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Genome of Native American Ancestry

First complete genome sequence of an ancient North American offers clues to Native American ancestry

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A new study published in the journal Nature has revealed the first ever genome sequence of an individual that belonged to the Clovis culture, a prehistoric culture that inhabited the Americas around 13,500 years ago. The study is helping to piece together Native American ancestry.

The genetic analysis was carried out on a male infant discovered in 1968, known as ‘Anzick boy’, who lived 12,600 years ago.  He was found at a burial site along with about 125 artefacts, including Clovis fluted spear points and tools made from antlers.  It is the oldest burial found in North America, and the only known Clovis burial.

Scientists investigated a prehistoric culture known as the Clovis, named after sites discovered near Clovis, New Mexico.  For more than 20 years anthropologists have debated whether they arrived in the New World by walking over a land bridge across the Bering Strait, or by sea from southwest Europe millennia earlier, the so-called ‘Solutrean hypothesis’. There has also been debate over whether the Clovis were the first people to arrive in the Americas. For more than half a century, archaeologists thought the Clovis were the first, but recently, evidence has emerged showing that humans were in the New World before the Clovis.  These controversies have made it difficult to piece together the true origins of the Native American population.  However, the findings of the latest study help to resolve some of the unanswered questions.

The study found that the Clovis people are the direct ancestors of many contemporary Native Americans, and are closely related to all Native Americans. "We found the genome of this boy is closely related to all Native Americans of today than to any other peoples around the world," study co-author Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen

The DNA analysis also links Native Americans today to ancient migrants from easternmost Asia. This research "has settled the long-standing debate about the origins of the Clovis," Willerslev said. "We can say the Solutrean theory suggesting Clovis originated from people in Europe doesn't fit our results."  Anthropological geneticist Jennifer Raff of the University of Texas, added that the study “is the final shovelful of dirt” on the European hypothesis.

The scientists also discovered evidence of a deep genetic divergence that occurred between northern Native American groups and those from Central and South America that happened before the Clovis era. Specifically, although most South Americans and Mexicans are part of the Anzick lineage and therefore Clovis, northern Canadian groups belong to another lineage.

However, not all experts are convinced. "We definitely have some stuff here in the east of the United States that is older than anything they have in the west," said anthropologist Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution, a proponent of the out-of-Europe model. "They've been reliably dated to 20,000 years ago," too early for migrants from Beringia to have made the trek, he said, and strongly resemble Solutrean artefacts.

The debate about Native American origins is far from over, but scientists hope the Anzick boy has yielded all his secrets:, he will be reburied in a traditional ceremony by early summer.

By April Holloway



Yup, one grave does not a theory break. One day the evidence will bear out the truth and the truth may be that there were multiple points of entry at multiple timelines. Why is this concept even a problem to anyone? It may be that it was not hard to hug the coastline that existed then and make your way from some points in Europe over to North America. This would not even require open water navigation nor vessels that could handle ocean swells. Whats more important now is not to jump to conclusions but gather more and more data.

How dare an anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institute attack the Clovis proponents. The Smithsonian has confiscated thousands of bones and artefacts from Pre-Clovis civilisations and destroyed countless Mounds throughout North American built by an intelligent race of Giants. They were there before Clovis and Solutrean but do not fit Darwinian evolution nor Out of Africa. 

See The Ancient Giants who ruled America, Richard J Dewhurst, (Bear & Co) 2014 for a comprehensive resource ino these Enigma people and the lies and manipulation of the Smithsonian. 

Dennis Stanford, need look no further than his own organisation to support his own argument, unfortunately the  truth will destroy his little world.

Very true Angie...this debate is truly just beginning. I have seen evidence that people came from both Europe before the Clovis, by a couple of thousand years, but this is based on the evidence found "SO FAR". I am open to both ideas because I know they both came here, but who is to say people were not already here. It is hard to believe that people started or were created in one paticular point on the planet and then spread out from there. Couldn't it be possible that people were everywhere or at least say some group of people on each continent. If you believe pangea then maybe when everything broke off people jsut went with it. I know both groups, the Clovis and the European group, influenced each other and learned from each other. People, at the core, are all the same, we are all of the same material and as now, we learn from each other, we grow from each other, we mate and have offspring with each other. Over hundreds of thousand of years there could have been so much intercultural mating. Just because we trace clovis through most Native Americans, you have to remember we killed of a huge portion of there population, so all your testing is the lone survivors of these atrocities. NOt all of the cultures that are long gone, like the Iroquoes or other northeastern tribes.

angieblackmon's picture

I just watched a show on the History Channel about the Clovis people. Quite the interesting bunch. 

love, light and blessings


I hardly care which theory is correct but to say flatly from genetic evidence of a single burial that the matter is finally disposed of strikes me as nigh unto intellectual dishonesty. Please, a little more academic restraint and a little less blatant cheerleading for a pet theory.


aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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