The First Human Settlers on the Yucatan Peninsula: Evidence from Drowned Caves in the State of Quintana Roo (South Mexico)

Kelly E. Graf
Caroline V. Ketron
Michael R. Waters


Prehistoric evidence from submerged caves and sinkholes (cenotes) on the Yucatan peninsula provides strong evidence for the existence of an early preceramic human settlement in southern Mexico. During our ongoing paleoanthropological research we have already documented three well-preserved human skeletons as old as 13,000 and 9000 years from these sites in Quintana Roo (Gonzalez et al. 2008a, Gonzalez et al. 2008b). The findings were associated with hearths and a diverse megafaunal assemblage of late-Pleistocene age. A fourth human skeleton was discovered in 2009, two more in 2010, and two others in 2011. Here we provide a first register of these additional five skeletons, bringing the total assemblage to eight. A ninth skeleton was informally reported from the same area by INAH researchers. These findings thus constitute one of the largest databases on bones of early humans in Mexico.