Originally Posted: July 21, 2015
The Americas were the last great frontier to be settled by humans, and their peopling remains one of the great mysteries for researchers. This week, two major studies of the DNA of living and ancient people try to settle the big questions about the early settlers: who they were, when they came, and how many waves arrived. But instead of converging on a single consensus picture, the studies, published online in Science and Nature, throw up a new mystery: Both detect in modern Native Americans a trace of DNA related to that of native people from Australia and Melanesia. The competing teams, neither of which knew what the other was up to until the last minute, are still trying to reconcile and make sense of each other’s data.
“Both models … see in the Americas a subtle signal from” Australo-Melanesians, notes Science co-author David Meltzer, an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. “A key difference is when and how it arrived in the New World.” The Nature team concludes it came in one of two early waves of migration into the continent, whereas the Science team concludes it came much later, and was unrelated to the initial peopling. READ MORE