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Dual ancestry of Native Americans

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  • Dual ancestry of Native Americans

    Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans
    The origins of the First Americans remain contentious. Although Native Americans seem to be genetically most closely related to east Asians1, 2, 3, there is no consensus with regard to which specific Old World populations they are closest to4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Here we sequence the draft genome of an approximately 24,000-year-old individual (MA-1), from Mal’ta in south-central Siberia9, to an average depth of 1×. To our knowledge this is the oldest anatomically modern human genome reported to date. The MA-1 mitochondrial genome belongs to haplogroup U, which has also been found at high frequency among Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers10, 11, 12, and the Y chromosome of MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and near the root of most Native American lineages5. Similarly, we find autosomal evidence that MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and genetically closely related to modern-day Native Americans, with no close affinity to east Asians. This suggests that populations related to contemporary western Eurasians had a more north-easterly distribution 24,000 years ago than commonly thought. Furthermore, we estimate that 14 to 38% of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population. This is likely to have occurred after the divergence of Native American ancestors from east Asian ancestors, but before the diversification of Native American populations in the New World. Gene flow from the MA-1 lineage into Native American ancestors could explain why several crania from the First Americans have been reported as bearing morphological characteristics that do not resemble those of east Asians2, 13. Sequencing of another south-central Siberian, Afontova Gora-2 dating to approximately 17,000 years ago14, revealed similar autosomal genetic signatures as MA-1, suggesting that the region was continuously occupied by humans throughout the Last Glacial Maximum. Our findings reveal that western Eurasian genetic signatures in modern-day Native Americans derive not only from post-Columbian admixture, as commonly thought, but also from a mixed ancestry of the First Americans.
    Raghavan M. et al. Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans. Nature (2013)
    Mal'ta boy burial
    The Mal'ta boy was buried with a variety of artefacts, including a Venus figurine
    Spike. Mammoth tusk; carved. Length 300 mm.
    Replica of the child's grave at Mal'ta.
    Diagram of the child's grave at Mal'ta.
    1 - Flint Tools
    2 - Point
    3 - Bird Pendant
    4 - Plate 'Buckle'
    5 - Bracelet
    6 - Necklace
    7 - Pendant on the end of the necklace
    Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2007
    Source: The Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
    A good example of such finds is this complete necklace, found as a grave good of the child burial. The child was sprinkled with red ochre and charcoal. The necklace consists of one central and six secondary pendants and 120 flat beads. The surface of the pendants is entirely covered with pit-ornamentation.
    Photo and text:
    The pendant at the end of the Mal'ta necklace.
    Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2007
    Source: The Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
    Plate, or buckle. This may have been a breast ornament.
    Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2007
    Source: The Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
    Circular tents from Mal'ta, Siberia. These animal hide covered structures were bolstered with stones at the base. Photo:
    Circular dwelling made with a stone wall base, from Mal'ta, Siberia.
    Upper Paleolithic huts from Buret', Siberia. These structures date from about 12 000 BP
    Section of a house in Siberia, possibly similar to those at Buret', showing the corridor to the outside, and the fact that there were two modes of use, one for summer, and the other for winter, which cut down on the loss of heat from the building.
    Photo: Nelson (1881)

    Abramova Z., 1995: L'Art paléolithique d'Europe orientale et de Sibérie., Grenoble: Jérôme Millon.
    Bednarik R., 2010: An overview of Asian palaeoart of the Pleistocene, IFRAO Congress, September 2010 – Symposium: Pleistocene art of Asia (Pre-Acts)
    Childe, V.G., 1950: Cave Men's Buildings Antiquity, Volume: 24 Number: 93 Page: 4–11 Clark G., 1967: The Stone Age Hunters, McGraw-Hill, 1967
    Cohen C., 2003: La femme des origines. Images de la femme dans la préhistoire occidentale,, Paris, Belin-Herscher, 2003, 191 pages.
    Delporte H., 1979: L'image de la femme dans l'art préhistorique, Paris, Picard.
    Jelinek J., 1972: Das grosse Bilderlexikon des Menschen in der Vorzeit, Gütersloh. Bertelsmann-Lexikon-Verlag, P. 333
    Nelson, E., 1881: Eskimos about the Bering Strait
    Soffer, O., Adovasio, M., Hyland D., 2001: Reply to 'More on the Venus Figurines', Current Anthropology, Volume 42, Number 3, June 2001, pp 410-412
    Charlie Hatchett
    \"For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.\"