The genetic prehistory of the New World Arctic

Science. 2014 Aug 29;345(6200):1255832. doi: 10.1126/science.1255832.


The New World Arctic, the last region of the Americas to be populated by humans, has a relatively well-researched archaeology, but an understanding of its genetic history is lacking. We present genome-wide sequence data from ancient and present-day humans from Greenland, Arctic Canada, Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Siberia. We show that Paleo-Eskimos (~3000 BCE to 1300 CE) represent a migration pulse into the Americas independent of both Native American and Inuit expansions. Furthermore, the genetic continuity characterizing the Paleo-Eskimo period was interrupted by the arrival of a new population, representing the ancestors of present-day Inuit, with evidence of past gene flow between these lineages. Despite periodic abandonment of major Arctic regions, a single Paleo-Eskimo metapopulation likely survived in near-isolation for more than 4000 years, only to vanish around 700 years ago.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alaska / ethnology
  • Arctic Regions / ethnology
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone and Bones
  • Canada / ethnology
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Greenland / ethnology
  • Hair
  • History, Ancient
  • Human Migration*
  • Humans
  • Inuit / ethnology
  • Inuit / genetics*
  • Inuit / history
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Siberia / ethnology
  • Survivors / history
  • Tooth


  • DNA, Mitochondrial

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE59546