This post was formerly entitled: “The Pericues: Proof of Homo erectus in Baja”—–
The Pericues also known as the Pericu, Cora, and Edues were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Cape Region which is the southernmost end of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Sine the late 18th century, sadly, they have been culturally and linguistically extinct.
Of special interest here is that these people had very distinctive hyperdolichocephic skulls. That is, they were known for their distinctive long headed skulls. Some researchers believe that the Pericu were either were trans-Pacific migrants or remnants of some of the oldest colonizers of the New World. Their burials feature remains painted with red ochre (Las Palmas burial complex) which sometimes were deposited in caves or under rock shelters. These people used the atlatl and darts along with the bow and arrow up through the 17th century. When the Spanish came to the Americas they enslaved the Pericu until they revolted in 1734. The revolt lasted for two years until the Spanish reasserted authority over them. Many of the Pericu died of diseases brought by the Spanish as well.
The Pericu used stone grinding basins, made lark’s head netting, coiled basketry, and were known for their sewn palm bark containers. But, of significance to me is their skull shape. The burials at the Las Palmas Complex show the Pericu were a people who were extremely long headed and this is a feature commonly associated with HOMO ERECTUS!!
Homo erectus skulls from Dmanisis, Georgian Republic
The area that the Pericu lived in is today known as San Jose del Cabo and the oldest remains found thus far date to 3 kyr but there is archaeological evidence for the existence of these people back to 11 kya. Archaeologist Harumi Fujita has led research in the area and she has suggested that the southern part of the peninsula was inhabited as early as 40 kya.
Genetic research and skull morphology studies carried out by Dr. Silvia Gonzalez supports the theory that a number of different early human groups arrived in the Americas by different (various) routes at varying times possibly as early as 25 kya. Her research adds support to the theory that the Pericues did NOT ORIGINATE IN NORTHERN ASIA, where mainstream researchers believe the ancestors of modern Native Americans came from. According to Dr Gonzalez’s genetic research the Pericues are closer to ancient populations of SOUTHERN ASIA, AUSTRALIA, AND THE SOUTH PACIFIC RIM! More PROOF some ancestors of the First Americans came from the Southern Hemisphere!!
In the first picture above comparing some skulls in the Americas to the Red Deer Cave People you will note one of the skulls is that of the Penon Woman. This skull is dated at 12.7-15 kya and is one of the oldest remains found in the Americas. In terms of skull morphology her skull is similar to the Pericues, meaning it is exceptionally elongated.
The Pericu and Guaycura people tongues were different from any other found among the aboriginal people of Mexico! Europeans described the Pericu as having been “stronger and taller” than the average Mexican indigenous people elsewhere. Note, the elongated skull, the strength, and the tall size are all typical of H. erectus!!! Further, the Pericu had a sophisticated maritime technology making use of wooden rafts and double-bladed paddles and examination so some of the skulls show that these people were also accomplished divers! Some, such as myself, believe H. erectus may have sailed the waters at one time.
The Pericu mostly ate seafood from the Gulf of California along with land animals such as deer and small game. They also ate wild plums and agave. They lived in CAVES or rock shelters without roofs as is also found with H. erectus. Thus used fire and it is believed so did H. erectus. Women covered the lower portions of their bodies while males walked about in the nude often times with their bodies completely painted. Both genders wore their hair long.
The Pericues apparently treated their wives as slaves which they shared with other males and their mortuary observances were somewhat elaborate. At the time of the arrival of the Spanish in the area in 1534 it is believed about 5000 Pericu existed. Most of the Pericu died due to large numbers being killed in their revolt against the Spanish and diseases such as smallpox, measles, and syphilis that arrived with the Spanish.
Above is a map where I have plotted some of the sites where H. erectus remains have been found or some of their possible hybrids. This map will change over time in future posts with new information.
Returning to the Pericu Woman remains her skull morphology is also similar to skulls found in Brazil at Lagoa Santa and skulls found in Patagonia in Argentina and Chile.
Where these people some remainder of the enigmatic POPULATION Y?
What is becoming ever increasingly clear is that there WERE PEOPLE IN THE AMERICAS BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF THE PALEOINDIANS from Siberia via the land bridge. At Monte Verde in South America remains have been dated to about the same time as Penon Woman (12,755 kyr).
IF the Pericue were H. erectus or hybrids from H. erectus and modern human interbreeding then that means H. erectus possibly existed up until around 13 kya. Is that possible? In the next post we will look at some of the evidence for just that…
Part 2: Homo erectus in the Americas