In DepthHUMAN EVOLUTION

Latin America's lost histories revealed

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Science  13 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6385, pp. 137-138
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6385.137

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Summary

If you walked the cobblestone streets and bustling markets of 16th and 17th century Mexico City, you would see people born all over the world: Spanish settlers, indigenous Americans, Africans, and Asians. All these populations met and mingled for the first time in colonial Latin America. Historical documents describe this cultural mixture, but now, international teams of researchers are enriching our view of colonial Latin America by analyzing the genomes of today's people. Aided by sophisticated statistics and worldwide genetic databases, they can tease apart ancestry and population mixing with more nuance than ever before. The results, reported at a meeting this week and in a preprint, tell stories that have been largely forgotten or were never recorded in historical documents. From the immigration of enslaved Filipinos and Africans to that of formerly Jewish families forbidden to travel to the colonies, hidden histories are emerging.