Late Pleistocene human skeleton and mtDNA link Paleoamericans and modern Native Americans

Science. 2014 May 16;344(6185):750-4. doi: 10.1126/science.1252619.


Because of differences in craniofacial morphology and dentition between the earliest American skeletons and modern Native Americans, separate origins have been postulated for them, despite genetic evidence to the contrary. We describe a near-complete human skeleton with an intact cranium and preserved DNA found with extinct fauna in a submerged cave on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. This skeleton dates to between 13,000 and 12,000 calendar years ago and has Paleoamerican craniofacial characteristics and a Beringian-derived mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup (D1). Thus, the differences between Paleoamericans and Native Americans probably resulted from in situ evolution rather than separate ancestry.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / genetics*
  • Mexico
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Paleontology
  • Radiometric Dating
  • Skeleton*
  • Skull / anatomy & histology


  • DNA, Mitochondrial

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KJ710435