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Nature

Clovis People Were Ancestors to Nearly All Native Americans

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Lisa Winter

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clockFeb 14 2014, 20:47 UTC
319 Clovis People Were Ancestors to Nearly All Native Americans
Sarah Anzick

Genetic analysis of a skeleton from a Clovis skeleton discovered in the United States has revealed that almost all living Native Americans can trace their lineage back to this group of people. This had been suspected for quite some time and now it has been confirmed. The study was led by Eske Willerslev of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and was published in Nature.

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The Clovis people are regarded as the first group of people to really expand out in North America and down into South America. Signs of Clovis culture died out approximately 500 years after they arrived and their disappearance is considered fairly mysterious. The remains of a toddler Clovis boy, discovered on privately owned land in Montana nearly 50 years ago, is the only Clovis skeleton in America to be studied. A new genetic study has finally provided answers as to his peoples’ fate. 

Genetic analysis revealed that around 80% of all living Native Americans in Mexico and throughout South America can trace their roots directly back to the Clovis people. The remaining 20% isn’t as directly related, yet they are still incredibly closely linked. These results provide a concrete link to the end of the Clovis and the beginning of the Native Americans; both of which had been hotly debated for years. It is still unclear how the Clovis influenced the genealogy of Natives currently living in the United States. 

The analysis also provided insight into the origins of the Clovis people themselves. When their ancestors first crossed from Siberia into North America, they were part of a larger group. Half of the people remained up north and spread throughout Alaska and Canada while the other half (which would become the Clovis) moved south, eventually reaching South America. This means that the Clovis people were the first Native Americans and did not come from Europe, Asia, or Melanesia as has been previously hypothesized. It is still unclear who the very first people to cross into North America were.

The international press conference is set to be held on a reservation in Montana, not far from where the Clovis boy was discovered. The scientists have been working with members of the Apsaalooke (Crow) tribe in order to establish a dialogue about the findings, which the researchers hope to continue with future studies. A spokesman for the tribe celebrates the result and commended the researchers on their respect and commitment throughout the study. Per the request of the tribe, the remains of the small Clovis boy will be reburied later this year. 


Nature
  • genetics,

  • human evolution,

  • Clovis people,

  • migration

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