An ancient human skull discovered in Papua New Guinea is likely to have belonged to the world’s oldest-known tsunami victim, according to scientists.
The skull is thought to be about 6,000 years old.
In 1929, when the skull was discovered near the town of Aitape and originally attributed to the Homo erectus species, an ancestor of modern humans.
However, scientists now say the area was once a coastal lagoon that was hit by a tsunami about 6,000 years ago.
Experts, who studying the case, believed that the skull belonged to a person who died in the tsunami.
Furthermore, the discovery came after the international team compared sediments from the area with soil from a nearby region hit by a devastating tsunami in 1998.
“While the bones had been well studied, little attention had previously been paid to the sediments where they were unearthed,” said first author Prof James Goff, from the University of New South Wales.
Professor Goff said that the “geographical similarities” in the sediments showed that humans had experienced tsunamis in the area for thousands of years.
“We conclude that this person who died there so long ago is probably the oldest-known tsunami victim in the world,” Goff added.
The discovery of the ancient skull was made near the town of Aitape, in Papua New Guinea.
Scientists said it was also possible that the person had died and been buried just before the tsunami happened.
The research involved studying the grain size and composition of the sediments. Among them were microscopic organisms from the ocean, similar to ones found after the 1998 tsunami which killed more than 2,000 people.
In order to determine the time element of the skull, the team also performed radiocarbon dating, a method used to accurately determine the age of artifacts.
Meanwhile, the full findings were published in the journal PLOS One, raise questions about whether other archaeological discoveries in coastal areas should be re-evaluated.