DNA sequences suggest 250 people made up original Native American founding population

May 2, 2018, University of Kansas
Credit: University of Kansas

A University of Kansas anthropological geneticist is part of an international research team working to shed light upon one of the unanswered questions concerning the peopling of the New World: Namely, what was the size of the original founding population of the Americas?

Despite numerous genetic studies that have helped contribute to knowledge about how ancient groups populated the Americas, scientists have not reached a consensus about how many Native Americans made up the original . This analysis of DNA sequences suggests the Native American founding population that migrated from Siberia consisted of approximately 250 people.

The study "How strong was the bottleneck associated to the peopling of the Americas? New insights from multilocus sequence data," published in the journal Genetics and Molecular Biology, includes Michael Crawford, KU professor of anthropology, and the researchers' results corroborate findings of previous studies that were based on smaller datasets.

"Going from a few hundred founders to around 40 million inhabitants of the Americas, who eventually live under different environmental conditions to which they adapt, is pretty exciting stuff," said Crawford, also head of KU's Laboratory of Biological Anthropology. "It's about understanding how evolution operates in terms of genetic diversity."

The researchers examined nine noncoding regions of the DNA samples collected from populations that trace the path of the migration. This included samples of individuals from China, 10 Siberian groups and from 10 Native American populations scattered across Central and South America representing several different tribal affiliations.

The Siberian population samples were collected just following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Crawford is an expert on genetic markers of Siberian human populations. Funded by the National Science Foundation, he led the first foreign anthropological team into Siberia in 1989 after the breakup of the Soviet Union. He also has worked on Aleut and Eskimo migration patterns from Siberia.

"It is difficult to go back in time to follow the populations, but we can characterize contemporary and estimate the mutation rates that have occurred in different regions," Crawford said.

In a 2015 study, Crawford was part of a group that found the ancestors of all present-day Native Americans entered the Americas from Siberia into what is now Alaska no earlier than 23,000 years ago. This founding group did split into the Athabascans and Amerindians after spending no more than an 8,000-year isolation period in Beringia—the land bridge that once connected Siberia to Alaska.

DNA sequences suggest 250 people made up original Native American founding population
Reindeer herders of Siberia are photographed by a research team led by Michael Crawford, KU professor of anthropology, who led the first foreign anthropological team into Siberia in 1989 after the breakup of the Soviet Union. In a recent study, researchers used DNA samples collected on this expedition from members of indigenous groups in Siberia and compared them with samples of individuals from China, and 10 Native American populations across Central and South America. The researchers' analysis of DNA sequences suggested the Native American founding population that migrated from Siberia consisted of about 250 people. Credit: Michael Crawford

In this new study, the researchers sequenced DNA from the nine independent, noncoding regions of the genomes from indigenous peoples distributed from China to South America spanning over 15,000 years. They determined the breeding size or founding populations by isolation-with-migration computer simulation models based on 100 million generations. Each analysis revealed founding groups were between about 229 to 300 people. This led the group to estimate the parameter for the original founding population of Native Americans of about 250 people.

Recognizing the size of this genetic bottleneck during the populating of the Americas is important for determining the extent of genetic markers needed to characterize Native American populations in genome-wide studies and to evaluate the adaptive potential of genetic variants in this population, according to the research group.

Crawford said the genetic data helps paint a fascinating picture of how the ancient migration unfolded.

"It wasn't a matter of a group that announced, 'Let's go follow this one,'" he said. "It was a matter of population fission among hunters and gatherers. There would be about 50 people, and when the population's fertility gets higher and higher, the population splits into the next so-called 'county' and then the next. After 15,000 years, you can put them all the way down in Argentina."

Explore further: Direct genetic evidence of founding population reveals story of first Native Americans

More information: Nelson J.R. Fagundes et al. How strong was the bottleneck associated to the peopling of the Americas? New insights from multilocus sequence data, Genetics and Molecular Biology (2018). DOI: 10.1590/1678-4685-gmb-2017-0087

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mackita
1 / 5 (1) May 02, 2018
Native American founding population that migrated from Siberia consisted of approximately 250 people
I see, Russians - that's why the white immigrants eradicated them later...
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) May 02, 2018
However, Mack...
Numerous of those "white immigrants" were - Russian...
Cusco
1 / 5 (1) May 03, 2018
"Native Americans entered the Americas from Siberia into what is now Alaska no earlier than 23,000 years ago. . . After 15,000 years, you can put them all the way down in Argentina."

Well, considering that they were already in Chile 30,000 years ago, and possibly even earlier in Brasil, I think their dating leaves a bit to be desired. Which then makes me wonder about the quality of the rest of their work.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (2) May 03, 2018
"Native Americans entered the Americas from Siberia into what is now Alaska no earlier than 23,000 years ago. . . After 15,000 years, you can put them all the way down in Argentina."

Well, considering that they were already in Chile 30,000 years ago, and possibly even earlier in Brasil, I think their dating leaves a bit to be desired. Which then makes me wonder about the quality of the rest of their work.


Citations? On what do you base this information?

Curious, not debating.
jonesdave
5 / 5 (1) May 03, 2018
"Native Americans entered the Americas from Siberia into what is now Alaska no earlier than 23,000 years ago. . . After 15,000 years, you can put them all the way down in Argentina."

Well, considering that they were already in Chile 30,000 years ago, and possibly even earlier in Brasil, I think their dating leaves a bit to be desired. Which then makes me wonder about the quality of the rest of their work.


Citations? On what do you base this information?

Curious, not debating.


https://en.wikipe...te_Verde

30 000 is still not fully accepted, but 18 500 BP seems to be robust.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (2) May 03, 2018


https://en.wikipe...te_Verde

30 000 is still not fully accepted, but 18 500 BP seems to be robust.


The 18500 timeline seems more likely, although I have seen some studies suggesting the older dates. I like that the lines of evidence seem to be converging, but I think there is a lot of study left. One wonders if there were other ways to get to the Americas - I think of the Polynesians and their ocean-crossing abilities. Interesting stuff!
mackita
1 / 5 (2) May 03, 2018
It seems that the panspermia hypothesis is back in the game: new peer-reviewed study in Science journal explain Cambrian Explosion with it: Cause of Cambrian Explosion - Terrestrial or Cosmic? "In our view the totality of the multifactorial data and critical analyses assembled by Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe and their many colleagues since the 1960s leads to a very plausible conclusion – life may have been seeded here on Earth by life-bearing comets as soon as conditions on Earth allowed it to flourish (about or just before 4.1 Billion years ago); and living organisms such as space-resistant and space-hardy bacteria, viruses, more complex eukaryotic cells, fertilised ova and seeds have been continuously delivered ever since to Earth so being one important driver of further terrestrial evolution which has resulted in considerable genetic diversity and which has led to the emergence of mankind."
mackita
1.3 / 5 (4) May 03, 2018
Article is open source and if you would find the time for its reading (which is particularly recommended just for traditional PhysOrg parrots like CaptainStumpy, Da Schneib, JonesDave or Antialias who use to downvote such an ideas the most), they could take a way wider memo from it, because it's not just about evolution - but also about systematic deform of methods of contemporary science. It's undoubtedly the most "creationist" article which emerged in top impacted journal during last fifty or maybe seventy years.

As you can see, under Trump leadership even the scientists started to think more freely.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (5) May 03, 2018
It seems that the panspermia hypothesis is back in the game: new peer-reviewed study in Science journal explain Cambrian Explosion with it: "In our view the totality of the multifactorial data and critical analyses assembled by Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe and their many colleagues since the 1960s leads to a very plausible conclusion – life may have been seeded here on Earth by life-bearing comets as soon as conditions on Earth allowed it to flourish (about or just before 4.1 Billion years ago); and living organisms such as space-resistant and space-hardy bacteria, viruses, more complex eukaryotic cells, fertilised ova and seeds have been continuously delivered ever since to Earth so being one important driver of further terrestrial evolution which has resulted in considerable genetic diversity and which has led to the emergence of mankind."
That's interesting, but not sure what is has to do with humans arriving in the Americas about 4 billion years later.
mackita
1 / 5 (1) May 03, 2018
Don't worry, I'll add your name to the list next time...
Willis_Eschenbach
1 / 5 (4) May 03, 2018
I do love how they put "entered the Americas from Siberia" right next to "NATIVE Americans" ... talk about missing the point.

They are not "Native Americans", there are no humans native to the Americas. They are Early Asian Immigrants, as opposed to the Later Melanin-Deficient Immigrants ...

This is supposed to be science, so how about we tell the truth?

w.
jonesdave
3.8 / 5 (4) May 03, 2018
Article is open source and if you would find the time for its reading (which is particularly recommended just for traditional PhysOrg parrots like CaptainStumpy, Da Schneib, JonesDave or Antialias who use to downvote such an ideas the most), they could take a way wider memo from it, because it's not just about evolution - but also about systematic deform of methods of contemporary science. It's undoubtedly the most "creationist" article which emerged in top impacted journal during last fifty or maybe seventy years.

As you can see, under Trump leadership even the scientists started to think more freely.


Anybody got any idea what this loon is on about?
Cusco
not rated yet May 04, 2018
Bluefish Caves, Yukon Territory - 24,000 years BP
Mato Grosso, Brasil - 23,000 BP
Monte Verde, Chile - 18,500-30,000 BP
Huaca Prieta, Peru - 15,000 BP
Topper, South Carolina - ~50,000 BP
Cerutti Mastodon Site, California - 130,000 BP(!?!)

These are well-documented sites, there are others for which dating and identification are not so clear-cut but which are intriguing. In particular is a cave in Mato Grosso which appears to have a hearth with a very early date (38,000 BP if I remember correctly), but no human artifacts were discovered associated with it so it was never definitively identified as not-natural.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (2) May 05, 2018
Interesting, this puts a narrow estimate on the minimum population size. But if the migration was average, the actual size is a couple of times the breeding size (lack of descendants, inbreeding).

@WE: "Native Americans" is a social label and reflects the researched facts (or truth, as you label that) as is.
I can agree that the term is dated, especially when describing genetic flow of moving populations!
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2018
@Cusco:
Okey, but I can from top of my head (i.e. risking errors) note that the oldest Cerutti and Topper are not well-documented on humans respectively dating. In fact, I believe the Topper dating is now known to be wrong and much younger.

Bluefish Caves is correct, but belong to the part "entered the Americas from Siberia into what is now Alaska no earlier than 23,000 years ago" of the Beringian stand still in the article [ https://en.wikipe...sh_Caves ].

Santa Elina rock shelter (Matto Grosso) on the other hand is really interesting, after locating the article I recognized it [ http://ancientnew...n-paris/ ; https://www.cambr...BDFB928E ].
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2018
[ctd]

The current status of the Beringian standstill is that it may just have been part of the gene flow:

"Now, the oldest full genome to be sequenced from the Americas suggests that some settlers stayed in Beringia while another group headed south and formed the population from which all living Native Americans descend."

""Why did one group linger and thrive in Beringia while another took off to explore the Americas? A search for fresh resources could have spurred the migrants, Willerslev says, but so could sheer curiosity. "There were people who were happy with what they had, and there were others who looked out at the great ice caps and wanted to see what was on the other side," he says. [tbctd]
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2018
[ctd] That's a compelling speculation, Mulligan says. "Once they got into North America, they really high-tailed it through the continent and down into South America within just a few thousand years," she says. A cultural or genetic penchant for exploration "could help explain why they were in such a hurry.""
[ http://www.scienc...suggests ].

Reconciling the shelter dates - if they bear up, c.f. how the Flores cave dating was changed when they understood the local geology better, here the ash is unidentified and the ostracoderms may be old fossil when worked - with the genetic evidence will be an interesting task. I have not looked in the new paper if that is looked at.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (2) May 05, 2018
Anybody got any idea what this loon is on about?


Oh, glad you asked! In general terms, yes. It is correct as the apparently creationist,Trump thumping commenter notes that the paper, as well as many of its authors such as C Wickramasinghe those theories the paper generally lauds, is creationist. CW criticized evolution in the Arkansas creationist case. And the paper unwittingly borrows a graph showing many hundreds of billions of years on the left axis, as well as claiming standard phylogenies are wrong.

The paper should not have been published, even as a review, in Progress of Biophysics and Molecular Biology since it contains nothing acceptablein those areas. The review is stated as cherry picking instead of being an area review: "We review the salient evidence consistent with or predicted by the Hoyle-Wickramasinghe (H-W) thesis of Cometary (Cosmic) Biology."
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2018
But even so it seems like a journal Elsevier publish for money, the last issue has these titles:

"- Biogenic magnetic nanoparticles in human organs and tissues
- Forces maintaining the DNA double helix and its complexes with transcription factors
- The quantum physics of synaptic communication via the SNARE protein complex"!

The lead author is proposing Lamarckism since before and writes out of a charity [ https://www.cyovi...d-centre ], the second author is in fact at one of CW's own university affiliations [ https://www.bucki...rch/bcab ], et cetera. Capitalizing species and other names for no good reason, an "admittedly unusual, scientific writing style" (i.e. little to none). All appear crackpots by association.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2018
I believe the reviewers made the job for me, since the authors left in this quote:

"We certainly do not want this paper to read, as one reviewer has put it …

[b]" somewhat like a last-ditch and exasperated attempt to convince the main stream of the scientific community that in following neo-Darwinism they have gone seriously astray, because life has been carried to this planet from elsewhere in the universe on comets/meteorites and does not result from abiogenesis on Earth."[/b] "

[My bold.]

So the authors revised, and the editors unwisely accepted.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2018
On the general status of emergence of life, there is phylogenetic evidence that links it to half alive cells emerging in alkaline hydrothermal vents [ https://www.natur...l2016116 ]. That hypothesis was summarily not updated and fully reviewed by the paper consistent with its stated cherry picking:

"These ideas should of course have been critically examined and rejected after the discovery of the exceedingly complex molecular structures involved in proteins and in DNA. But this did not happen. Modern ideas of abiogenesis in hydrothermal vents or elsewhere on the primitive Earth have developed into sophisticated conjectures with little or no evidential support." ...
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2018
... "The recent report indicating evidence of microbial life in Canadian rocks that formed 4.1–4.23 billion years ago (Dodd et al., 2017), if accepted, makes it more difficult in our view to envisage the option of abiogenesis taking place anywhere on the Earth. The claim that these rocks may have been associated with hydrothermal vents still raises the question of how life could have originated in situ during the early Hadean epoch that was riddled with frequent and violent collisions by asteroids and comets. Rather we think it more reasonable to suggest that the particular evidence of microbial life in the Canadian rocks was delivered by cometary bolides, only to be instantly destroyed or carbonised on impact."

Still looks "somewhat like a last-ditch and exasperated attempt to convince" from a basis of no contrary - to current science - data. Worse, the incoming data rejects possible creationist ideas based on speculations in non-indigenous emergence of life.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
not rated yet May 05, 2018
Ouch, I failed the bolding, too many comments to do.

Oh well, I can as well add that the Late Heavy Bombardment the review seems to refer to is in tension with statistical procedures (the impact spike may be an artifact) as well as other impact data (shows no spike or even increase compared to today's impact flow). So an open question - but not suggesting life delivery as more reasonable than in situ emergence.

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