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Strewth – Australian genetic link to founding of the Americas

Strewth – Australian genetic link to founding of the Americas

New Scientist

Image: Orlando Calheiros

Deep in the Amazon, geneticists have found an unexpected Australian twist to the story of how the Americas were founded.

Genetic studies suggest that all Native American groups owe most – and in some cases all – of their ancestry to a single population that arrived in North America from Siberia at least 15,000 years ago.

Even so, some of the earliest human skeletons found in the Americas have features less like those of Siberians and more like those of indigenous people living in Australia and on some islands of South-East Asia. That could just be a coincidence, or it could reflect some unrealised genetic ties between the Americas and Australia.

A new analysis suggests it is the latter. Geneticists led by David Reich and Pontus Skoglund at Harvard Medical School have analysed DNA from 63 people belonging to 21 Native American populations – and compared the information with DNA data from 197 populations elsewhere in the world – and found that there really is an Australian flavour to some Native American genomes. Read more on…