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Biotech Science

Greenlander's DNA Sequenced, After 5,000 Years 80

Posted by timothy
from the finally-died-of-birthday-cake-poisoning dept.
TinFinger writes "The genome of a 5,000-year-old man from Greenland has been sequenced from scalp hair remains. He belonged to the now-extinct Saqqaq, who are genetically more closely related to east Asians than to contemporary Native North Americans. Although both contemporary Inuit and the extinct Saqqaq migrated from Siberia across the Bering Straits, the Saqqaq migration was a much later one (5,000-10,000 years ago, compared with 20,000 for the Inuit). All that is left of the Saqqaq today are a few archaeological sites in Greenland. Genetic analysis revealed that 'Inuk' was stocky, possibly with a receding hairline, had a cold-adapted metabolism, A+ blood type, and possibly a rather bad haircut. The hair sample from which the DNA was sequenced was excavated in 1986 and was archived at the National Museum of Denmark. It was only recently rediscovered by a research team who spent a fruitless three months at Saqqaq sites looking for hair samples for genome analysis."
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Greenlander's DNA Sequenced, After 5,000 Years

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  • by thms (1339227) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @05:21PM (#31137160)

    Clone the guy and see if he is capable of learning and living in this more advanced human environment.

    5,000 years are not much of a difference. As it says in the article, the Innuit diverge from the "Eurasia" Genepool by more than 10,000 years, and the entire population of the Americas does as well. Though it would still be interesting if both populations had homologous adaptations to cold weather or already had them in Siberia.

    if he can then there will be a lot to say about god and darwin.

    No. Again, it is survival of the fittest, for whatever fitness function the environment, inter and intraspecies competition sets up for you.

    What is being worked on is cloning a Neanderthal human, which went extinct about 50,000 years ago - some think we were the cause (well, "we" being what later became part of the European population). And some think homo neanderthalensis might have been smarter than homo sapiens, but again, fitness doesn't necessarily take that into account.

  • Impressive... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by binaryseraph (955557) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @05:47PM (#31137416)
    Really quite impressive how far reading the the mutations have come along in the DNA world. National Geographic has a really awesome ancestor research project that will trace your own gene mutations back- in some cases to when we all came out of Africa. While it's not much good for the more recent history (last 1000 years) it's fascinating to think back to 5 or 10k. I hear they are going to work on samples from some mummies they found in South America and hopefully shed light on the puzzle of where they originated.
  • by notjustchalk (1743368) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @05:54PM (#31137482)

    Genetic analysis revealed that 'Inuk' was stocky, possibly with a receding hairline, had a cold-adapted metabolism, A+ blood type, and possibly a rather bad haircut.

    I love how detailed genetic analyses are getting! :)

  • hold it there. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elnyka (803306) on Monday February 15, 2010 @08:23AM (#31142922) Homepage

    Although both contemporary Inuit and the extinct Saqqaq migrated from Siberia across the Bering Straits, the Saqqaq migration was a much later one (5,000-10,000 years ago, compared with 20,000 for the Inuit).

    Where did you get these age ranges? 20,000 years for the Inuit? Correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK, and except for tentative sites in Alaska, existing migratory evidence that we have today for the peopling of the Americas does not go back that far back in time. We believe that the people in Beringia were isolated between 10K and 20K, but we do not know precisely when they made the trek to the Americas.

    Now, the linguistic and genetic evidence DO suggest that the peopling of the Americas started that far back in time as a whole. There are findings in Alaska, the establishment of the linguistic connection between the Na-Dene languages (.ie. Apache, Navajo) and the Yenisean languages, or sites like Monte Verde in Chile (which challenges the "Clovis First" theory).

    But where is the combined evidence (archeological and genetic) that says the Inuit (or any extant New World group for that matter) came into the Americas as far back as 20,000?

    Now, let's consider what the article says:

    His ancestors split apart from Chukchis some 5,500 years ago, according to genetic calculations,

    The Saqqaq split from the Chukchis about 5,500 years ago. That date alone does not provide any window by which to speculate when the Saqqaq entered into the Americas. They could have split off when they entered, say, a thousand years before. Or they could have split off after their common ancestor entered the Americas with the ancestors of the Chukchis moving back into Siberia. Purely speculative I know, but the models of migration does not preclude back-and-forth migration over the ice sheets/along the Beringian corridor (which if you think about it, it's very sensible and pausible.) Moreover, the ancestors of the Inuit and Saqqaq could have split off back in Siberia and way before their independent entrances into the Americas. I just don't see how TimFinger came up with this 10K-20K year range.

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