National Geographic : 1955 Dec
806 National Geographic Photographer Willard R. Culver Partial Skull of Midland "Man" Appears to Be That of a 12,000-year-old Woman Midland, Texas, near which the fragile fragments were discovered, bestowed its name on this early settler. Her sex was suggested by the small size of the cranium, and her approximate age was determined by geological evidence (page 797). The discolored skull of Tepexpan man, another primitive American, rests on the white box. This middle-aged male lost most of his teeth before he died in Mexico 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. Dr. Frank H. H. Roberts, Jr. (page 793), examines these casts at the National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C . Dr. Roberts, Associate Director of the Smithsonian's Bureau of American Ethnology, gave freely of his knowledge to assure the scientific accuracy of this article and the paintings. Minas Gerais in Brazil shows somewhat better evidence of antiquity. Located under a layer of stalagmite in the rear of a cave, it had been buried under about seven feet of sedi ment evidently washed in by floods from a near-by lake. In the same stratum were bones of an extinct horse and a mastodon. Time Still Obscures Ice Age Man Geological evidence suggests that the sta lagmite dates from a rainy period which both continents experienced after the last great glacial advance in North America. (South America was never covered by ice sheets except in the high Andes and Patagonia.) Nobody knows how long this rainy time lasted. Bones of some of the animals found in the cave are those of creatures fairly abundant in the same region today. The human skull is not very different from those of Brazilian Indians of the present. Still, fluorine tests show it is contemporary with the fossil bones in the same cave stratum. Until new discoveries are made, or new methods are arrived at for evaluating mate rial already in the hands of scientists, the family tree of man in America is doomed to remain a dim tableau of figures glimpsed through the glacial mists of many centuries. Perhaps we shall never know what Sandia man looked like or when the first Asian huntsman walked into the new hunting grounds of North America. But we have learned a little about these first Americans who came from Asia to people the other side of the world. And, slowly, scientists here and there may continue to clear away some of the mist.