Fairbanks researchers say they've uncovered the oldest cremated human remains ever discovered in northern North America at a site near the Tanana River in central Alaska.
The 3-year-old is only the second Ice Age child discovered on the continent, according to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Archaeologists discovered the remains in a fire pit in an abandoned living area from 13,200 years ago and dated the child's death to about 11,500 years ago, according to research by UAF's Ben Potter and his team in today's edition of the journal Science.
In one of many interviews Thursday, Potter remembered the find early in the morning of last June 5.
"It was our last day at the site," Potter said by phone from Fairbanks. "That was it for the excavation."
But in a small, 1-meter-square test plot away from the main excavation area, the team started to uncover skeletal fragments and teeth.
"I knew the moment I held the first human remains, identified the tooth, OK, clearly, we knew the age right away, so actually I was thinking of this day that moment, because I knew it was big," Potter said.
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