In DepthArchaeology

Americas peopled in a single wave, ancient genome reveals

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Science  05 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6371, pp. 14
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6371.14

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Summary

A rare smidgen of ancient DNA has sharpened the picture of one of humanity's greatest migrations. Some 15,000 to 25,000 years ago, people wandered from Asia to North America across a now-submerged land called Beringia, which once connected Siberia and Alaska. But exactly when these ancient settlers crossed and how many migrations occurred are hotly debated. Now, researchers have sequenced the oldest full genome from an ancient American, an 11,500-year-old infant from the site of Upward Sun River in central Alaska. The child's genome suggests that some settlers stayed in Beringia while another group headed south and formed the population from which all living Native Americans descend. That supports the idea that Asian migrants lingered in Beringia and became genetically isolated, the so-called Beringian standstill model.