History | October 28, 2017 5:00 am

Ancient Skull May Belong to Earliest Known Tsunami Victim

It was unearthed in Papua New Guinea.

A partial skull unearthed in New Guinea in 1929 is now believed to belong to the oldest-known human tsunami victim, reports The New York Post

The skull was originally thought to belong to an extinct human species, but researchers performed new examinations of the sediments where the 6,000-year-old skull was found and found compositions very similar to the remnants of a deadly 1998 tsunami that hit the same area.

The New York Post reports that the skull was found near the town of Aitape, about seven miles inland from Papua New Guinea’s northern coast. It is one of the earliest human remains from the island. It was originally though to be about 140,000 years old, from the Homo erectus species, but later scientific data revealed it was actually 6,000 years old.

Tsunami expert James Goff of the University of New South Wales in Australia said that the skull “speaks volumes about the long-term exposure of human populations along the world’s coastlines,” according to The New York Post. He also thinks that these past events had effects on human migration, settlement, and culture.

The scientists found clear signs of tsunami activity when the examined geological deposits at the riverbed site where the skull was originally found. There were no other bones found with the skull.

Tsunamis are particularly dangerous natural disasters, reports The New York Post. A tsunami is when giant waves are created by underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. In 1998, a tsunami in Papua New Guinea killed more than 2,000 people, and completely wiped out villages and crops. Many survivors had to relocate. The New York Post writes that the tsunami that happened 6,000 years ago is thought to have been similar.