Studies of ancient DNA offer new insights into human migration between Siberia and North America

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Image: John McDougall

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that humans migrated to the North American continent via Beringia, a land mass that once bridged the sea between what is now Siberia and Alaska. But exactly who crossed, or recrossed, and who survived as ancestors of today’s Native Americans has been a matter of long debate.

Two new DNA studies sourced from rare fossils on both sides of the Bering Strait help write new chapters in the stories of these prehistoric peoples. 

The first study delves into the genetics of North American peoples, the Paleo-Eskimos (some of the earliest people to populate the Arctic) and their descendants.

The findings reveal that both ancient and modern peoples in the American Arctic and Siberia inherited many of their genes from Paleo-Eskimos. Descendants of this ancient population include the Yup’ik, Inuit, Aleuts and Na-Dene language speakers.

The second study focused on Asian lineages.

Researchers retrieved genetic samples for 34 individuals’ remains in Siberia, dating from 600 to 31,600 years old.

In this case, the Ancient North Siberians arrived in Beringia and likely mixed with migrating peoples from East Asia. Their population eventually gave rise to both the First Peoples of North America and other lineages that dispersed through Siberia.

Read full, original post: Ancient DNA Reveals Complex Story of Human Migration Between Siberia and North America

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