A new “genetic prehistory” provides the best picture ever assembled of how the North American Arctic was populated, from 6,000 years ago to the present.
DNA sequences from living and ancient inhabitants show a single influx from Siberia produced all the “Paleo-Eskimo” cultures, which died out 700 years ago.
Modern-day Inuit and Native Americans arose from separate migrations.
Previously our understanding of this history was based largely on cultural artefacts, dug up by archaeologists.
Researchers of North American prehistory have long disagreed about the lineages of Arctic peoples, ranging from the first arrivals who mostly hunted ox and reindeer, through at least four other cultural groupings, to the modern Inuit and their marine hunting culture.
“Since the 1920s or so, it has been heavily discussed what is the relationship between these cultural groups,” said senior author Prof. Eske Willerslev from the Natural History Museum of Denmark, which is part of the University of Copenhagen.
“All kinds of hypotheses have been proposed. Everything from complete continuity between the first people in the Arctic to present-day Inuits, [while] other researchers have argued that the Saqqaq and the Dorset and the Thule are distinct people.”
Read the full, original story: DNA reveals history of vanished ‘Paleo-Eskimos’