Society

The (Danish) father of Brazilian paleontology

Peter Lund spent the majority of his life living in Brazil, helping lay the foundations for paleontology and archeology in the country. He also discovered the remains of the oldest hominid in Latin America

peter lund lagoa santa
Tourists at a cave in Lagoa Santa discovered by Peter Lund circa 1835. Photo: Bia Fanelli/Folhapress

When fire engulfed the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro in September 2018, one of the first laments was for the loss of Luzia’s skull, the only remaining trace of the oldest female skeleton to be discovered in the Americas. The artifact was first encountered in the 1970s, by Annette Laming Emperaire during a French-Brazilian archeological expedition at the Lapa Vermelha site in Minas Gerais state.

However, one month after the museum blaze and during the search for “survivors” among the debris, archeologists miraculously came across the skull, which had remained largely intact. But almost as valuable as Luzia’s cranial...

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