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Laguna Woman

In 1933, 17-year-old amateur archeologist Howard Wilson, following up on stories that workers had found possible human bones at a Laguna Beach construction site (along St. Ann's Drive), uncovered a portion of a prehistoric human skull and a long bone fragment. It wasn't until 1968 that, at the urging of the venerable Dr. Louis Leakey, these remains were submitted for radiocarbon dating, conducted by the UCLA Geophysics Lab.  Establishing that the skull was that of a female, the Lab dated it at more than 17,000 years old which would make it the oldest human remains found in the North American. The finding prompted a team of anthropologists that same year to excavate the same area where the remains were originally found. It was determined that the area had a great deal of sediment and rock that had, over the centuries, washed down from nearby coastal hills (suggesting that the woman had originally died in the hills). The area also had been significantly developed since 1933, making it difficult to access the original site. No additional prehistoric remains were found. Unfortunately, time and new developments in anthropological dating has eroded support for Laguna Woman to the point where today she is not considered among contemporary anthropologists to be among the oldest human remains in North America.

 

 

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