- Tiny region in central Russia has DNA link to native Americans today
- Ancestors thought to have walked across ice 13,000 years ago
- Altai is 'key place', because central location means ancient peoples passed through
By Rob WaughLast updated at 11:21 PM on 26th January 2012 Altai in southern Siberia sits right at the centre of Russia. But the tiny, mountainous republic has a claim to fame unknown until now - Native Americans can trace their origins to the remote region.DNA research revealed that genetic markers linking people living in the Russian republic of Altai, southern Siberia, with indigenous populations in North America.A study of the mutations indicated a lineage shift between 13,000 and 14,000 years ago - when people are thought to have walked across the ice from Russia to America.
Altai in Siberia: A study of genetic markers in DNA showed that the lineage of Native Americans changed around 13-14,000 years ago - when people are thought to have walked across the Bering Strait
This roughly coincides with the period when humans from Siberia are thought to have crossed what is now the Bering strait and entered America.
'Altai is a key area because it's a place where people have been coming and going for thousands and thousands of years,' said Dr Theodore Schurr, from the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
Among the people who may have emerged from the Altai region are the predecessors of the first Native Americans.
Roughly 20-25,000 years ago, these prehistoric humans carried their Asian genetic lineages up into the far reaches of Siberia and eventually across the then-exposed Bering land mass into the Americas.
'Our goal in working in this area was to better define what those founding lineages or sister lineages are to Native American populations,' Schurr said.
The region lies at the intersection of what is now Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.
An engraving of early native Americans from the 1500s: DNA research hints that their ancestors came from one tiny region in central Russia
Dr Schurr's team checked Altai DNA samples for markers in mitochondrial DNA which is always passed on by mothers, and Y chromosome DNA which sons inherit from their fathers.
Because of the large number of gene markers examined, the findings have a high degree of precision.
'At this level of resolution we can see the connections more clearly,' Schurr said.
Looking at the Y chromosome DNA, the researchers found a unique mutation shared by Native Americans and southern Altaians in the lineage known as Q.
Mitochondrial DNA is found in tiny rod-like 'powerplants' in cells that generate energy.
Both kinds of DNA showed links between Altaians and Native Americans.
In the Y chromosome DNA, the researchers found a unique mutation shared by Native Americans and people from southern Altai.The findings are published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics.Calculating how long the mutations they noted took to arise, Schurr's team estimated that the southern Altaian lineage diverged genetically from the Native American lineage 13,000 to 14,000 years ago, a timing scenario that aligns with the idea of people moving into the Americas from Siberia between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago.Though it's possible, even likely, that more than one wave of people crossed the land bridge, Schurr said that other researchers have not yet been able to identify another similar geographic focal point from which Native Americans can trace their heritage.'It may change with more data from other groups, but, so far, even with intensive work in Mongolia, they're not seeing the same things that we are,' he said.In addition to elucidating the Asia-America connection, the study confirms that the modern cultural divide between southern and northern Altaians has ancient genetic roots
Lee, Aberdeen: "So where did the people in Altai come from then?" - Altai, probably.
- David Bourke, Rochester, Kent., 27/1/2012 14:43
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Still doesn't prove whether they were coming or going, maybe they immigrated to Asia from America. Foxes have their lairs, birds have their nest; but there is nowhere for the son of man to lay his head down and rest.
- same as it allways was, Yehupatai Nevada U.S.A., 27/1/2012 14:36
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me thinks Alti people went from Americas over the bering strait to russia.
- yolk, inside an egg, 27/1/2012 14:36
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To Dragonhead, Wellington, New Zealand, 27/1/2012 05:09 -- You say "The out of Africa theory on just about everything, just took another knock" -- On the contrary, the migration out of Africa occurred about 60000 yrs before the migration from Asia into the Americas. Of course, people did not simply just walk from Africa to the Altai region directly. Instead, they spread slowly, moving when the increasing population put pressure on the local environment. In addition, this slow migration was almost brought to a complete halt by the eruption of Toba about 80000 yrs ago, which probably wiped out about 90% of the world's human population. HTH.
- EB, Milton Keynes, 27/1/2012 13:40
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So they are immigrants, not indigenous after all. OK they got there first, but we are all humans with equal rights to live where we want. All this indigenous clap trap is just selfish hogging. One Planet for Humanity. All are equal. - RGH, London, 27/1/2012 11:13 ------ The difference being that no peoples were displaced at bayonet point by the Natives who crossed the land bridge. A lot of natives were murdered firstly by European setllers and then by consecutive generations of Americans.
- Howie, Manchester, 27/1/2012 13:28
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So they are immigrants, not indigenous after all. OK they got there first, but we are all humans with equal rights to live where we want. All this indigenous clap trap is just selfish hogging. One Planet for Humanity. All are equal. - RGH, London, 27/1/2012 11:13---------Equal rights? Very nice... So uprooting them (after the massacres) and forcing them onto reservations was O.K. according to you. Do you actually know what you're saying?
- K., U.K., 27/1/2012 13:15
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Re: So they are immigrants, not indigenous after all. OK they got there first, but we are all humans with equal rights to live where we want. All this indigenous clap trap is just selfish hogging. One Planet for Humanity. All are equal. - RGH, London, 27/1/2012 11:13 Post of the Decade.
- John Bailey, Preston England, 27/1/2012 13:13
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Oh Dear. The Mormons will be extremely dissapointed and concerned with this bit of news. Their whole religion is based on the apparent restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smiths' translation of the Book of Mormon. It clearly states that around 600B.C. at the time the Jews were taken into exile, a group of Israelites (not from Russia) built a boat and went to the promised land of America. These immigrants split into two factions; the Nephites and the Lamanites, and a great deal of the book deals with their wars, which supposedly ended with the Lamanites wiping out the Nephites. The Lamanites were suposedly made red-skinned as a punishment from God and Mormons teach that their descendents are the native American Indians. Now DNA testing has proved that to be incorrect, which means that the whole Mormon (Latter Day Saints) religion is built upon a lie. he Salt Lake City spin doctors will have real problems explaining this one away.
- Andrew, Kent, 27/1/2012 13:11
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Dates such as these are often calculated using genetic dating which assumes that genetic mutations happen at a certain, constant rate; therefore (the argument goes) count the number of mutations and you have a resultant age. The problem is the assumption that mutation rates are not always constant for every part of the genome. This has come to light in a study by Oregon State University which concludes that dating speciments using the genetic 'clock' is, quote, fundamentally flawed. Fossils found in Cambrian rocks (500 million years old, according to evolutionary timescales) were dated by the standard mutation rate at 1,200 million years, which is now said to be between 2 and 6 times longer - up to 7.2 billion years! Dating using natural processes must rely on a variety of assumtions, but using the dating given in the eye-witness accounts contained in the bible are far more reliable. It seems strange that many reject eye-witness accounts in favour of those base on dubious assumptions.
- Nigelsquare, Wales, 27/1/2012 13:09
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So they are immigrants, not indigenous after all. OK they got there first, but we are all humans with equal rights to live where we want. All this indigenous clap trap is just selfish hogging. One Planet for Humanity. All are equal. - RGH, London, 27/1/2012 11:13----They should not have been uprooted, (after the massacres), and forced into settlements. Where's the equal rights in that? Do you even know what you're talking about?
- Mary, U.K., 27/1/2012 12:55
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