The first Americans were descended from Australian aborigines, according to new evidence presented in a BBC documentary. The program, called Ancient Voices, shows that the dimensions of prehistoric skulls found in Brazil match those of the aboriginal peoples of Australia and Melanesia. Researchers have found evidence that they were later massacred by invaders from Asia, who became our American Indians.

Until now, it was assumed that native Americans were descended from Asians who arrived over a temporary land bridge between Siberia and Alaska that was formed 11,000 years ago during the ice age, when the sea level dropped. Eventually they traveled down into the lower part of North America and then on into Central and South America. It?s been thought that their descendents make up the indigenous peoples of those lands today.

Archeologists thought these immigrants came to an empty continent, but now we know that?s not true. Brazil is now mostly inhabited by descendants of European settlers and African slaves who arrived only 500 years ago and wiped out most of the native Indians.

Stone tools and charcoal found at Serra Da Capivara, in remote northeast Brazil, show evidence of an even earlier human culture 50,000 years ago. Cave paintings show images of giant armadillos, which died out before the last ice age, meaning the artists who drew them lived before the indigenous people who were massacred by the Europeans.

Indian people in the Americas have mongoloid facial features that reveal their Asian ancestry. However, the 9,000 to 12,000 year-old skulls that have been found in Brazil look very different. Walter Neves, of the University of Sao Paolo, has measured these skulls, including the oldest, a young woman he calls Lucia. He says, “The measurements show that Lucia was anything but mongoloid.?

Forensic artist Richard Neave, of the University of Manchester in the U.K., reconstructed a face from Lucia?s skull. This type of facial reconstruction is sometimes done by forensics experts who are trying to identify a murder victim. After it was finished, Neaves said, “It has all the features of a negroid face.”

The facial features closely match the aborigines, who are the native people of Australia and Melanesia. They date back to about 60,000 years, and were descended from the first humans, who left Africa about 100,000 years ago.

No one knows exactly where the aborigines came from in the first place or how they were able to travel so far by sea so long ago. Their legends say nothing about how they arrived in Australia. To travel on, from Australia to Brazil, they would have had to navigate almost 8,500 miles.

Australian cave paintings give researchers a clue about how they did it. In Kimberley, a region at the northern tip of Western Australia, Grahame Walsh, an expert on Australian rock art, found the oldest painting of a boat anywhere in the world. It?s at least 17,000 years old, but it could be 50,000 years old.

One special feature is the high prow of the boat, which would have been needed for boats used in the rough waves of the open ocean. Some archeologists think this wasn?t an intentional emigration. Three years ago, a group of African fishermen were caught in a storm and washed up on the shores of South America a few weeks later. The arrival of aborigines in Australia, and later in Brazil, could have been due to a similar accident.

The shape of the skulls changes between 9,000 and 7,000 years ago from being exclusively negroid to exclusively mongoloid. Combined with rock art images of increasing violence, archeologists suspect that mongoloid people from the north wiped out the original aborigines.

The only evidence of any survivors comes from Terra del Fuego, the islands at the southern tip of South America. The pre-European Fuegeans who live there led stone age-style lives until this century. Their skulls show hybrid features which could have resulted from intermarrying between mongoloid and negroid peoples. Their ancient rituals and traditions also resemble ancient Brazilian rock art images.

It?s always seemed strange that North America was so empty when the Europeans first arrived, meaning that the Indians hadn?t been here long enough to colonize the entire continent. However, there is evidence of prehistoric cultures here, if you know where to look. What happened to these people? Perhaps they, like the aboriginal Brazilians, were wiped out by the Asian immigrants, who in turn were almost destroyed by the Europeans. This theory adds an extra level of humanity to the history of the Americas.

To see reconstructed images of the first Americans, click here.

To learn about ancient artifacts that hint at a more complex American history than we?ve learned about in school, read ?Atlantis in America? by Ivar Zapp and George Erikson, click here.

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