Saturday, 15 February 2014
Ancient American's genome mapped
Present-day Native Americans are descended from some of the continent's earliest settlers, a genetic study suggests.
Scientists sequenced the genome of a one-year-old boy who died in what is now Montana about 12,500 years ago.
Some researchers have raised questions about the origins of early Americans, with one theory even proposing a link to Ice Age Europeans.
But the Nature study places the origins of these ancient people in Asia.
The infant was a member of the Clovis people, a widespread, sophisticated Ice Age culture in North America. They appeared in America about 13,000 years ago and hunted mammoth, mastodon and bison.
The boy's remains, uncovered at the Anzick Site in Montana in 1968, were associated with distinctive Clovis stone tools. In fact, it is the only known skeleton directly linked to artefacts from this culture.
But the origins of the Clovis people, and who they are related to today, has been the subject of intense discussion.
Eske Willerslev, from the University of Copenhagen, and his colleagues were able to extract DNA from the bones of the Anzick boy and map his genome (the genetic information contained in the nucleus of his cells).
The researchers found that around 80% of today's Native Americans are related to the "clan" from which the boy came.READ MORE
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