Saturday, April 7, 2012

Are Native Americans From Russia?

People of the Altay Mountains
A couple weeks ago I wrote an article stating that new evidence recently discovered in Native American archeological sites suggest that there may be a connection between Stone Age natives in the New World and the Stone Age Solutrean culture of Europe. This remains true. However, a separate genetic study has also recently discovered evidence which strengthens the theoretical link between the DNA of Native Americans and native Siberians.

According to National Geographic, Theodore Schurr, an anthropologist affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, has conducted an in depth genetic study comparing Native American groups with their Siberian counterparts. Between 1991 and 2003, Schurr and other Russian scientists collected genetic samples from the Altay region of Siberia. In addition, the team also collected over 2,500 samples from Native tribes in Canada, the US, and Mexico.

The team focused on both the mitochondrial DNA, passed down through our female ancestors, and Y DNA, passed down from our male ancestors. By calculating mutations within these DNA patterns, Schurr identified an ancient mutation that occurred around 18,000 years ago in the Y DNA of Siberians from the Altay region. According to Schurr, this same mutation appears in the Y DNA of Native American groups. Although, the article did not specify exactly which groups.

This newer genetic evidence seems support the generally accepted theory that most Native American groups immigrated from Siberia to North America by using the Bering Land Bridge roughly 15,000 years ago.

Despite the evidence presented in this study, other anthropologists have suggested that Schurr might be jumping the gun a bit. These scientists point out that the same mutations Schurr identifies as similarities between the Altay Siberians and the Native Tribes of the Americas also occurs in other Asian populations like Mongolia and China. Before any assumptions are made, these anthropologists suggest that a genetic dating study needs to be completed on these other East Asian populations.

This evidence does not necessarily contradict the Stanford and Bradley Solutrean theory, as the previous article stated that there was a lack of European DNA in modern native populations. Stanford and Bradley suggested that the Siberian nomads might have overrun the previously established population of European origin. In addition, both theories still lack physical evidence, which is now covered by the oceans which returned following the end of the Ice Age.

In my opinion, it is likely that both the Asian and European Native American origin theories are at least partially correct. In addition, I suspect other native populations in North and South America probably have separate origins. New studies like these are just now beginning to shed light on the patterns of ancient human migrations, a subject about which we have previously had a lack of concrete information. As I am kinda a geek for studies like this, I will be eagerly anticipating new information and research on this subject.