Year in review: Native Americans are Kennewick kin | Science News

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Year in review: Native Americans are Kennewick kin

DNA analysis shows close ties to present-day groups

6:30am, December 15, 2015
Kennewick Man skull

NATIVE RELATIVE  This year, scientists analyzed the genetics of Kennewick Man, nearly two decades after the skeleton's discovery. The skull is similar to that of Polynesians, but DNA suggests a link to Native Americans.

Kennewick Man, whose 8,500-year-old skeleton sparked a controversy when it was found in Washington state, was a relative of present-day Native Americans, researchers reported this year. Since the discovery of the skeleton in 1996, Native American tribes have claimed Kennewick Man as their own and requested the bones be handed over for a ceremonial burial. Some scientists argued, though, based on the shape of his skull, that he was more closely related to native Polynesians or a native Japanese group called the Ainu.

Morten Rasmussen of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues wrested DNA from Kennewick Man’s skeleton and analyzed it for the first time. They found that Kennewick Man is more closely related to Native Americans in the northern United States than to any other living population (

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