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ancient genome

Amerindian with European DNA

The whole genome sequencing of a 4-year-old boy buried 24,000 years ago in Siberia, near Lake Baikal, suggests that indigenous peoples of the Americas are much closer to Europeans than imagined. The skeleton was removed from a tomb back in the 1920s, but the material was only analyzed now, by geneticists Eske Willerslev, of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and Kelly Graf, of Texas A&M University in the United States. The two scientists found DNA sequences in the child’s genome that had previously been considered exclusive to modern Amerindians, along with other sequences now found solely among the peoples of Europe and the Altai Mountains, a region lying on the borders between China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia. The researchers hypothesize that these populations migrated to Siberia and soon mixed with people from East Asia before crossing the Bering Land Bridge, which was a strip of ice across the Bering Strait that linked Asia and North America around 15,000 years ago. These findings were reported at the Paleoamerican Odyssey conference, held in Santa Fé, New Mexico, in October 2013.