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17 February 2014
Clovis skeleton reveals origins of Native Americans

Clovis skeleton reveals origins of Native Americans

The remains of a one-year-old Ice Age boy who died 12,600 years ago were discovered near a rock cliff on the Anzick ranch in central Montana in 1968, along with a multitude of distinctive burial artefacts, such as spear points and antler tools. The skeleton and burial artifacts were covered with powdered red ochre, a type of mineral.
     An international team of researchers a have now sequenced the genome of the "Clovis boy" and compared it with genetic information of modern Native Americans across the Americas, as well as with that of ancient Europeans, Asians and Greenlanders. Their results show that approximately 80 percent of today's Native Americans are direct descendants of the boy's contemporaries - particularly the indigenous people who today live in Mexico and South America. The remaining 20 percent are found among some of Canada's First Nations, who - while not direct descendents - are still more closely related to Clovis than any genetic group from any other continent.
     The Anzick Clovis boy also shares about a third of his genome with another ancient youth, a 24,000-year-old Siberian child known as the Mal'ta boy, whose remains were also recently analysed.
     "The genetic findings mesh well with the archaeological evidence to confirm the Asian homeland of the First Americans... and is consistent with occupation of the Americas a few thousand years before Clovis," said Dr Michael Waters, Director of the Center for the Study of First Americans at Texas A&M University, and lead archaeologist on the team.
     The similarities and differences among these native groups suggest a genetic "split" took place within the boy's lineage thousands of years before his time. From one branch came the ancestors of some Canadian First Nations, while the other branch led to the Clovis boy and his family, and their descendants who make up the majority of Native Americans today.
     "The genetic information provided by the Anzick boy is part of the larger story of modern human dispersal across the Earth and is shedding new light on the last continent to be explored and settled by our species," Dr Waters said.

Source: Western Digs, Bio News Texas (12 February 2014)

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