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Turns Out Kennewick Man Not From Kennewick

MATTAWA, Wash. – Kennewick Man spent most of his life on the coast, not in the region on the Columbia River where he was found. So says the federal scientist who fought for nearly 10 years to study the 9,500 year old bones. The scientist released some of his findings at a conference this week with Northwest tribes

Final Kennewick Man facial reconstruction. Photo by Brittney Tatchell
Final Kennewick Man facial reconstruction. Photo by Brittney Tatchell

Kennewick Man’s bones give an indication of what he ate, and how he lived. The research shows he wasn’t fond of oysters or clams but instead his menu included big sea creatures like seals.

Doug Owsley is the head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and led the study of the ancient remains. Owsley says there isn’t even evidence that Kennewick Man was in southeast Washington for very long.

“Sites from this time period along the Columbia River are certainly going to have lots of fish in their diet, lots of salmon in their diet," Owsley says. "But also elk and deer -- and all of those things are not represented in this man’s diet.”

Kennewick Man, or as Northwest tribes call him the Ancient One, was found in the shallows of the Columbia River more than 16 years ago. The discovery led to a decade-year-long legal battle between tribes who wanted to rebury the remains, and scientists who wanted to study the bones.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.