July 10, 2014 | Vol. 118 -- No. 12

An ancient American woman buried by the sea

I need to get a cap on my front tooth redone — it has a significant chip in it. Luckily I live at a time in which dentists are in every city and town, plying their trade in ways that can help us each day.

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A young woman who scientists are calling Naia was not so lucky. She lived about 12,000 to 13,000 years ago in what’s now the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. A recent article in New Scientist reports that Naia’s teeth have a number of large cavities in them. Her mouth likely hurt a lot when she was alive.

The name Naia comes from a derivative of the Greek for “water nymph.” Naia’s...

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