Oldest human skeleton on N. American continent discovered in Otter Tail County
Many of you may have heard of the famous Kennewick man. This was the name given to the remains of a prehistoric man found on the banks of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington, in 1996. Scientists determined that the man lived between 5,0...
Many of you may have heard of the famous Kennewick man. This was the name given to the remains of a prehistoric man found on the banks of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington, in 1996. Scientists determined that the man lived between 5,000 and 9,500 years ago. The man was in his 30s or 40s and, according to the extensive press coverage, resembled Shakespearean and Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart.
At this point, you're probably thinking, 'that's all very interesting, but what's that got to do with Otter Tail County or even Minnesota, for that matter?'
Well, what many locals don't know is that an even older set of human remains was found right here in Otter Tail County, in Pelican Rapids, to be exact.
The "Minnesota Woman" was, at the time in 1931, the oldest human skeleton ever recovered on the North American continent, about 10,000 years old, and was found right by highway 59 near Pelican Rapids.
The bones were found in 1931 putting Pelican Rapids on the national archeological map. A road crew was repairing a frost boil when the remains and two other artifacts were found and put into a box. Much to the dismay of archeologists and anthropologists every where, digging wasn't stopped and scientists weren't called in to properly excavate the area.
Radiocarbon dating determined that the woman came to the area around 6,660 BCE. She was found in excellent condition and some studies were conducted before she was reburied in South Dakota on October 2, 1999, by the Sioux tribes.
The tests, including a DNA test, conducted on her before her reburial determined that she shows no affinity to modern American Indian groups. Her ancestry is one mystery that science cannot answer. Another mystery, perhaps a more intriguing mystery, is that she was found with a conch shell from a snail species known as Busycon perversa. This, in itself, wouldn't be so fascinating if it weren't for the fact that this particular species has only been known to exist in Florida.
Who was this woman? Where did she come from? These questions will never be answered as she is now honorably laid to rest - we can only wonder and use our imaginations.