Feb 17, 2010

Ancient DNA points to additional New World migration

A 4,000-year-old Greenland man possessed close genetic ties to modern Siberians
Web edition : Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
A 4,000-year-old Greenland man just entered the scientific debate over the origins of prehistoric populations in the Americas.
A nearly complete sequence of nuclear DNA extracted from strands of the long-dead man’s hair — the first such sequence obtained from an ancient person — highlights a previously unknown and relatively recent migration of northeastern Asians into the New World about 5,500 years ago, scientists say.
An analysis of differences, or mutations, at single base pairs on the ancient Greenlander’s nuclear genome indicates that his father’s ancestors came from northeastern Siberia, report geneticist Morten Rasmussen of the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen and his colleagues in the Feb. 11 Nature. Three modern hunter-gatherer groups in that region — the Nganasans, Koryaks and Chukchis — display a closer genetic link to the Greenland individual than do Native American groups living in cold northern areas of North America, Rasmussen says.

Монголын эртний булшнаас Европ төрхтөний олдвор олджээ

Skeleton of Western man found in ancient Mongolian tomb
DNA from 2,000-year-old skeleton may put Indo-Europeans in East Asia
Dead men can indeed tell tales, but they speak in a whispered double helix.
Consider an older gentleman whose skeleton lay in one of more than 200 tombs recently excavated at a 2,000-year-old cemetery in eastern Mongolia, near China’s northern border. DNA extracted from this man’s bones pegs him as a descendant of Europeans or western Asians. Yet he still assumed a prominent position in ancient Mongolia’s Xiongnu Empire, say geneticist Kyung-Yong Kim of Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea, and his colleagues.
On the basis of previous excavations and descriptions in ancient Chinese texts, researchers suspect that the Xiongnu Empire — which ruled a vast territory in and around Mongolia from 209 B.C. to A.D. 93 — included ethnically and linguistically diverse nomadic tribes. The Xiongnu Empire once ruled the major trading route known as the Asian Silk Road, opening it to both Western and Chinese influences.
Researchers have yet to pin down the language spoken by Xiongnu rulers and political elites, says archaeologist David Anthony of Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. But the new genetic evidence shows that the 2,000-year-old man “was multi-ethnic, like the Xiongnu polity itself,” Anthony remarks.