Links Found Between Native Americans and Northern Europeans

First Posted: Dec 01, 2012 02:58 AM EST

Based on genetic analyses, a new study conducted by a team of scientists has provided useful data in understanding both Native American and Northern European ancestry.

The latest discovery states that the North European populations that include British, Scandinavians, French and some Eastern Europeans basically descended from a group of ancestors related to Native Americans.

 According to Nick Patterson, first author of the report, "There is a genetic link between the paleolithic population of Europe and modern Native Americans. The evidence is that the population that crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia into the Americas more than 15,000 years ago was likely related to the ancient population of Europe."

 Patterson worked with Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics David Reich and other colleagues.

They noticed that one of these ancestral populations was the first farming population of Europe, whose DNA lives on till date in relatively unmixed form in Sardinians and the people of the Basque Country and in at least the Druze population in the Middle East. 

They also suggest that the other ancestral population is likely to have been the initial hunter-gathering people of Europe. Today the hunter-gathering ancestral population of Europe appears to have its closest affinity to people in far Northeastern Siberia and Native Americans.

Patterson has developed the statistical tools for analyzing population mixture.  These tools are the same ones used in previous discoveries showing that Indian populations are admixed between two highly diverged ancestral populations and that Neanderthals contributed one to four percent of the ancestry of present-day Europeans.

"The human genome holds numerous secrets. Not only does it unlock important clues to cure human disease, it also reveal clues to our prehistoric past," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS. "This relationship between humans separated by the Atlantic Ocean reveals surprising features of the migration patterns of our ancestors, and reinforces the truth that all humans are closely related."

This research was published in the November 2012 issue of the Genetics Society of America's journal Genetics.

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