2 February 2012, 14:31

Immigrants to America from Siberia

Immigrants to America from Siberia
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American Indians migrated to the American continent from the Altai Region in Russia.  This is the sensational conclusion made by Russian and US scientists after a joint research. The experts carried out genetic tests of Altai people and proved that they were remote kinsmen of indigenous Americans.

American Indians migrated to the American continent from the Altai Region in Russia.  This is the sensational conclusion made by Russian and US scientists after a joint research. The experts carried out genetic tests of Altai people and proved that they were remote kinsmen of indigenous Americans.

Mankind has been interested in the history of colonization of the New World for a long time. The earliest research began in the late 19th century. It was established that people and animals migrated along the isthmus between Asia and America during the Glacier Period but it was not clear where those people came from and what the itineraries of their migration were. Those questions were answered much later due to the results of genetic research, expert of the Siberian Institute of Cytology and Genetics at the Russian Academy of Sciences Ludmila Osipova says.

“Geneticists who work at our Institute began studying the uncharted areas of Siberia long ago. By the 1990s we had made much headway and realized what treasures of information Altai contained. Comprehensive research had proved that such a region could keep traces of ancient migrations and be a depository of genetic information. We began studying the ethnic groups of the Altai Republic both independently and in collaboration with foreign scientists.”

In 2003, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics together with Professor Theodore Schurr from Pennsylvania University arranged an expedition which examined the residents of northern and southern areas of Altai. The genetic material which the expedition obtained was compared with DNA samples collected in Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and also from American Indians. Both the Altai people and the American Indians had unique mutations in their mitochondrial DNA which are usually inherited along the maternal line, and also in Y-chromosomes of the DNA which are inherited by sons from their fathers. The researchers even managed to establish that the inhabitants of the southern part of Altai were closer related to American Indians than the northerners. The US scientists recently published the sensational results in The American Journal of Human Genetics, but it would have been impossible to obtain those results without the Russian scientists’ assistance, Ludmila Osipova says.

“When we study genetics at the population level it is very important to build the foundation, so that there are a lot of samples taken from the most ethnically pure representatives of a certain ethnic group. We have got all this at our disposal because we collected this information in numerous expeditions. I personally headed over ten such expeditions. We thoroughly selected the samples according to their genealogy. We needed samples unrelated in kinship either along the maternal or paternal lines. The reason is that every investigation of the maternal line takes us to one progenitress, Eve, so to say, and the investigation of the Y-chromosome takes us to Adam. This is why we should not take brothers or uncle and nephew because this will mess up the accuracy of the results.”

The US experts calculated the time needed for the development of the discovered mutations and came to the conclusion that American Indians separated from their Altai kinsmen about 13,000-14,000 years ago. Search for ‘Indian roots’ is being carried out in Mongolia as well, but that search has not borne fruit so far. Siberia remains the only geographical spot which has yielded positive results.

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