Scientists have been fascinated with the origin of Native Americans for decades. Now, molecular genetics is helping scientists put together a detailed story about when people migrated to the New World, how they got here, and even what might have driven their journey.
This is a regular news story, as opposed to a Planet-of-the-Apes column, but it relates to evolution. It ran under Health, which is odd since it’s not a health story. It was originally supposed to run Friday in a longer version with pictures and a map, but factors beyond my control changed things. I'm still trying to track down the map. Here's the story:
By comparing DNA samples from hundreds of volunteers, a Penn anthropologist and his colleagues have tied Native Americans to a group of people living in a small region of Russia called the Altai, near the borders of Mongolia, China, and Kazakstan.
The results, published in Friday's issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, add another chapter to the story of the settlement of the Americas. Increasingly efficient DNA technology is helping scientists flesh out the prehistory of the Native Americans and of the human race in general.