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March 8, 2018

Ancient Population Discovery!

New evidence reveals a previously unknown population of ancient Native Americans. An NSF-funded team led by archaeologists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks analyzed Ancient-DNA from the cremated remains of one of two already discovered Ice Age infants from the Upward Sun River site in the North American Arctic. The infant girl, named sunrise girl-child by the local Alaska Native community, died shortly after birth more than 11,000 years ago. She and the younger infant were closely related, likely first cousins. This ancient-DNA data provides an unprecedented window into the history of her people. The genetic testing suggests that the group which the team named “Ancient Beringian” remained in the Far North for thousands of years, while the ancestors of other Native American peoples spread south through the rest of North America. This new information gives researchers a more accurate picture of Native American prehistory. It also offers Alaska Native people new scientific knowledge about their heritage, including evidence that all Native Americans are descended from a single founding population.

Credit: NSF/University of Alaska Fairbanks

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