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Ancient Siberian bones clarify Native American origins

Some New World ancestors came from western Eurasia, not East Asia

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1:30pm, November 20, 2013

SIBERIAN AMERICAN  DNA of a child buried 24,000 years ago near Lake Baikal (shown) in south-central Siberia reveals that an Ice Age population from this region contributed to the genetic makeup of modern Native Americans. The DNA came from a slice of the child’s upper arm bone (inset).

An Ice Age skeleton has revealed a genetic link between western Eurasians and Native Americans.

Researchers extracted DNA from a 24,000-year-old arm bone of a young boy found in Mal’ta, near central Siberia’s Lake Baikal. The child may be the oldest modern human to have his genetic portrait painted, and it is entirely different from the picture researchers expected to see.

Part of the boy’s genetic makeup, known as mitochondrial DNA, bears a stamp similar to that of Ice Age and later pre-agriculture European hunter-gatherers. And the boy’s Y chromosome looks more like those of today’s western Eurasians and Native Americans than like East Asians’, Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the Natural History Museum of Denmark and colleagues report November 20 in Nature.

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