Reuters reported on Wednesday that an international team of researchers announced that they had discovered the world's oldest known tsunami victim. The distinction belongs to an ancient skull found in Papua New Guinea that was discovered many decades ago. Their research has been published in the peer-reviewed open access scientific journal “PLOS One.” It was published under the title “Reassessing the environmental context of the Aitape Skull - The oldest tsunami victim in the world?”

Information on the ancient skull

In 1929, a peculiar partial skull piece was unearthed near the town of Aitape, Papua New Guinea. It was found around seven miles (12 kilometers) inland from the island country's northern coast.

The piece of skull cranium was and still is one of the oldest human remains to ever be found in the country.

At first, scientists thought that the skull was from an extinct species of human called Homo erectus that died out around 140,000 years ago. However, years later scientific dating was able to show that this original guess was only a little off of the mark, as the skull was only 6,000 years old.

How researchers determined it was a tsunami victim

The international team of researchers undertook new examinations of the sediments in the original area where the skull was found all those years ago. It was then that they discovered these sediments barred all of the characteristic traits of a tsunami. They also found that the composition was eerily similar to the remains of the lethal 1998 tsunami that devastated the same area.

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This was done by examining the geological deposits at the river-bed site the skull was discovered. Researchers noticed microscopic organisms in the sediments that came from the ocean and were very much the same as those from the 1998 event.

James Goff, the first author on the research team's paper, said that “geographical similarities” found in the sediments showed that humans had been dealing with tsunamis in the region for thousands of years. This has all led researchers to believe that the1929 Aitape skull fragment is the world's oldest-known human tsunami victim.

This research shows that humans have been dealing with these mega waves for a long time. It could also possibly change how future researchers look how tsunamis could have affected human migration and the effects these events had on past coastal populations around the globe. It is also possible that other archeological discoveries in coastal areas could be given a second look to see if they were affected by tsunamis.