Who were the first people to ever inhabit the Americas?
In sequencing the DNA of the remains of a boy from an ancient burial site in Montana, scientists from the University of Copenhagen have provided more evidence that the first humans to arrive in the Americas were originally from Northeast Asia. Until now, evidence of this migration has been primarily from archaeological findings.
In this latest study, DNA was taken from 13,000-year-old bones found in a burial site of the Clovis culture, the oldest widespread culture in North America. The DNA sequence of the “Clovis boy” revealed that his DNA is similar to that of present-day Native Americans of North and South America, as well as to Siberians.
What does this mean about the ancestors of contemporary Native Americans? 30,000 years ago, “Beringia” – or the “Bering Land Bridge” – provided a walk-able connection between continents that are now separated by sea. The study supports that there was a migration by individuals from Siberia across the land bridge to the Americas more than 15,000 years ago – giving rise to the Clovis culture and the Clovis boy, and eventually to today’s Native Americans.
We can’t exactly re-trace the route of the ancestors of the first Native Americans, since we can’t walk from Siberia to Alaska anymore. But at AncestryDNA, we’re pleased to see that ancient DNA has filled in some of the details about their journey.
About Julie Granka
Julie has been a population geneticist at AncestryDNA since May 2013. Before that, Julie received her Ph.D. in Biology and M.S. in Statistics from Stanford University, where she studied genetic data from human populations and developed computational tools to answer questions about population history and evolution. She also spent time collecting and studying DNA using spit-collection tubes like the ones in an AncestryDNA kit. Julie likes to spend her non-computer time enjoying the outdoors – hiking, biking, running, swimming, camping, and picnicking. But if she’s inside, she’s baking, drawing, and painting.