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Siberian Remains Cast New Light on Native American Origins – Study

© RIA Novosti . Larisa SayenkoSiberian Remains Cast New Light on Native American Origins – Study
Siberian Remains Cast New Light on Native American Origins – Study - Sputnik International
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Scientists who mapped the genome of a boy who died in Siberia 24,000 years ago have argued that the results indicate that around 30 percent of Native American ancestry may come from an ancient tribe related to Europeans, according to a paper published in the scientific journal Nature.

WASHINGTON, November 21 (RIA Novosti) – Scientists who mapped the genome of a boy who died in Siberia 24,000 years ago have argued that the results indicate that around 30 percent of Native American ancestry may come from an ancient tribe related to Europeans, according to a paper published in the scientific journal Nature.

The findings could overturn the long-held view that the original Native American population was exclusively descended from Siberian tribes related to today’s East Asians, who crossed from Siberia into Alaska during the last Ice Age.

The remains of the four-year-old boy were found by Soviet archaeologists in the 1920s near the village of Malta along the Belaya River and were stored in St. Petersburg for decades until recently examined by a team led by Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen.

Willerslev extracted DNA from a bone sample and analyzed it, looking for ancestry in the East Asian peoples from whom scientists believe today’s Native Americans are descended.

However, Willerslev told the BBC on Wednesday that "when we sequenced this genome, something strange appeared … Parts of the genome you find today in western Eurasians; other parts of the genome you find today in Native Americans – and are unique today to Native Americans."

Meanwhile the boy showed “no clear affinities” with East Asian populations. The boy was also buried with cultural items normally found to the west of the area, reaching into Europe, Willerslev told the BBC.

Willerslev said he now thinks today’s Native Americans are descended from a mixture of two populations, “an East Asian group and these Malta west Eurasian populations."

In the paper published in Nature, Willerslev and his team estimate that Native Americans may owe “14 to 38 percent” of their ancestry to this ancient “European” population.

It may take some time before other scientists are convinced, however.

When Willerslev presented his findings at a conference in Santa Fe last month, he was met with “a lot of surprise and some skepticism,” Dennis H. O’Rourke, an anthropologist at the University of Utah, told The New York Times on Wednesday.

 

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