DNA Of Ancient Alaskan Babies Revealed Native American Migration

Posted: Oct 28 2015, 9:50pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

DNA of Ancient Alaskan Babies Revealed Native American Migration
The Upward Sun River archaeological site in Alaska where the infants were buried. / Credit: Ben Potter, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Some DNA samples taken from ancient infants buried in Alaskan graves were shown to be vitally linked to Native Americans.

Researchers at the University of Utah have found DNA material from the ancient grave sites of two Alaskan babies that prove that they were linked to Native American stock. The period in time when these babies died was some 11,500 years ago.

These babies had different mothers and they were related to North and South American Indians. Thus the hypothesis that can be deduced from this finding is that such a long time ago, both North American Indians and South American Indians traced their genetic roots to Alaskans who arrived over the Bering Strait.

Native Americans it seems are the descendants of a Mongoloid race that traveled from Asia to America via the Bering Strait. This was a mass of land that in ancient times spanned Siberia and Alaska. These ancient humans spent some 10,000 odd years in the Bering region and then made their way into the New World.

This journey of dissemination began about 15,000 years ago. The graves of the infants are the earliest example of human beings in North America. Their Native American lineages show the proof that American Indians originally came from Asia.

“These infants are the earliest human remains in northern North America, and they carry distinctly Native American lineages,” says University of Utah anthropology professor Dennis O’Rourke, senior author of the paper set for online publication the week of Oct. 26 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We see diversity that is not present in modern Native American populations of the north and we see it at a fairly early date. This is evidence there was substantial genetic variation in the Beringian population before any of them moved south.”

An illustration of an 11,500-year-old grave in central Alaska that contained a rare double burial of two infants dating to 11,500 years ago. Outlines of the two sets of remains are shown at left and center. Also found in the grave were a stone cutting tool, above center, and animal antlers with spear points, right of center.

Photo credit: Ben Potter, University of Alaska Fairbanks

The proliferation and multiplicity is seen only in early man. The genetic changes that occurred in the ancient populations that survived the conditions on the Bering Strait show that their lifestyles transformed in accordance with the environment.

As they moved south probably in search of greener pastures, their genes also underwent subtle but sure mutations. The strange thing is that this genetic similarity does not exist between the Asian population and the Native American populations today. The change in genetic material occurred sometime in the middle.

The fact is that in very ancient times infants were seldom given a burial. One of these infants found was a few weeks old while the other was a case of late miscarriage. This discovery was reported in a journal. The isolationist theory holds true here.

In the oldest sites where graves were found, all the five lineages of modern day Native Americans could be traced via DNA testing. This corroborates the theory even more so.

In the eight sites, “we find all five of the major lineages of Native Americans,” Tackney says. “That indicates that all were present in the early population in Beringia that gave rise to all modern Native Americans.”

The teams of researchers doing the digging and exploration at the sites deserve a pat on the back for their unceasing efforts and hard work which finally bore fruit. The genome sequences were traced from the maternal side so there is no chance of any error. The modern Indian populations show little variation in diversity of lineage.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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