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DNA from Clovis Boy Shows Native Americans Descended from Asians

Feb 13, 2014 05:25 AM EST
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Genome sequencing of the Clovis boy, whose remains were found in Montana in 1968, has helped a team of researchers trace the genetic history of Native Americans. Their study shows that Asians, not Europeans, were the direct ancestors of American Indians.

The latest genomic analysis of the Clovis boy shows that his people were direct ancestors of modern North Americans. He is the first ancient American whose complete genome has been sequenced.

Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of First Americans at Texas A&M University, worked on the current investigation.

"We were able to extract DNA from the bones and show that the ancestors of this boy originated from Asia. These people eventually migrated to North America, settled the continent, and gave rise to Clovis," Waters explained in a news release.

DNA analysis showed that the boy was more closely linked with central and South Americans than people from Canada. Reasons for this difference aren't clear, Associated Press reported.  Also, the Clovis boy's ancestors came from Asia, showing that Asians migrated to the New World via the ancient land bridge that connected the two continents.

The boy was about 1 year and 18 months old when he was buried along with 125 artifacts, which included pointed spears and antler tools.

Clovis people were toolmakers and first appeared in North America around 13,000 years ago. They are named after an archaeological site near Clovis, N.M.

Waters said that the artifacts and the skeleton were covered in red ochre, indicating that he was buried.

The skeleton is also called the Anzick skeleton as it was found on the land of Anzick family in central Montana. The skeletal remains and artifacts have helped archaeologists understand the origin and culture of the ancient Clovis people.

"I was just a small child in 1968 when the only Clovis burial site was identified accidentally on my parents' property in Wilsall, Montana," Sarah Anzick at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont., told Live Science. She is the co-author of the study.

The study also dispels the idea that Western Europeans were the first people in the Americas, New Scientist reported. It is published in the journal Nature.

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