Ancient Siberian Genome Sheds Light on Native American Origins

By Gemma Tarlach | November 20, 2013 12:11 pm
Genomic sequencing of a Paleolithic child found near Siberia's Lake Baikal has revealed important information about Native Americans' origins. Credit: Niobe Thompson.

Genomic sequencing of a Paleolithic child found near Siberia’s Lake Baikal has revealed important information about Native Americans’ origins. Credit: Niobe Thompson.

A long-running debate over the origins of Native Americans has taken a surprising twist on the shores of Russia’s Lake Baikal.

The genomes of two Paleolithic individuals — a 24,000-year-old juvenile and a 17,000-year-old adult — found at sites near the Siberian lake suggest Native Americans are more closely related to Western Eurasians than previously believed.

Native American Origins

Previously, many researchers believed Native Americans were likely descended from earlier East Asian populations who traveled across land bridges now submerged beneath the Bering Straits.

However the genome sequencing of the 24,000-year-old individual, known as MA-1, indicated that he was genetically most closely related to Native American lineages and to modern western Eurasians, but showed no clear relation to east Asians. That evidence, supported by the sequencing of a 17,000-year-old humerus from the same area, suggests a different scenario for the origins of Native Americans.

Researchers believe the genome represents a point on our family tree after west Eurasian and east Asian lineages split, placing Native American lineages more firmly in a western branch. It now appears that western Eurasians were disbursed over a larger, more north-easterly area than previously known, and it was these early hunter-gatherers who eventually migrated to North America.

The First Europeans

The authors estimate that about 14–38% of Native American ancestry might have originated from this western Eurasian stock, with the remaining proportion originating from east Asian populations. This could explain why skulls of some Native Americans bear features that do not resemble those of east Asians.

MA-1 also represents the earliest known genome for an anatomically modern human, according to the research team’s findings, published today in Nature.

Genetic evidence of west Eurasian ancestry in modern Native Americans was previously assumed to be the result of European colonization of the Americas from the 15th century on. It now appears, however, that neither Columbus nor 10th century Viking explorer Leif Eriksen — not even traveling Irish monks back in the fifth and sixth centuries — can claim to be the first Eurasian to set foot on the New World.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: genetics, human origins
  • Mikels Skele

    “earliest known genome for an anatomically modern human…” But far from the earliest known anatomically modern human, of course.

  • Guest

    Ifknown, it would be interesting to know MA-1’s Y-DNA group. Also, since MT-DNA does not exist in Native Americans, how this linkage was determined.

  • Guest

    If known, it would be interesting to know MA-1’s Y-DNA group. Also, since MT-DNA ‘U’ does not exist in Native Americans, it would be interesting to know how was this linkage was determined.

  • BR

    If known, it would be interesting to know MA-1’s Y-DNA group. Also, since MT-DNA ‘U’ does not exist in Native Americans, it would be interesting to know how this linkage was determined.

    • Normandie Kent

      Y dna and mtdna are only 2 lineages, R and U of the Malta child are ancient and were found exactly where NAs supposedly originated. They could’ve been lost in population bottle necks and genetic drift, and founder effects. So the Native Americans descendants autosomally of the Malta Buret people or another closely related people.



  • Dave_Mowers

    So Ignatius Donnelley was right along with a whole slew of alleged “quacks” and “racists” over the last two hundred years. I wonder if anyone will apologize publicly for besmirching Aryan migration theories now?

    Will anyone now claim the Solutrean hypothesis is bogus? What about Kennewick Man? Anyone want to claim he was not Caucasian now?

    …crickets….and more crickets…

    • Salistala

      No, Ignatius Donnelley was wrong, there was no Solutrean migration, and Kennewick Man is Native American

      wrong on all counts….

      • David Mowers


        • Normandie Kent

          No you are wrong! Kennewick man isNative American, the genetic study that established Kennewick Mans Native American heritage has been out for more than 2 years , since June 18, 2015. Hes is pure Native American and closely related to all other NAs. spirit cave mummy was also genetic tested, he is also closely related to Native.Americans. what you are spouting is out of date hypotheses that have no basis in fact, especially since all genetic studies to date on all paleo indians are ancestral to modern Native Americans. So guess what?! Even if there were Solutreans or Ancient Caucasians in America. They would have zero to do with you, Europeans, nor Modern Americans, and these supposed Caucasouids would still be the Ancestors of all the North and south american people, nothing would change the fact that the Native Americans are still the descendants of all ancient people in America. So I don’t know what you think this would all of a sudden change, its not like you would suddenly be these supposed Caucasians descendants. Besides that, you are more closely related to Africans and Arabs than any Solutrean hunter gatherers.

        • Salistala

          No, he is most definitely not Caucasian.

          And shouting the loudest does not make your argument any more true than others. It’s just loud….and….toothlessly gummy…

          • David Mowers

            Shouting delivers sound faster though?

          • Salistala

            Are you asking me?

            Then no, shouting does not change the speed of sound.

            A whisper travels just as fast as a zealot’s shout projected by megaphone. The shout does project farther though…

            …But if you’re wrong, and you’re shouting out that wrongness, aren’t you just letting more people know how wrong you are?

          • David Mowers

            Ahh…yet faster to be heard!

          • Salistala

            And yet you’re still wrong.

            There was no Solutrean migration, no “White Apocalypse”, and Kennewick Man is a Native American originating in Asia (just like every other ancient human remain in North America [9 in total]that has had it’s genetic code sequenced so far)

          • David Mowers

            There are white Caucasian native American New Mexicans who had no contact with Europeans until they were discovered.

            The Lenape language has been proven to be a corruption of Norse.

            The history of Latin American Natives includes Caucasian grandfathers who taught them everything they know.

            Roman coins were found buried when the airport in Atlanta was built.

            Roman statues have been found underneath ancient Mayan structures.

            An entire Roman ship was found offshore of South America.

            A Canaanite inscription was found at the rock of Jesus above Rio in Brazil.

            One tribe of native American Indians in the Great Lakes region spoke Welsh when they were discovered.

            Viking moorings are found all along the Hudson river and great lakes.

            Phoenician copper mines are found on islands in the great lakes. Native Americans there described the people who built them as white.

          • Salistala

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

            I’ve spent a day looking into most of your evidence. Nothing conclusively proved, most are spurious unproven conspiracies of fringe theorists. No solid evidence, just fables of knowing someone that saw the evidence once but now it’s conveniently lost or in some private collection.

            Or they’re forgeries, or the result of post-contact activity, or they are equally explained through the already accepted theories of Beringian migration.

            The truth is the earliest record of non-Beringian exploration of North America is Vinland. And that is only a 1,000 years ago and was only a series of outposts, not an actual established permanent colony.

          • David Mowers

            The pottery found in Peru that is featured nightly as evidence of aliens on Ancient Aliens TV show has cuneiform writing on it from Sumer.

          • Salistala

            That writing isn’t Sumerian, in fact nothing from that bowl looks remotely Sumerian.

            Look at examples of Sumerian writing (I did) and compare the characters and style.

            And I’m not looking at the shapes of the characters; I’m looking at the orientation of the characters, the organization of the characters, and mix of pictographs and characters on the Bolivian bowl.

          • David Mowers

            You are talking about the bowl from Tiahuanaco? The pictograms are styled exactly the same as Sumerian.

          • Salistala

            “…styled exactly the same..”

            No it isn’t.

            Many pre-literate societies used pictograms, and many had symbols in common (water, shelter, horse/llama, etc.) that were important to them.

            The main difference I see is the structure of the pictograms. Sumerian pictograms were organized in a very structured format, in a strict matrix with cells aligned horizontally and vertically at right angles to each other.

            The bowl pictograms and “cuneiforms” are, to say the least, haphazardly structured with little to no organization. To a critical thinker the two are unrelated.

            And the “scholar” that translated the pictograms to read as an appeal to a fertility god/goddess subscribes to the principle that a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters can eventually write a masterpiece. Like an appeal to a fertility god by reading the pictograms in whatever order is necessary to make the passage look plausible, but not by reading them in an order that most normal people (even ancient Sumerians) would see as natural.

            I stand by my assertion that the bowl is not Sumerian.

          • Salistala

            Crickets, Mowers…..all I hear are crickets….

          • David Mowers

            Did you even look at the bowl? Did you ever see the indigenous fishing boats on that lake made from reeds? Do you understand what the square cut-outs in the stones are for?


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