Unlocking Kennewick Man's Secrets

Unlocking Kennewick Man's Secrets
SEATTLE - This is the first week for scientists from around the country to study the 9,000-year-old remains of "Kennewick Man," the oldest complete skeleton ever discovered in North America.

The research comes after several years of legal battles with several northwest tribes that wanted the skeletal remains to be turned over to them for re-burial. A judged ruled against the tribes, and in favor of scientists to begin studying the bones.

"It's like a rare book," explained Hugh Barryman, a researchers on the project. "We want to make sure we look at as many pages in that book that we can look at."

Scientists believe the skeletal remains of Kennewick Man could be anywhere from 5700-9,000-years-old.

"We're finding new questions that weren't asked, possibly," said Wayne Smith, a researcher from Texas A&M University

The scientists are using a 3-D replica of the skull and pelvis, to determine more about the bones.

"You can study him digitally, you can do any type of analysis that you want," explained Brian Wilcox, who helped create the plastic models. "In the end, 80 percent of what you want to do in a scientific perspective, you can do with this type of technology without ever having to touch or damage the specimen."

Scientists plan to use the replicas to determine whether Kennewick Man was the victim of a drowning, or if he was buried after his death. They're also studying what they believe were injuries to the man's ribs, arm, and skull.

Project leaders say they're planning to hold several other 10-day sessions for researchers to study the bones, and answer those questions.