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Earth Science

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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  • Windover Bog People (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:26PM (#40623167)

    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-european-contacts.html

  • 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"?

  • 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.

  • Re:Sciodiots (Score:5, Informative)

    by jheath314 (916607) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @11:50PM (#40624451)

    Actually, there are examples of "one off" events in early human history, such as the migration out of Africa by a subset of the ancestral human population some 50,000 years ago.

    According to Nicolas Wade's fascinating book "Before the Dawn" (yes, the same Nicolas Wade from TFA), all the genetic evidence points to a single band of maybe 150 people leaving the rest of the ancestral human population behind in Africa, and populating all the rest of the world. Of course, the natural question is, why didn't other waves follow them in all the millennia since then?

    The answer is, in part, that the first migrants already blocked the exits. The original departure from Africa was less a migration than it was an expansion... individuals tended to live in roughly the area they were born, and it was only the ever-growing population numbers that drove the advancing wave of modern humans through Asia and Europe generation after generation. The modern humans had a strong advantage (probably language) over the archaic hominids already occupying the new lands, but the human population in Africa had no such advantage over their brethren once the first wave spread out past the Red Sea. Hence, the migration out of Africa appears to have been a one-time event of the type you so quickly derided as nonsense.

  • Blood types (Score:5, Informative)

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:36AM (#40625441) Journal

    Ya where I live you can't mention this because the whole mytho thing. Very annoying science is science.

    I recall reading (maybe 20-30 years ago) that blood types were significantly different between North American and South American natives. According to these maps [palomar.edu], South and Central Americans are almost exclusively blood group O, while blood group A exists in North America, especially in arctic and subarctic regions. FYI, native Americans and East Asians often have Diego positive blood, whereas the rest of the world is exclusively Diego negative.

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