6,000-year-old skull found in cave in Taiwan possibly confirms legend of Indigenous tribe

A team of researchers with members from Australia, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam found a 6,000-year-old skull and femur bones in a cave in a mountainous part of Taiwan that might prove the existence of an ancient Indigenous tribe. In their paper published in the journal World Archaeology, the group describes the skull, where it was found and what it might represent.

In Taiwan, there have been stories passed down through the generations about a tribe of short, dark-skinned people that once lived in mountainous parts of the island. But until now, there has been no physical evidence of them. In this new effort, the researchers found a skull and leg bones in a cave that have been dated back to approximately 6,000 years ago—a time before the ancestors of people alive on the island arrived.

In studying DNA from the skull, the researchers found it close to African samples from around the same time period. But they also found that its size and shape resemble that of Negritos, who lived in parts of what is now South Africa and in the Philippines. Study of bones left behind in those areas showed them to be quite short with a small body size. Femur bones found near the skull were from the same person as the skull, a young woman. The researchers estimate she stood approximately 1.3 meters tall.

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