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Journal Article

On Roth’s “human fossil” from Baradero, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina: morphological and genetic analysis


Barquera Lozano,  Rodrigo José       
Department of Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Menéndez, L. P., Barbieri, C., López Cruz, I. G., Schmelzle, T., Breidenstein, A., Barquera Lozano, R. J., et al. (2023). On Roth’s “human fossil” from Baradero, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina: morphological and genetic analysis. Swiss Journal of Palaeontology, 142: 26. doi:10.1186/s13358-023-00293-3.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-F938-C
The “human fossil” from Baradero, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, is a collection of skeleton parts first recovered by the paleontologist Santiago Roth and further studied by the anthropologist Rudolf Martin. By the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century it was considered one of the oldest human skeletons from South America's southern cone. Here, we present the results of an interdisciplinary approach to study and contextualize the ancient individual remains. We discuss the context of the finding by first compiling the available evidence associated with the historical information and any previous scientific publications on this individual. Then, we conducted an osteobiographical assessment, by which we evaluated the sex, age, and overall preservation of the skeleton based on morphological features. To obtain a 3D virtual reconstruction of the skull, we performed high resolution CT-scans on selected skull fragments and the mandible. This was followed by the extraction of bone tissue and tooth samples for radiocarbon and genetic analyses, which brought only limited results due to poor preservation and possible contamination. We estimate that the individual from Baradero is a middle-aged adult male. We conclude that the revision of foundational collections with current methodological tools brings new insights and clarifies long held assumptions on the significance of samples that were recovered when archaeology was not yet professionalized.