Genetic Evidence Could Rewrite History of First Americans

Jul 29, 2015

by Mark Strauss

Since the 1930s, it’s been a generally accepted theory that indigenous Americans are descendants of Siberians who came to the New World by crossing a land bridge into Alaska around 15,000 years ago.

But, the details of that migration remain a source of contention. Did the Asians who trekked across the Bering Strait arrive in one or several waves? Were some of them isolated from the rest, settling on the land bridge until it submerged beneath the water of melting glaciers?

Two new studies—relying on genetic data from living individuals and ancient skeletons—offer possible answers, albeit with different interpretations.

The first research paper, published this week in Nature, suggests that there were two founding populations. The investigating scientists, led by Harvard University geneticist David Reich, discovered that present-day Amazonian peoples in South America can trace at least part of their ancestry to indigenous Australasian populations in New Guinea, Australia, and the Andaman Islands.


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2 comments on “Genetic Evidence Could Rewrite History of First Americans

  • The investigating scientists, led by Harvard University geneticist David Reich, discovered that present-day Amazonian peoples in South America can trace at least part of their ancestry to indigenous Australasian populations in New Guinea, Australia, and the Andaman Islands.

    When we visited Terra Del Fuego, we were told about the Yamana natives of that area, that are part of this DNA linkage to Australian Aborigines. Different on looks and culture to the American Indians.

    I find this research stunning. Australia has evidence of human habitation going back 50,000 years. One of the oldest continuous cultures on the planet. Australian Aborigines along with Papuans, have the highest percentage of Denisovian DNA. So they have a very ancient lineage.

    I speculate that Australian Aborigines were part of the first wave of “Out of Africa”. It is reasonable to trace their route to Australia with lower sea levels. Basically, a very long walk, and maybe a canoe trip or two across the Indonesian archipelago.

    But this “Out of Africa” outflow arrived in Australia, at least 50,000 years ago, then how did they get to the Amazon and Terra Del Fuego. The article I read a couple of days ago, said the researchers had no hypothesis as to how they arrived in the Americas. Did they go via the Russia / Alaska route. No evidence. No artifacts. No bones. So does that mean they cross the Pacific? Or, did the first “Out of Africa” movement cross the Atlantic.

    Absolutely fascinating. What a mystery best seller.



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  • Makes you wonder how these populations managed to trek across the pacific, survive, and re-colonise, and why that was deemed necessary. That some serious navigation and survival skills, not to mention technology.

    Forget Columbus and all those fancy pants hacks!



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