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Ancient girl child's DNA reveals an unknown population of Native Americans

12 January 2018

In Alaska, scientists have uncovered something they say is remarkable: the remains of two infants dating back more than 11,000 years.

A debate now exists as to precisely when humans first colonized the Americas and if those first routes were over land or water.

Now, as part of a new study published this week in the journal Nature, an global team of archaeologists and geneticists has reconstructed the entire genome of the older girl. The remains were discovered in 2013, but a full genetic analysis has not been possible until now. But his co-author Eske Willerslev, from the University of Copenhagen, believes humans traveled from Asia in a single wave of migration, then split apart shortly after they arrived.

During the last ice age, so much water was locked up in the ice caps that a land bridge reached from Asia to North America across what is now the Bering Strait.

Till now, no one knew that there was such group of Ancient Beringians and now it has given a clue about the existence of Ancient Beringian. They now call these people Ancient Beringians.

The two infants are the first hard evidence that they did indeed do that.

The lead researcher, Ben Potter, says, "It would be hard to overstate the importance of this newly revealed people to our understanding of how ancient populations came to inhabit the Americas".

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"The study provides the first direct genomic evidence that all Native American ancestry can be traced back to the same source population during the last Ice Age", Potter explained.

That group, the one that moved south, eventually spread far and wide: up into Canada, the East and throughout Central and South America.

This course of events enabled the specialists to build a photo of how and when the landmass may have been settled by a typical, establishing populace of genealogical Native Americans, that bit by bit partitioned into these distinctive sub-groupings.

The excavation site from Alaska.

For a while at least.

"This scenario is most consistent with the archaeological record, which to date lacks secure evidence of human occupation in Beringia and the Americas" dating to more than 20,000 years ago, the scientists wrote.

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A burial deep in a pit below the frozen surface helped to preserve the infant's remains - along with viable samples of the baby's DNA and partial DNA from the younger infant. Their discovery sheds light on how the first people migrated to the Americas.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: Scientists say it's a remarkable discovery.

The Native Americans who today live around the Upward Sun River site belong to the northern branch of the genetic family. Geneticists compared DNA from one of the infants to the genes of people from around the world.

But the study does narrow the timeframe for the great migration, and said it was unlikely to have happened in several waves. Scientists suspected that one group stayed put.

And the Beringians managed to do it without significantly changing their technology, centered on a unique type of stone tool called a microblade, he said. "This study shows that even a single ancient genome sequenced to a good coverage can potentially make major contributions to our understanding of ancient complex histories", he said.

POTTER: Bison, horses, mammoth - big grazers were very common. He speculated that the northern and southern branches split afterward, about 15,700 years ago as the ancestors of Native Americans expanded out of Alaska, settling on land exposed by retreating glaciers. The latter group then could have moved south of the ice sheets at a later date.

"We cannot prove that those claims are not true, but what we are saying, is that if they are correct, they could not possibly have been the direct ancestors to contemporary Native Americans".

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The information, which originated from archeological finds in Alaska, likewise indicates the presence of a formerly obscure Native American populace, whom scholastics have named "Antiquated Beringians". How their final end came is still unknown.

Ancient girl child's DNA reveals an unknown population of Native Americans