Experts Divided on Native American Origins

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The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge. In “Beyond Science” Epoch Times collects stories about these strange phenomena to stimulate the imagination and open up previously undreamed of possibilities. Are they true? You decide.

In some ways, it’s hard enough to figure out what’s going on in the world today, let alone glimpsing into the dim corners of ancient history or the penumbra of prehistory.

Epigraphers analyze primitive etchings on rock. Geneticists analyze DNA samples from modern Native Americans and the ancient remains of their purported ancestors. Archaeologists pick through the debris of distant eras.

To explore extensively all their findings and hypotheses would require hundreds of pages. We will not provide a comprehensive look at all the evidence and will not include every theory. But, we will provide a glimpse at varying expert opinions to show that the case of Native American ancestry is far from closed.

Did a single wave, or perhaps a few waves, of migration populate the Americas, arriving via the Bering Land Bridge that connected Siberia and Alaska during the Pleistocene epoch (which ended about 11,700 years ago)? Did the ancient Native Americans remain isolated for thousands of years until the Vikings landed?

Or did smaller groups of explorers who haven’t made it into today’s history books slip into the New World throughout the ages?

Right: (Rossella Apostoli/iStock) Left: (Bonnie Hoogenboom/iStock)

A Harvard Medical School article published in July, titled “Genetic Studies Link Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon and Australasia,”quoted genetics professor David Reich: “There’s a strong working model in archaeology and genetics, of which I have been a proponent, that most Native Americans today extend from a single pulse of expansion south of the ice sheets—and that’s wrong. We missed something very important in the original data.”

There’s a strong working model … that most Native Americans today extend from a single pulse of expansion south of the ice sheets—and that’s wrong.

— David Reich, Harvard Medical School

Reich is the senior author of a study conducted at Harvard showing that Native Americans in the Amazon bear an unexpected genetic connection to indigenous people in Australasia. This suggests a previously unknown wave of migration to the Americas.

Also published in July, was a study by an international team of researchers, including senior author Dr. Ripan Malhi, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, titled “Genomic evidence for the Pleistocene and recent population history of Native Americans.” 

This study supports a single migration event. A single group migrated to America, then split into two distinct populations—the northern and southern populations.

The findings challenge a hypothesis that a second migration crossed the Bering Land Bridge, a hypothesis supported by analyses of skull shapes. Malhi said his study found no genetic evidence to support more than one migration.

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