Ancient Siberian genome reveals genetic origins of Native Americans

Published: 2013-11-20


In collaboration with an international team of scientists, SciLifeLab assiociated scientists reports a breakthrough in the quest for Native American origins in this week’s Nature (Advance Online Publication).

 

The genome sequence of a 24,000-year-old Siberian individual has provided a key piece of the puzzle by demonstrating genomic signatures that are basal to present-day western Eurasians and close to modern Native Americans. This surprising finding has great consequences for our understanding of how and from where ancestral Native Americans descended, and also of the genetic landscape of Eurasia 24,000 years ago.

“It is remarkable how much we can learn about human history from these Paleolithic Siberian remains”, says Dr. Mattias Jakobsson, Associated member of SciLifeLab and Assistant Professor at Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University. “We can access genetic information on lost peoples that help us understand the peopling of the Americas much beyond what would be possible based on genetic variation in modern-day populations“.

As such, results from this study contribute a major leap forward for resolving the peopling of the Americas.

  • First Americans descended from the meeting and admixture of at least two populations of which one is related to contemporary East Asians and the other to present-day western Eurasians.
  • These findings may explain the presence of mitochondrial lineage X in Native Americans.
  • The presence of a population related to western Eurasians so far into northeast Eurasia provides a more likely explanation for the presence of non-East Asian cranial characteristics in the First Americans, rather than the Solutrean hypothesis that proposes an Atlantic route from Iberia.
  • Genetic continuity in south-central Siberia before and after the LGM provides evidence for the presence of humans in the region throughout this cold phase, which is of consequence to population movements into Beringia and ultimately the Americas around 15,000 years ago.

Contact
Assistant Professor Mattias Jakobsson
E-mail: mattias.jakobsson@ebc.uu.se
Mobile: +46 767 698169
Phone: +46 184716449

News article published att Uppsala University (in Swedish)