2012 Archives

Earliest Americans Arrived in Waves, DNA Study Finds


The following is from the July 12, 2012, edition of The New York Times. SMU Anthropologist David Meltzer, the Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory, provided expertise for this story.

July 12, 2012


North and South America were first populated by three waves of migrants from Siberia rather than just a single migration, say researchers who have studied the whole genomes of Native Americans in South America and Canada.

Some scientists assert that the Americas were peopled in one large migration from Siberia that happened about 15,000 years ago, but the new genetic research shows that this central episode was followed by at least two smaller migrations from Siberia, one by people who became the ancestors of today’s Eskimos and Aleutians and another by people speaking Na-Dene, whose descendants are confined to North America. The research was published online on Wednesday in the journal Nature. . .

Archaeologists who study Native American history are glad to have the genetic data but also have reservations, given that several of the geneticists’ conclusions have changed over time. “This is a really important step forward but not the last word,” said David Meltzer of Southern Methodist University, noting that many migrations may not yet have shown up in the genetic samples.

Read the full story.

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