In DepthHuman Genetics

New mystery for Native American origins

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Science  24 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6246, pp. 354-355
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6246.354

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Researchers still argue about how and when the first Americans settled in North and South America, and particularly about whether they came in one or multiple waves. Two new papers, one in Science and the other in Nature, attempt to shed light on this question, but they come to different conclusions: The Science team finds one wave, and the Nature team finds two. The two research groups do agree on one thing, however—some of today's Native Americans have the genes of ancient people from Australia and Melanesia in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Knowing whether that mysterious genetic contribution came early, as the Nature team thinks, or much later, as the Science team concludes, may hold the key to remaining riddles about the peopling of the Americas.