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Earth Science

DNA Reveals History of Vanished "Paleo-Eskimos" 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
An anonymous reader writes The earliest people in the North American Arctic remained isolated from others in the region for over 4,000 years before vanishing around 700 years ago, new analysis shows. The study also reveals that today's Inuit and Native Americans of the Arctic are genetically distinct from the region's first settlers. "A single founding population settled, and endured the harsh environmental conditions of the Arctic, for almost 5,000 years — during which time the culture and lifestyle changed enough to be represented as distinct cultural units," explained Dr Maanasa Raghavan, first author of the new paper.
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DNA Reveals History of Vanished "Paleo-Eskimos"

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  • Paleo ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rossdee (243626) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @03:57PM (#47796669)

    4000 years ago isn't that ancient. The clovis people were around in the americas 12,000 years ago

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2014 @04:01PM (#47796681)

    Although it isn't widely taught about in North American schools and even colleges due to it being a politically sensitive topic, anyone who looks into the matter in more depth is sure to learn about the Clovis culture [wikipedia.org] that existed in North America prior to the arrival of the ancestors of what are today called "Native Americans".

    It's likely that the ancestors of today's "Natives" may have helped contribute to the elimination of the Clovis people.

    So it is in fact quite hypocritical of today's "Natives" to complain about the actions of Europeans centuries ago, when they themselves very likely engaged in the same sort of behavior when they arrived some time earlier.

  • by dugancent (2616577) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @04:21PM (#47796747)

    ~80% of current Native Americans are direct decedents of Clovis people.

    http://www.npr.org/2014/02/13/... [npr.org]
    http://news.ku.dk/all_news/201... [news.ku.dk]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2014 @06:10PM (#47797143)

    The Clovis people were physically large and quite peaceful. When your battle is with the environment you gain more from helping each other then by going to war. By contrast, the invading Inuit came over around the same time Genghis Khan was around. They brought with them bows, limited amounts of iron, and knowledge of war. Once established, the Clovis people, who used spears for hunting, were quickly wiped out. There are some archaeological sites in northern Canada which, along with reports from the Inuit, that confirm this scenario. The Inuit then started conflicts with the various different tribes to their south. To this day there is still a difference between Native American and Inuit - they don't really get along. Sort of like the Scottish and British.

  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @06:50PM (#47797245)

    There is a lot of scientific reasons to doubt the Solutrean hypothesis, and very little scientific reason to back it. For instance, the lack of DNA or linguistic similarities. As of now, it is a theory mostly supported by the Discovery channel and such.

    40 thousand years of contact, with no evidence to show for it? It seems very unlikely. There's been pretty good written records in Europe for more than 2,000 years, surely if there was constant contact with the New World there would have been some kind of record.

    Leaving the Solutrean hypothesis aside for a minute some of these 'crazy' ideas that our ancestors were more mobile than we give them credit for have been stigmatized by the great egos in the scientific community in the past to the point where putting serious effort into investigating them was the equivalent of professional suicide. Even so sometimes, not always, but sometimes, they deserve better than to be ignored. In fact there is a written record that goes back at least a thousand years about contact between Europe and N-America:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saga_of_Erik_the_Red [wikipedia.org]
    These records have been well know for a long time but nevertheless until the discovery of L'Anse aux Meadows [wikipedia.org] was rubbed in their faces some scientists thought accounts of Viking travel to the Americas were folk tales that should not be taken seriously. Since then Native American DNA has been found in Icelanders and that DNA is thought to be the result of pre-Columbian contact. Basically there is now genetic evidence that at least one Native American woman was brought to Iceland where she married a local man resulting in a group of living descendants:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/11/101123-native-american-indian-vikings-iceland-genetic-dna-science-europe/ [nationalgeographic.com]
    This is not really so surprising if you think about it. If the Vikings, who count among the greatest navigators and seafarers in history, could find America. Why is it unthinkable that some Native Americans could not have gone back with them to Europe? There is no mention of this in the Sagas or contemporary annals but does that mean it didn't happen? The DNA seems to tell a different story. Another good example is that there is a growing body of evidence that Native Americans had pre Columbian contact with Polynesians which was considered laughable not so long ago. In retrospect it seems pretty ridiculous to think that scientists once considered it obvious a people who are arguably the greatest navigators on earth and who were capable of sailing for thousands of miles over open ocean between tiny islands with primitive technology would have missed what are by far the two biggest islands in the Pacific but that's sicentists for you. In the end they are only human and it takes a change of generations for the thinking to change.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2014 @11:47PM (#47798237)

    All this reminds me of the Lake Mungo skeletons in Australia.
    Despite having no genetic link to modern Aborigines, these skeletons were returned to the Aborigines and are not allowed to be "studied" nor any new remains studied.
    DNA showed them to be unrelated to Aborigines and more "European" looking, especially at 6'5" and slender.
    It is a total travesty that we are unable to properly investigate their part in evolution.
    Their existence threatened the idea of Aborigines being the "first" Australians and hence were "removed" from further research.

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