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New estimates for the arrival of the earliest Native Americans

 

Scientists have analyzed the mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal DNA from a 10,300-year-old human remains found in On Your Knees Cave on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. These remains, the oldest human remains known from Alaska or Canada are from a young man in his early twenties.

DNA sequencing showed that the individual’s mitochondrial DNA belongs to an ancient subhaplogroup of haplogroup D that was brought to the Americas rather than mutating from haplogroup D once it arrived in the Americas. Interestingly, a sample of almost 3,500 Native Americans revealed that only 1.5% belonged to the same subhaplogroup of D (characterized by 16223T, 16342C, and 16241G). Those that did were found mostly along the Pacific coast of North and South America.

Characterization of additional founder haplogroups would disturb past attempts at calculating the dates of founding because these calculations were based upon mutation rates of a limited number of haplogroups. For instance, in this case subhaplogroup D did not need the extra time to mutate from haplogroup D – it merely arrived with haplogroup D. This could significantly shorten the estimated arrival time of founder haplogroups.

The abstract and PDF at American Journal of Physical Anthropology is available here.

The National Geographic summary is available here.

Other articles by Brian Kemp are located at Pubmed.

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

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