The 12,000-year-old skeleton of a teenage girl discovered in a cave in Mexico has confirmed a genetic link between earliest Americans and modern Native-Americans.
Anthropologists have long debated the reasons as to why the skulls of ancient humans in the Americas were narrower and showed other distinct characteristics that differed from modern Native Americans, with some hypothesising that these people came to America from other regions around the world.
However, by studying the mitochondrial DNA from the tooth of the remains of the ancient teenage girl, who fell into a sinkhole in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula more than 12,000 years ago, the researchers found a genetic lineage shared only by modern Native Americans.
Deborah Bolnick, assistant professor of anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin, said:
“The Hoyo Negro girl was related to living Native Americans and has ancestry from the same Beringian population. This study therefore provides no support for the hypothesis that Paleoamericans migrated from Southeast Asia, Australia or Europe. Instead, it shows that Paleoamericans could have come from Beringia, like contemporary Native Americans, even though they exhibit some distinctive skull and facial features. The physical differences between Paleoamericans and Native Americans today are more likely due to changes that occurred in Beringia and the Americas over the last 9,000 years.”
The scientists’ research was published in the journal Science.