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Keywords:

  • Skeleton;
  • Indian;
  • Kansas;
  • Carbon-14 dating

Abstract

One of the major fossil man finds from the Plains Area of the United States and one of the few from Kansas are the “Lansing Man” skeletons. The discovery was in February 1902 on the west bank of the Missouri River, south of Leavenworth near the town of Lansing, Kansas. Much was written about this skeleton following its discovery and Aleš Hrdlička's only trip to Kansas in October 1902 was to observe the skeletons and the site of its discovery. Numerous articles were written suggesting that “Lansing Man” was many thousands of years old. Geologists could not agree on an age of the skeletons, an adult male and a six to seven year old child, because they were discovered in deposits of slumped loess, confusing the geological picture.

Hrdlička states that the skeletons were physically identical to Indians of that region at the period of historical contact. William Holmes had the skull sent to the U. S. National Museum and the remaining bones were placed in the Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas. While on the staff of the University of Kansas, I had Carbon-14 tests conducted on bones from the lower limbs by three separate laboratories. These dates range from 2660 to 5020 B.C. with an average date of four samples (1 each from Geochron Laboratories and the University of Michigan and two from the Smithsonian Institution) of 3579 B.C. This suggests that the “Lansing Man” skeletons are Early Middle Archaic and not Paleoindian. They do, however, represent the oldest known human skeletons from Kansas.