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Earliest Americans Arrived In Waves, DNA Study Finds 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the where-are-you-from? dept.
NotSanguine writes "Nicholas Wade of the New York Times has written an article about a new DNA study that suggests the earliest Americans arrived in three waves, not one. 'North and South America were first populated by three waves of migrants from Siberia rather than just a single migration, say researchers who have studied the whole genomes of Native Americans in South America and Canada. Some scientists assert that the Americas were peopled in one large migration from Siberia that happened about 15,000 years ago, but the new genetic research shows that this central episode was followed by at least two smaller migrations from Siberia, one by people who became the ancestors of today's Eskimos and Aleutians and another by people speaking Na-Dene, whose descendants are confined to North America.' The study, published online (paywalled), investigated geographic, linguistic and genetic diversity in native American populations."
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Earliest Americans Arrived In Waves, DNA Study Finds

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  • ahm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jythie (914043) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:19PM (#40623111)
    Kinda old news. I thought the 'single wave' theory had been abandoned decades ago, though some tribes have been lobbying to rewrite history since their mythology mandates they were the 'first' ones there, so waves conflict with doctrine.
    • Yeah. Very old news.

      I guess Nicholas Wade was part of the last wave.

      • Re:ahm... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by flyneye (84093) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @08:06AM (#40626701) Homepage

        Then don't forget the "mini-waves" of out-of-towners that the local babes found appealing enough to breed with including: Celts, Vikings, Africans, Minoans, Romans (galley wreck off Florida was tell-tale), Chinese( Anchor stones with carvings along Pacific Coast) and any others that made it here long before Columbus. Yup, Ethnic diversity indicates there is no such thing as just an "American Indian". We all donated some DNA.

        • by g1zmo (315166)

          Romans (galley wreck off Florida was tell-tale)

          Do you have a source for this? My Google search only turned up a story about a pretty questionable claim of a "Roman" shipwreck near Brazil [atrium-media.com] that is more likely just a 15th-century Spanish ship.

          • by flyneye (84093)

            I think it may have been a Mel Fisher find. We were diving wrecks with a robo-sub and a camera around various Atlantic Islands ourselves. Would've been the late 80s so my memory is foggy.( if you can remember the 80s, you weren't there)
            Interesting link you gave though.I worked with a Dr. Walter who had a working theory about Egyptians making it to S. America. in pitched reed boats. I guess some friend of his tried it a couple times and got fairly close but had to be rescued not too far from S.Am. both times

        • by Anonymous Coward

          There is absolutely no credible evidence for any groups you name making it to the Americas besides the Vikings, and as far as I am aware, there has been no genetic analysis showing nordic genetic heritage in Native American populations either.

          • by flyneye (84093)

            You should check that again with Harvards Archaeology dept. whom Dr. Walter and I worked with during inspection of the Celtic Ogam writings on Oklahoma riverbank walls. Harvard has a wonderful Native American Archaeology dept. Oddly some writings were recent , but correct, Some weren't recent, at all.
            It doesn't take a hard look at both cultures to notice too many similarities, concepts,and customs to be coincidental. Indians aren't crazy about the idea, Indians are central to the funding of research, so dig

      • by jc42 (318812)

        Yeah. Very old news.

        Yup. But note that the earlier hypotheses were based on different kinds of evidence than this. So this is what in scientific circles is called "independent confirmation". For things as conjectural as how many "waves" of immigration to the Americas have happened, the scientific process typically refuses to consider an idea valid until several different kinds of evidence have been examined, and all of them are consistent with the hypothesis.

        In particular, this one seems to show a strong connection betwe

    • Re:ahm... (Score:5, Informative)

      by BeanThere (28381) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:27PM (#40623173)

      The study review, acceptance and publication dates are:
              01 September 2011
              25 May 2012
              11 July 2012
      so I don't see how you can say this "old news"?

      • by Omineca (2623253)
        I would say that the study may add new evidence in support of long existing theory. The three wave theory, precisely in the format described in the write up here on slashdot, has been in first year university history textbooks for at least a decade, if not longer.
        • by dewatf (209360)
          Yes but you can always quote "some" scientists old theory of 1 wave from decades ago and claim your research is new to get more media attention and funding.
          • Re:ahm... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @01:19AM (#40624871) Homepage Journal

            Yes but you can always quote "some" scientists old theory of 1 wave from decades ago and claim your research is new to get more media attention and funding.

            No you can't. Every scientific paper and grant application, in every subject, includes a literature review section in which you cover the state of current relevant research, and to get the publication or the grant you have to demonstrate how your findings are different from what's currently known.

            What you can do, if you're a layman sniping at science from a distance, is mention some garbled memory of something you read once that's kinda sorta related to the subject at hand, and dismiss current research as "old news." Bonus points if you throw in something about how scientists are only in it for the money, fame, and groupies.

            • by dissy (172727)

              Bonus points if you throw in something about how scientists are only in it for the money, fame, and groupies.

              Oblg.:

              <Leela> After 14 years of graduate school, Professor Farnsworth settled into the glamorous life of a scientist: Fast cars, trendy nightspots, beautiful women - the Professor designed them all working out of his tiny, one-room apartment.

        • this whole situation is like rain on my wedding day.

      • If you read the nytimes article you see that the genetic evidence appears to confirm the linguistic work done by Joseph Greenberg in 1987. So that is probably what the grandparent is thinking of as the "old news". However, the theories of Joseph Greenberg aren't widely accepted.

        • If you read the nytimes article you see that the genetic evidence appears to confirm the linguistic work done by Joseph Greenberg in 1987. So that is probably what the grandparent is thinking of as the "old news". However, the theories of Joseph Greenberg aren't widely accepted.

          All it vindicates about Greenberg is his specific proposal of three waves of immigration. Most historical linguists utterly reject his "mass comparison" method for identifying languages. I don't think this work is going to change that, no matter how enthusiastic Ruiz is.

          • by Shavano (2541114)
            On the contrary. It issue additional evidence that his linguistic theory may have some truth to it.
      • http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090108/full/news.2009.7.html

      • by T.E.D. (34228)

        Perhaps because I read an article propounding this same three-wave theory (based mostly on linguistic studies) in Scientific American back in about 1993?

        But then I'm not a Science Reporter, so what do I know about news?

      • by Disfnord (1077111)

        Because people didn't read the summary, let alone the article.

    • and yet we still have to call them "native" americans lol. At this point, some sort of small mammal would be the only thing I call a native american lol.
  • Windover Bog People (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Not as old, about 9000 years.. but it seems Caucasian people from Europe made their way to North America long, long before even the Vikings are known to have done so. Genetic material from the burials was sequenced by scientists back in the 1990s. It isn't (as far as I know) thought that any ancestors from this group of people survive today. They died out somewhere along the way.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/americas-bog-people.html
    www.thescienceforum.com/history/27178-pre-columbian-american-europ

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      Or they were absorbed by interbreeding with a larger population of the dominant genetic stock.
  • if they migrated here from Siberia, they're not native Americans, are they?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The article itself is sort of interesting, not really surprising, but it's cool to have more multi-wave evidence. What did catch me off guard was the use of "Eskimos". I grew up learning that it's an offensive term and shouldn't be used. Saying eskimo is kind of like saying negro. It's old fashioned and inappropriate for a public conversation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's a U.S. paper. While Eskimo is offensive in Canada and Greenland it isn't in the U.S. including Alaska.
      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        Mainly because US'ians can't be bothered to change any mistakes they've ever made. Almost half a millennia after realizing they weren't in India and they still call the natives Indians!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What term do you propose? Not all Eskimos outside Canada are Inuit, and this very item underlines the need for a term grouping Inuit and Yupik peoples, on genetic and linguistic grounds.

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grayhand (2610049) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:51PM (#40623385)
    The only thing I question is they are still sticking by the Clovis dogma and insisting that the two other waves were later. Why this has always been an issue is the oldest bones found were always very far south. It seemed South America and the southern US were populated before the Clovis migration. Even Clovis itself is questionable since Asians never made that type of point the only other place they were made was Europe. They are ignoring the likelihood that there were migrations earlier that have no decendants. Just look at things like native american long houses. They are the same as Viking ones. Odds are there were multiple migrations from Europe that were wiped out. There have been skeletons found that were potentially European but the local indian groups have always fought testing. Look at another one the Mound Builders. That definitely started in the UK and it coincidentally showed up later in the Eastern US. There are simply too many coincidences related to the northeast and Europe.
    • by dewatf (209360)
      The log houses are the same because that is the best way to make a log house out of those type of trees with an axe.

      When the Clovis people settled the sea level was lower so the coast areas they may have lived in the North are now on the sea floor. That has always been part of the Clovis theory.
      • by locopuyo (1433631)
        He said long houses not log houses.
        • by nut (19435)

          He said long houses not log houses.

          GP's point is still valid though. Given similar materials and tools it's not unreasonable to theorise that two geographically separate cultures simply came up with the same general solution to the same problem.

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:28PM (#40623685)

      The only thing I question is they are still sticking by the Clovis dogma and insisting that the two other waves were later.

      I think the field of anthropology is finally abandoning the Clovis-first model that was believed for so long. There have been too many anomalous findings that challenge it, mostly in the past 15-20 years I think.

      There's a pretty good summary of the evidence on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], if you're interested.

      Interestingly, a bit further down in that article they mention a publication that firmly established a single-wave model. Looks like there's some reconciliation to be done.

      IMO the most interesting thing about settlement of the Americas is the whole haplotype X [wikipedia.org] thing, which strongly suggests a genetic relation between the early peoples of northern North America and Europe or the Middle East. Though that fact is well established, I recommend skepticism when reading interpretations of what it means, because a lot of people take that ball and run a long way with it. However, as best I can tell it can't simply be dismissed as a parallel mutation, because of the way X is embedded down at a specific point in a whole tree of haplotypes.

      The problem is that any interpretation of what haplotypes mean tends to get very political very fast, especially with people who want to use it to support crank claims or religious/nationalist primacy fantasies.

      • by dasunt (249686)

        IMO the most interesting thing about settlement of the Americas is the whole haplotype X thing, which strongly suggests a genetic relation between the early peoples of northern North America and Europe or the Middle East. Though that fact is well established, I recommend skepticism when reading interpretations of what it means, because a lot of people take that ball and run a long way with it. However, as best I can tell it can't simply be dismissed as a parallel mutation, because of the way X is embedded d

        • Have the possibilities of an early European people moving east and then over Bering been ruled out?

          I don't think so. In fact, the map at the Wikipedia article seems to suggest that.

          Then again, I suppose movement over the sea ice across the northern Atlantic is more probable.

          I think that's the popular view. I don't know whether there's an established scholarly view. And I try to resist the urge to speculate, since I'm utterly unqualified.

          Its really interesting what DNA can and cannot tell us. Obviously genetics isn't everything, but it can help us track the flows of people. Combined with archaeological evidence, it also can give us a slightly clearer picture of what happened. Then again, it can open up a lot of unresolved questions.

          Precisely.

        • Have the possibilities of an early European people moving east and then over Bering been ruled out? After all, Caucasians have been found everywhere from western Europe, to southern India, and Xinjiang.

          It is a possibility, but it is one best confirmed with an archeological/anthropological find, not one via haplotypes. The reason for this, and using haplotype X as an example, is as follows (a pausible theory):

          Some population X (called so because they carry haplotype X) at some point migrated somewhere in Asia, and from there split into several groups, of which two survived long enough for their genetic contribution to persist to the present day. One moved Westward and contributed their version of haploty

      • by bjdevil66 (583941)

        The problem is that any interpretation of what haplotypes mean tends to get very political very fast, especially with people who want to use it to support crank claims or religious/nationalist primacy fantasies.

        I'm LDS/Mormon, and I agree. Trying to use the evolving knowledge and understanding of DNA evidence to support or refute anything of a religious nature is a dangerous undertaking. Just a few years ago, people were saying there's no way anything in the Book of Mormon could be factual because of the

    • making mounds and long houses are not unique to vikings and native americans

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sperbels (1008585) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @12:12AM (#40624547)
      By this same line of reason we could conclude that the Olmecs, Mayans, and Aztecs were Egyptians because they built pyramids.
    • by Disfnord (1077111)

      Oh my fucking god. How is this garbage moderated 5, Interesting?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sounds more like they arrived in a corpuscular fashion, perhaps in 3 discrete groups of particles. i.e. ships traveling across an ocean and hitting the shore each with a distinct 'thud'.

    • maybe they existed in both sides of the ocean at the only time but only appeared in North America when we observed them? I heard they had a cat

  • Waves, yes. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:07PM (#40623527)

    The earliest immigrants arrived in waves, more recent immigrants arrived in boats...

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

      The earliest immigrants arrived in waves, more recent immigrants arrived in boats...

      While the most recent immigrants are arriving in planes
       

  • by IonOtter (629215) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:13PM (#40623565) Homepage

    Animals: What the heck are those thing...OHSHI-*thump* ARRRGH! *dies from rock to head*

    First Wave: Who they heck are those gu...OHSHI-*thunk* ARRGH! *dies from fire-hardened spear to the guts*

    Second Wave: Who the heck are those gu...OHSHI-*THOCK!* ARRGH! *dies from Clovis point to the chest*

    Third Wave: Who the heck are those gu...OHSHI-*BOOM!* ARRGH! *dies from musket ball*

    Makes you wonder what the next wave for us is going to look like?

    Probably something like: "What's that in the sk*FLASH! sizzle-pop*

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:22PM (#40623639)

    ...but they also behaved like particles.

  • I am sure others see the humor in this stories title.

    LOL

  • Clovis culture is very European. Perhaps all Clovis people died out so there is no DNA evidence.

    • by Sperbels (1008585)

      Clovis culture is very European.

      You're basing this on what? The shape of some arrowheads, right? I'd hardly call that a basis for such a bold statement.

      • What are the odds of them choosing that name by chance? Well, eh?

        Charlemagne would have been a dead giveaway.

  • by Swampash (1131503) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @10:46PM (#40624163)

    A migration from Siberia 15,000 years ago? I'm calling bullshit. If it happened, it would be in the Bible. And as if the Earth even existed 15,000 years ago!

    In conclusion, Jesus.

  • Earliest Americans Arrived In Waves, DNA Study Finds

    I think it would be safe to say that the Earliest Americans, arrived in the first wave. Yes?

  • I thought the summary said "earliest"? We have bones that predate that quite substantially ...

  • The Indians came to USA in dribs and drabs till 1960s. That was the time the employment based visa rules allowed the first wave of doctors and engineers to immigrate. Once the doctor shortage was declared to be over by AMA, there was a wave of nurses in 1980s. Then engineers were coming in small numbers till 1990s. Then the IT boom and the Y2K scare created a wave of 130,000 H1B visas per year that went mostly to Indians. After it has been reduced to 65000, due to off shoring and local labor market improvem
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @07:16AM (#40626459) Journal
    The author of the article, Nicholas Wade, compares the inheritance and mutation trees of different things to deduce what happened in the prehistory. Actually professional scientists do it, and Wade makes it readable for others.

    In hist book, Before the Dawn, he describes the mutations in the parasite body louse (different from head louse) that lives of humans. From it you can build a tree of migration of human bands. You can also look at the mutations in Y chromosome. Or the mito-chondrial DNA. Or the language families and their inheritance traits.

    The most significant finding is that, all these lines of evidence agree. They don't contradict each other. And they are not very broad either so the concordance is significant. Other interesting things are, we started wearing clothes 75000 years ago. Body louse can live only in clothing, it split off from head louse 75000 years ago. There was a Y chromosome Adam, last common ancestors to all living humans about 75000 years ago. There was a mitochondrial eve, last common female ancestor who lived in Africa some 130000 years ago.

    I think he mentioned that dogs were domesticated in East Asia/Siberia some 20000 years ago. Did Amerindians have domesticated dogs? That would be a very interesting marker.

    • by C0R1D4N (970153)
      Yes native americans had domesticated dogs, that is not something that couldnt have developed independently though. Dogs and cats probably domesticated themselves as an easy way to get food.Yes
  • ... when studying anthropology -- in college and grad school -- the three wave theory seemed to already be commonly accepted. And Eskimos have been recognized as belonging to a separate wave forever (or almost so). This testing may be new and useful because it provides additional confirmation of a long-standing theory -- but it does not amount to any sort of new theory as to the population of the americas from Siberia.

  • Since there is an increasing wealth of archeological sites that predate 15,000 years ago it seems these people must have eliminated the original native inhabitants of the americas.

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