A new analysis of DNA sequences showed that the population of Native Americans migrating from Siberia numbered about 250 people. Despite the numerous genetic studies that have helped to contribute to understanding how ancient people inhabited America, scientists have not reached a consensus on how many Native Americans were the original population.
A new study appeared in the journal Genetics and Molecular Biology and confirms the results of previous studies based on smaller sets of data.
“The transition from several hundred founders to the 40 million inhabitants of the Americas that eventually settled under different environmental conditions have adapted, it’s quite interesting,” says Michael Crawford, an anthropology professor at the University of Kansas. “It’s about understanding how evolution works in terms of genetic diversity.”
Scientists studied nine non-coding regions of DNA samples collected from the population that passed along the migration path. These are samples of people from China, ten Siberian groups and ten indigenous American populations scattered throughout Central and South America and representing several different tribes. Siberian samples were collected immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In a study of 2015, Crawford found that the ancestors of all modern Indians came to America from Siberia, or rather to Alaska, not earlier than 23,000 years ago. This main group was divided into Athabasca and Amerindians, having spent no more than 8,000 years isolated in Beringia – on the overland bridge that once connected Siberia with Alaska.
In the new study, scientists sequenced DNA samples and determined that the original indigenous population was about 250 people. The definition of this narrow genetic site in the American population is very important for characterizing the populations of Native Americans and assessing the adaptive potential of genetic variants in these populations.
Crawford says that these genetic data help draw a fascinating picture of how the ancient migration unfolded.