Nov 21, 2013

24,000 Year Old Remains Shed New Light On Origins Of Native Americans

Ute Family, Courtesy of Library of Congress
November is Native American Heritage Month.  Therefore, it seems fitting to blog about an important scientific discovery that may turn Native American archaeology on its head.

Scientists and researchers from around the world, including the US, Russia, Denmark and Sweden, have conducted DNA testing on the skeletal remains of a young boy believed to have died nearly 24,000 years ago in Siberia.  To date, these are the oldest remains on which DNA testing has been conducted.
These remains are the oldest on which DNA has been conducted

As a result of the testing, researchers can demonstrate that nearly 30% of all Native Americans are descendants of this boy's gene pool.  The significance of this finding is two-fold.  At first glance, this evidence might suggest that most Native Americans came to the Americas from Eastern Asia at a time when a land bridge afforded crossing the Bering Strait

However, according to researchers, the boy's DNA showed close links to Western Europeans, including as far west as Germany.  In other words, the boy's DNA shows a definite link between Native Americans and Western Europe, not just Asia or Eastern Eurasia.

Second, and even more significant, the findings cast doubt on when the migration to the Americas may have occurred.  According to mainstream archaeologists, colonization of Alaska by migrating Native American populations occurred approximately 14,500 years ago.  Though not conclusive, because the skeletal remains tested are nearly 10,000 years older still - and have such a close genetic connection to a large percentage of Native Americans - researchers believe that the migration and colonization of Alaska and the Americas may have happened much earlier than previously thought.

You can read more about this fascinating research at ScienceDaily.  Don't forget to check out the link about Native American Heritage Month at the top of the article.  It links to a wonderful website with many resources, stories, information and images that I am sure you will enjoy.
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