First Explorers: The Siberia-Native American Connection

Future studies are needed to better understand the relationships of Inuit populations living on both sides of the Bering Strait. ©Eric Rock

First Explorers: The Siberia-Native American Connection

When early, intrepid European explorers first began trekking through the New World in the late 1400s, they were awed by the strikingly different cultures they encountered. But they also came to notice something else: remarkable physical similarities between the Asian peoples they had seen during their many travels and these new, soon-to-be-known-as “Native Americans.”

Now, some genetic evidence is showing these observant, long-ago explorers weren’t too far off the mark. DNA analysis of ethnic groups living in the Altay Mountains of southern Siberia have revealed a unique genetic mutation that also occurs in modern-day northern Native Americans.

So while an Asian-Native American biological connection has long been suspected, this could be the first hard evidence we have that pinpoints where our country’s indigenous peoples originated, suggesting their true genetic “homeland.”

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