DNA analysis shows close ties to present-day groups
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution
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 (