Posted by Julie Granka on February 26, 2014 in AncestryDNA

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.


Clovis Boy
Clovis cache: The child’s skull was found in Montana with a host of Clovis tools. Photo Credit: Samuel Stockton White.

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.


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.


  1. Don Huffman

    I understand that these bones were 13000 years old and that the DNA was similar to others mainly Native Americans, but I have heard of recently that there have been remains of humans found in a Windover, Florida Bog (also with some tools and other personal belongings) that provide a link to people that may have crossed an ice bridge to the eastern north America and at about the same age from North Western Europe about the same time. So could it be that the Americas, primarily North America, could have been settled by humans from both North East Asia and North Western Europe? I understand that DNA was also sequenced from that find. I am not trying to diminish any facts that one was here before the other, but could it have been reasonably simultaneous, both from the West and the East? I would love to here any comments from Julie or others familiar with this .
    Don Huffman

    • Julie Granka

      Hi Don, thank you for your interest. You bring up an interesting archaeological finding. There is still debate among the scientific community about whether the second scenario you raise is consistent with genetic and other archaeological findings.

  2. Pamela Marie Galvan Tamez

    With the DNA taken from the Clovis Boy will Ancestry be able to obtain the results and match their members who have had their DNA to the Clovis Boy DNA?

    • Julie Granka

      Hi Pamela, thanks for your interest. AncestryDNA will only compare your DNA to people living today to potentially match you up with your living relatives.

Comments are closed.