.
Oh, oh. Better destroy the evidence REAL quick, especially if the DNA proves Caucasian. Look what happened with the Kennewick Man - the Feds destroyed the area while the Indians screamed that it was one of them and should be interred again, no questions asked.
Otherwise the guilt trip laid on us for "stealing" land from the original owners goes out the window, along with all that lovely taxpayer money.
No, seriously . . . Why didn't the hair decompose? I could see it surviving in ice maybe, like the hair on a frozen woolly mammoth.
Just asking. Seems so unlikely to me.
From the article: "The anaerobic bog has a neutral acidity level, which preserves otherwise perishable remains such as strands of human hair, Stenger said." Obviously, you didn't read to the end.
Hey, Rennes, I am one of those archaeologists you're talking about and we're not supressing anything!
As for the article you posted, blam, I emailed an archaeologist in that area when I saw this here a year or so ago but got no answer. I have emailed him again so maybe I can find out what this is all about.
Current research is supporting the early coastal migration theory, that suggests different origins for the early coastal cultures and those who came somewhat later via the land bridge through central Canada. Details are still being worked out (as usual), but mtDNA is starting to point in that direction as well.
which makes this observation from the article interesting: "It was so old there was no pigment." (Sounds blond to me, or possibly grey hair - like the person whos head it came from was grey?)
Kennewick Man has not been destroyed, just the site where he was found. A judge recently ruled that the scientists can study him...the Indians are appealing, again.
Interview William Orr, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus in Geology, University of Oregon, and Director of the State Museum of Paleontology, Eugene, Oregon: "You can identify human hair, forensic criminologist types, can identify human hair from a single strand because of the granules and color and all that kind of stuff. You can distinguish human hair from all other hair just from a little piece of follicle. Strand of sixteen-inch-long, dark, human hair retrieved from the Woodburn, Oregon Ice Age archaeological site. DNA analyses of hair follicles found at the site have so far failed to find a match with any known human racial type living on earth today. Photograph © 2001 by Alison Stenger, Ph.D. We found several strands of human hair, long pieces a foot and a half long, black, long pieces of hair. And then if you can find the root of the hair that still has a follicle, you can do DNA on it. So researchers immediately sent the (Ice Age) hair off to a lab and they began to extract the DNA. Some of it was not so good, but a lot of it was well preserved in the oxygen-poor bogs of Woodburn. The geneticists found the hair didn't match any Asian hair DNA. It didn't match African, European. It didn't match anything. Dogma would be that Ice Age humans along the west coast of the United States would be from a Japanese population that is alleged to have come over the Bering Sea back twelve to thirteen thousand years ago. So right now we have DNA we can't track. We can't figure out what it's from. Apparently from a population we don't have today. They are gone. And it's only 11,000 or 12,000 years old. About that time period, there was a huge crisis in animals. The larger animals all disappeared and they disappeared in a wave. They disappeared first in British Columbia and then in Washington, Oregon, California and right on down. Some were still around until 10,000 years ago in Tierra del Fuego. So, it was like a wave of extinction at the rate of about 10 miles per year.
Thanks for the update, it's still two years ago though. Please call...and let me know the results. Thanks.
Excellent info, thanks.
I wonder if it has been compared to the DNA of Kennewick Man? Kennewick Man's DNA points to the Ainu in Japan in origin.
This is interesting.
No pigment? Is this another blond joke?
A blond woman's house catches on fire. She calls the Fire Department...
Blond: "Send help! My house is on fire!"
Dispatcher: "How do we get there?"
Blond: "Duh! Big red truck!"
Thank you. Thank you very much...
Last I heard, they were unable to obtain any DNA from Kennewick Man. Maybe with the new studies they will. Would be interesting to compare with Arlington Springs Woman, but so far they have no DNA there either.
We live in interesting times. Thirty years ago some folks had everything figured out, but now things are up in the air again. That's what keeps us going! You never know what the next dig will produce.
Yep, skimmed it and missed that part, thanks.