Skeletal Remains Give Scientists Shocking Surprise

Photo courtesy Smithsonian InstitutionPhoto Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution


Skeletal remains of a man found in Washington in 1996 turned out to be quite a shock to the science community.

Based on extensive research, the forensic anthropologists found that this man appeared to have been about 40 years old when he died, standing 5’7″ tall and weighing about 160 pounds. His teeth, though heavily worn down, had no cavities. Six of the ribs on the right side of his body had been broken long before he died, though five never healed. A stone spear-point was found embedded in his hip in a downward arc, which scientists believe means he was attacked from a distance.

Most shocking of all to the scientists were the origins of this man, dubbed the Kennewick Man. He appeared to have been of Polynesian ethnicity, meaning he traveled to Washington long before anyone originally thought prehistoric peoples could have traveled such great distances. According to, carbon-14 dating finds the remains to be about 9,000 years old.

“We’re realizing there are people getting here much earlier than we thought, and coming using different modes of transportation,”

said forensic anthropologist Doug Owsley, from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Controversy over the skeletal remains continues, with one side advocating for the remains to be sent to the local Native American tribes for burial and scientists refusing on the grounds of the man having come from Polynesia. (See here for full story)