Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Prehistoric Mystery (Solved?)

"This demonstrates a genetic continuity between those people that first arrived in North America and modern Native Americans.
"This study shows that this is very unlikely [early skeletons not related to recent/living Native Americans] and these early Clovis people are indeed their direct ancestors."
Michael Richards, University of British Columbia
Artistic rendition: Wooly Mammoth & pre-Clovis man.

"I feel like this discovery basically confirms what tribes have never really doubted -- that we have been here since time immemorial and that all the artifacts and objects in the ground are remnants of our direct ancestors."
Shane Doyle, Crow tribal member, professor of Native American studies, Montana State University
And so, shortly paleoarchaeologists and Native Americans will be arranging the ceremonial, touching burial of a one-year-old child. This would be the remains of a one-year old child covered in red ochre discovered on a grassy hillside in Montana. Left there, and buried with him an assortment of stone and bone tools, dating, like the remains of the child, some 12,600 years ago.
The Clovis people were not the first humans in America, but they represent the first humans with a wide expansion on the North American continent -- until the culture mysteriously disappeared only a few hundred years after its origin. Now genome mapping shows that some 80 percent of all present-day Native American populations on the two American continents are direct descendants of the Clovis boy's family.
"It's almost like a missing link", mused Eske Willerslev, who headed the international team that studied and revealed the child's genome, in an article published in the journal Nature. Dr. Willerslev, of the University of Copenhagen, and his colleagues, state with confidence that their investigation confirms the Asian ancestry of the first North Americans, validating that the boy's genomes relate to current Native Americans of today.

The boy was buried near a rocky outcropping in Montana, on land owned by the Anzick family. A construction crew had unearthed the burial site in 1968, intriguing archaeologists for all that time, but the scientific means of studying the remains' DNA have only in the last several years been made available in a rigorously detailed process capable of parsing genetic inheritance and genetic constituents.

With the boy were discovered over a hundred stone and elk bone tools and other objects, proving that he was of the Clovis people, hunter-gatherers roaming North American over twelve thousand to thirteen thousand years ago; the only Clovis burial site thus far ever discovered. Although the origins and genetic legacy of the Clovis people have been a matter of debate with most scientists convinced they descended from ancient people migrating to North America from Asia through Siberia along the Pacific coast. some were convinced Clovis predecessors arose in Europe.

The latter theory has now been put to rest. And, according to Dr. Willerslev, the Anzick boy is "directly ancestral" to as many as 80% of Native Americans living today. "Some are directly descendent ... others are almost cousins", he stated with a level of confidence, at a "very, very rough estimate". 

"In fact, Anzick (the name given to the boy by the scientists) is closer related to all Native Americans, including those from Canada, than to anybody else in the world", he added. Indicating a "single migration" was responsible for the majority of the founding populations of the Americas south of the ice sheets at the close of the last ice age, according to study co-author Michael Waters of Texas A&M University.

"In essence, the Anzick boy tells us about the epic journey of our species", Dr. Waters stated. Adding to the larger primal history of dispersal of homo sapiens originating in Africa about 50,000 years ago, gradually spreading over Europe and Asia, and finally finding their way to North America.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet