Native Americans and Northern Europeans More Closely Related Than Previously Thought

North_Atlantic_Ocean_laea_relief_location_map

I know this will send the folks at FOX News and in the Republican Party into epileptic fits, but research published last month in Genetics, the journal of the Genetics Society of America, shows that people of Northern European and Native American ancestry are closely related.  In fact, very closely related.

Using genetic analyses, scientists have discovered that Northern Europeans descend from a mixture of two different ancestral populations, and one of these populations is related to Native Americans.  The revelation helps to provide some explanation for genetic similarities between what would otherwise be divergent groups.

“There is a genetic link between the paleolithic population of Europe and modern Native Americans,” says Nick Patterson, co-author of the report.  “The evidence is that the population that crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia into the Americas more than 15,000 years ago was likely related to the ancient population of Europe.”

Patterson worked with David Reich, Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics, and other colleagues to study DNA diversity and found that one of these ancestral groups was the first farming population of Europe.  Their DNA survives in Sardinians, people of the Basque Country and perhaps the Druze population of the Middle East.  The other ancestral population probably comprised the initial hunter-gatherers of Europe.  These two populations were considerably different when they met, but today the hunter-gathering ancestral populations of Europe appear to have its closest affinity to people in far Northeastern Siberia and Native Americans.

Scientists have long since theorized that people traversed eastward out of Siberia into North America during the Great Ice Age.  Initially, some placed the migration between 15,000 and 11,000 B.C., while others push it back to 25,000 B.C.  Oddly, though, Dr. Ron Janke, a professor of geography at Valparaiso University in Indiana, presented a theory in 2008 that the first peoples in the Americas actually came from Europe.  Considering that the Human Genome Project pretty much proves that we’re all related as a people, no one should be too surprised by these revelations.  Regardless, as someone of mixed European and Indian ancestry, I feel I’ve been vindicated!

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