Cruising from Asia, the first Americans set off to the unknown



Almost 11,000 years ago, a man died in Nevada. He was wrapped in rabbit skin and mats, buried in a place called the Spiritual Cave.

Now scientists have recovered and analyzed DNA, along with 70 other ancient people whose remains have been discovered all over America. Conclusions give the amazing details of the story that was lost from prehistory: how and when people are spreading across the Western Hemisphere.

The oldest acquaintances from Asia have already been divided into distinguishable groups, research says. Some of these populations succeeded and became the ancestors of the indigenous population throughout the hemisphere.

But other groups died out completely and there were no traces, except what is in the old DNA obvious. New genetic research will actually come across a number of dramatic chapters in the population of America that archeology is not yet to reveal.

"They are now archaeologists," said Ben Potter of the University of Alaska, who did not participate in the new articles. "Holy cow, that's amazing."

Earlier studies have suggested that people at the end of the last ice age have moved from America to Siberia and Alaska via a land bridge beneath the Bering Sea. They stretch to the south and eventually reach the top of South America.

Until recently, geneticists could only have a small view of these huge migrations. Five years ago, only one ancient human genome was discovered in the Western Hemisphere, which appeared in Greenland at the age of 4,000 years.

The latest analysis, published in three separate studies, indicates turnover. In recent years, researchers have restored the genomes of 229 ancient teeth and bones discovered throughout America.

"It's basically a blast," said Dr. Willerslev.

The man from the spiritual cave in Nevada belonged to the so-called southern branch of migrants. He was also closely related to the 12,700-year-old boy found on the other side of the Rocky Mountains in Montana, Dr. Willerslev also found.

In his new study, Dr. Reich and his colleagues found no trace of the Y population – but Dr. Willerslev managed to identify his DNA in some of the 10,400-year-old skeletons in Brazil.

"The question of millions of dollars, of course, is how did that happen?" Said Dr. Willerslev.

Probably the second group of Asians entered America long before the ancestors of a man from the Spirit Cave and other early native Americans. Maybe they and Amazon met people before they disappeared completely.

Or maybe some morning members of the southern branch had some weird genes that survived the generations.

A new rise in genetic patterns reflects an improving relationship between scientists and indigenous peoples. For decades, many tribes have rejected DNA research requests.

The man from the spiritual cave, for example, was excavated by archaeologists in 1940 and deposited in the museum. Local tribe Fallon Paiute-Shoshone did not know about the body until 1996. For years, they had fought for his repatriation.

"It is totally disrespectful," said Rochanne L. Downs, a member of the Culture Committee. "If anyone went to the graveyard in Arlington and dug the grave of one of the soldiers and took the medals, it would be outrage."

Initially, the tribe was against looking for DNA in the skeleton because scientists would have to largely destroy it. Dr. Willerslev met the trunk and explained that he would only require a tooth and a small piece of ear bone.

Almost agreed to give him a single splash in DNA search in the Spirit Cave.

Results of Dr. Willerslev led the Soil Management Office to turn the skeleton into a trunk. They buried him from the Spirit Cave in an unpublished place last year.

Mrs Downs would not exclude similar studies in the future, but each request would require careful consideration.

"Everything will be the case," she said. "The main thing is our respect for the rest."


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