Surprise as DNA reveals new group of Native Americans: the ancient Beringians

Genetic analysis of a baby girl who died at the end of the last ice age shows she belonged to a previously unknown ancient group of Native Americans A baby girl who lived and died in what is now Alaska at the end of the last ice age belonged to a previously unknown group of ancient Native Americans, according to DNA recovered from her bones.

The newly-discovered group, named “ancient Beringians”, appears to have split off from the founding population of Native Americans about 20,000 years ago.

He added that he was unconvinced that the ancient Beringian group split from the ancestors of other Native Americans 20,000 years ago, because even tiny errors in scientists’ data can lead to radically different split times for evolutionary lineages.

While the ancestors of other Native Americans pushed south into the continent as the ice caps thawed, the ancient Beringians remained in the north until they eventually died out.

Researchers tried to recover ancient DNA from both of the infants but succeeded only in the case of the larger individual.

Those who settled in the north became the isolated ancient Beringians, he said, while those who moved south, around or through the ice sheets, split into the north and south Native Americans about 15,700 years ago.

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