Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Tracking the First Americans

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Tracking the First Americans

Article excerpt

The original Americans came from Siberia in a single wave no more than 23,000 years ago at the height of the last Ice Age and apparently hung out in the north--perhaps for thousands of years--before spreading in two distinct populations throughout North and South America, according to a new genomic analysis.

The findings, reported in Science, confirm the most popular theory of the peopling of the Americas but throws cold water on others, including the notion of an earlier wave of people from East Asia and the idea that multiple independent waves produced the major subgroups of Native Americans we see today, as opposed to diversification in the Americas.

This Ice Age migration over a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska is distinct from the arrival of the Inuit and Eskimo, who were latecomers, spreading throughout the Artic beginning about 5,500 years ago.

The analysis, using the most comprehensive genetic data set from Native Americans to date, was conducted using three different statistical models. The data consisted of the sequenced genomes of 31 living Native Americans, Siberians, and people from around the Pacific Ocean, and the genomes of 23 ancient individuals from North and South America, spanning a time between 200 and 6,000 years ago. …

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