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The woman buried over 10,000 years ago near modern-day Leander

Thousands of years before the area around RM 1431 and U.S. 183 in the Leander-Cedar Park area became communities, the region was home to indigenous tribes.

AUSTIN, Texas — On a wet and cold day in December 1982, archeologists are called out to investigate buried human bones found deep in the ground where construction crews with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) were building Ranch to Market Road 1431.

Soon, it became clear that what the archeologists uncovered was an extraordinary discovery: The oldest intact human skeleton ever recovered in the U.S., carbon dated to between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago.

The carefully recovered and removed the skeleton belonged to a woman who was about 5 feet, 3 inches tall and probably around 30 years old. She had been carefully and respectfully buried with some tools and a shark tooth.

Former KVUE anchor Judy Maggio had recently begun her news career in early 1983 and still remembers reporting from the scene 41 years ago.

“This young woman was so lovingly buried,” Maggio recalled. “It was exciting news that scientists had found a burial site dating back to 9,000 B.C. here in Central Texas.”

The woman who had been buried was given the name "Leanne" because she had been found near the present day city of Leander. Some nicknamed her the "Leanderthal Lady," although she had no connection to the much earlier epoch of the Neanderthal people.

“To me, finding her burial site was a poignant reminder that indigenous people lived here long before any Texans did,” Maggio said. “I think we should always remember them with a lot of reverence and respect.”

Today, a TxDOT roadside marker off U.S. 183 tells some of Leanne’s story. But like all discoveries from long ago, there's much more about who she was and the people with whom she lived that is yet to be told.

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