In DepthHUMAN EVOLUTION

Ancient DNA tracks migrations around Americas

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Science  09 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6415, pp. 627-628
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6415.627

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Summary

For decades, scientists could describe the peopling of the Americas only in broad strokes, leaving plenty of mysteries about when and how people spread across the continents. Now, state of the art ancient DNA methods, applied to scores of new samples from around the Americas, are filling in the picture. Two independent studies, published in Cell and online in Science, find that ancient populations expanded rapidly across the Americas about 13,000 years ago. They also emphasize that the story continued in the thousands of years since, revealing previously undocumented, large-scale movements between North and South America. The data include 64 newly sequenced ancient DNA samples from Alaska to Patagonia, spanning more than 10,000 years of genetic history. Prior to these studies, only six genomes older than 6000 years from the Americas had been sequenced.