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Research teams duel over Native American origins

Views differ on whether DNA analyses support one or two ancestral populations

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1:00pm, July 21, 2015
Native Americans' origins

ONE WAVE  A single group of people migrated from Siberia and Northeast Asia into the Americas via a land bridge about 23,000 years ago, giving rise to all Native Americans, one group of researchers says. Another group of researchers has a slightly different view.

A previously hidden genetic link between native peoples in Australia and the Amazon has inspired two different teams of researchers to reach competing conclusions about the origins of Native Americans.

One team analyzing modern genetic data finds evidence that at least two ancestral populations gave rise to Native Americans. Another team, analyzing DNA from present-day and ancient Americans, reports that Native Americans came from a single ancestral population.

Both teams agree that Native American roots stem from Asia. Both also say the other group has strong data and has analyzed it superbly. They just don’t see eye-to-eye on the interpretation of the information.

One team, reporting July 21 in Nature, found that about 1 to 2 percent of DNA in some native peoples in South America is shared with native Australians and Melanesians.

“It’s a small but distinct

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