A man who lived in Siberia about 14,000 years ago is the earliest known person in the world to have the specific mix of genes seen in people with Native American ancestry, analysis of DNA from a fossilised tooth has revealed.
This suggests the link between ancient Siberian and Native American people is much deeper and stronger than previously thought, says He Yu at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany.
Yu and her colleagues dated the fossilised tooth, originally found near Lake Baikal in southern Siberia, to about 14,000 years ago in the Upper Palaeolithic era. They then extracted and sequenced DNA and compared it with sequences from ancient and modern Native American people.
Their analysis revealed the man as the earliest ever discovered with the specific mixture of ancient north Eurasian and north-east Asian ancestry commonly present in Native American people. The earliest previously known individual in the world with similar ancestry lived about 11,500 years ago.
It is thought that the ancestors of modern Native Americans first migrated to North America from Siberia at least 15,000 years ago across the Bering land bridge – a piece of dry land that at that time connected modern Russia and what is now Alaska. (Journal reference: Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.037. Layal Liverpool, New Scientist 30 May 2020)
My comment: Some years ago my wife and I visited a native American reservation in Utah. A more depressing experience is hard to imagine: few jobs, a lot of alcohol consumed, and poor health. We bought some artifacts, which mainly served to illustrate ancient skills, but not modern ones. The economic straits of the locals were very clear. Not a happy visit.