Working more than 90 years ago in 1923, the team led by field assistant G.H.H. Tate, were exploring the Chalan ravine close to Punin, in Chimborazo near Riobamba, Ecuador, when they uncovered the skulls. According to one of the scientists, E. H. Anthony, the skulls were damp and fragile, but once removed from the bank about three feet from its top, the skull dried and hardened. According to the scientists, it was a startling discovery due to its archaic appearance perhaps due to its "exceptionally pronounced supra orbital robusticity,” that is, its prominent brow (Joseph F. Powell, The First Americans: Race, Evolution and the Origin of Native Americans, Cambridge University Press,2005).
The skull was ovoid (egg-shaped) and had a wide and short face with big teeth, but lacked its lower jaw. In addition, it was surrounded by bones of horses, camelids and mastodon situated within 50 to 100 feet from the skull—it was assumed the skull was very old since science claims such bones of these mammals were extinct from the Pleistocene (Quaternary period—2.5 million to 11,700 years ago).
The first skull belonged to a woman who was about 45 to 50 years old, and was found embedded in a stratum of volcanic ash, with megafaunal (very large animal) fossils. However, in the 1980s, the skull was re-evaluated by Don Brothwell and Richard Burleigh, and re-dated to 4,750 +/- 250 B.C. (Don Brothwell, Richard Burleigh, "Human Cranium from Punin, Ecuador, With Particular Reference To Morphology and Dating," Journal of Archaeological Science, 7 1, 1980, pp97-99).
Thus, the human skull turned out to be not "ancient,” but quite "recent,” i.e., and while no tools or ceramic remains were found near the crania, it was determined to be "contemporary with the Late Paleoindian stage.
It is interesting that though current animal bones were found next to the human remains, scientists determined that “the grave was probably dug into older strata (12-20,000 years old, with megafaunal fossils), though the woman was from 4.750 years ago.” This determination, of course, is because the animals were extinct!
Area where the skull and bones were found
Like all anthropology and archaeology, findings are subject to personal explanation, no matter what is found—there must be a way to explain the findings without violating the precepts of the geologic column and the "revered" dating sequence of the geologic epochs.
On the other hand, one of the scientists, E. H. Anthony, thought differently about the dating of the findings. He believed that the skull's position in the soil was not the usual one for a burial as was the lack of other bones; he believed it was contemporary with the fossils found in the ash beds (Sullivan, Louis R., and Hellman, Milo, The Punin calvarium, Anthropological papers of the AMNH ; v. 23, pt. 7, 1925).
The skull (shown above) definitely showed a “solid” bone behind the eyebrows, making it a contemporary skull, not an aboriginal of some partial human species as thought in the 1920s. On the other hand, even this discovery is not without its humorous side, for Arthur Keith (1886-1955) noted upon examination of the skull “its resemblance to the skulls of the native women of Australia [was striking] ...the points of resemblance are too numerous to permit us to suppose that the skull could be of a sort produced by an American Indian parentage. We cannot suppose that an Australian native woman had been spirited across the Pacific in some migratory movement and that afterwards her skull was buried in a fossiliferous bed in the high plateau of Ecuador...The discovery at Punin does compel us to look into the possibility of a Pleistocene invasion of Americas by an Australoid people."
Of course, no scientist is going to come out and suggest that ancients from South America peopled the Pacific when they cannot accept there were ancients in South America capable of such travel.
It is interesting, however, that ancients in South America could build fabulous stone edifices that startle the common builders of our day who wonder how those ancients moved hundred ton stones and fit them perfectly together so not even a knife blade can be inserted between them though no mortar was used.
But that is the dichotomy we face today. The evidence is before our eyes, but since it does not fit into the scientific paradigms that have been developed, it is not acceptable and must be denied while science looks for some other hair-brained explanation. In fact, without explanation, evidence, or anything to back up his statement, Harvard anthropologist Earnest Houghton stated "any competent craniologist would identify as Australian in type" and pointed out that ancient burials in America yielded more "Australoid-looking dolichocephals...than anything in the way of a skull that resembles a Mongoloid." Thus, the Americas were anciently peopled by Austronesians sailing against winds and currents who came from Australia, across the South Pacific from island to island, until they reached and peopled South America.
To support this theory, Austin Whittail, in his work Patagonian Monsters, wrote: “These ‘Australoids’ were indeed part of the first wave of modern humans (Homo sapiens) to leave Africa about 100,000 years ago. They used watercraft to navigate coastal waters and could have easily sailed along the shores of Asia, across the Bering Strait into America long before the appearance of the Mongoloid type in Siberia 20,000 years ago. When the Mongoloid Asians later moved across Beringia into America, they advanced on those original Americans replacing them. A few remnants of the first wave survived extermination by the newcomers isolated in the remote Patagonian hinterland.”
Isn’t it interesting, that these scientists always show an annihilation of a previous group by a new group, so that no evidence of the first group can be furnished. It is as though ancient man lived in a very small world, which allowed for their annihilation by invading groups—though we have no evidence of such annihilations of a people in such ways anywhere else in history. Even the Nephites left remnants behind, in their defections to the Lamanites who survived in very large numbers; nor did an invading force wipe out the Jaredites, for they did that to themselves.
This theory of annihilation was first proposed by French ethnologist Paul Rivet (1876-1958), but its validity rests on the disputed navigation skills of the Australoids. To overcome this, Portuguese anthropologist Mendes Correia (1888-1960) proposed a migration route via Tasmania, the Antarctic and Drake Passage, instead of trans-Pacific route, entering South America at Tierra del Fuego some 8,000 years B.C., before the Antarctic ice cap formed. But this conception is highly disputed and lacks archaeological proof.
Nearly fifty years later, on September 8, 1972, a farmer named Lucas Antonio Paredes came across a burial in Pailapata, about a quarter of a mile from the site where Tate found the "Punin" skull. He promptly notified a trader in fossils and Inca relics, Florencio Samaniego Santillán, who came over and, that same day, started digging at the site. They uncovered the bones of perhaps more than one human being which was inside a layer of volcanic ash. They also uncovered a dolichoid skull, similar to the one found by Tate, which was promptly named "Punin 2" and exhibited in 1979 at the Central Bank's Museum.
One of the bones (a femur) was dated at 1,240 B.C., and belongs to the Formative Period however there is no proof that the bone and skull belong to the same body. Once again, a primitive yet young skull.
One thing seems certain, though seems to be lost on the scientists involved and that is a people existed in Ecuador prior to the coming to the Land of Promise by the Nephites and is consistent with Jaredite occupation, and the location is consistent with the city of Moron where the Jaredites settled. But don’t expect anyone to jump to the suggestion about the Jaredites. And, too, it seems quite evident that horses, camels, and mastadons (elephants) were around during the time when these skulls belonged to living beings, i.e., during Jaredite times. But don’t expect anyone to follow-up on that one, either—it is not part of any scientists’ paradigm.