32000-year-old teeth bridge gap between Siberia and US

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 7, 2019

The worldwide team of scientists, led by Professor Eske Willerslev who holds positions at St John's College, University of Cambridge, and is director of The Lundbeck Foundation Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, have named the new people group the "Ancient North Siberians" and described their existence as "a significant part of human history".

Researchers reached this conclusion after analyzing the DNA of a 10,000-year-old male fossil near the Kolyma River in Siberia. It is "the closest relative to the ancestral Native American population in northeastern Siberia that has been found to date", the study authors wrote. In this site, there were also discovered two small milk teeth and, based on their DNA recovered, and those are the only humans remains from the era. They survived by hunting woolly mammoths, as well as woolly rhinoceroses and bison.

John Hoffecker from the University of Colorado Boulder, who was not involved in the study, welcomed the research, saying a striking feature of the study is that humans were faring well in north-eastern Siberia, even in very hard conditions, 30,000 years ago - with the genetic data from the teeth suggesting the males belonged to a population of about 500 people.

The complex population dynamics during this period and genetic comparisons to other people groups, both ancient and recent, are documented as part of the wider study which analysed 34 samples of human genomes found in ancient archaeological sites across northern Siberia and central Russian Federation. "The genomes were then compared to other modern and ancient genomes, to learn about their genetic relationships and reconstruct their population history", Sikora said.

There's still a lot left to learn about the intricacies of these early migrations-but their complexity "makes total sense", Connie Mulligan, an anthropologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville who was not involved in the study, told Price. Most of Kolyma1's genome technically belongs to a distinct lineage the researchers call Ancient Paleo-Siberian-and the two lines that gave rise to her people and the actual ancestors of Native Americans probably splintered about 24,000 years ago.

Two children's milk teeth buried deep in a remote archaeological site in north eastern Siberia have revealed a previously unknown group of people lived there during the last Ice Age. However, the majority of their DNA was attributed to another group, which the team have dubbed the Ancient Paleo-Siberians.

For at least the last century archaeologists and anthropologists have generally agreed that the first humans arrived in North America having struggled across the icy wastes of Beringia, a vast land mass that bridged the seas between Siberia and Alaska.

This group of ancient people might be the missing link to understand the genetics of Native American ancestry, as the first humans who made their way in America, using the land of Alaska, were from Siberia. Their analysis reveals genetic ancestry that's a mixture of Ancient North Siberian and East Asian, which closely resembles the genetic makeup of Native Americans. "This is also the reason you don't have any very close connection between contemporary Siberians and Native Americans".

The woman, called Kolyma1, is not part of the group that founded the Native American population; that migration happened much earlier.

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