Genetic evidence for two founding populations of the Americas

Nature. 2015 Sep 3;525(7567):104-8. doi: 10.1038/nature14895. Epub 2015 Jul 21.


Genetic studies have consistently indicated a single common origin of Native American groups from Central and South America. However, some morphological studies have suggested a more complex picture, whereby the northeast Asian affinities of present-day Native Americans contrast with a distinctive morphology seen in some of the earliest American skeletons, which share traits with present-day Australasians (indigenous groups in Australia, Melanesia, and island Southeast Asia). Here we analyse genome-wide data to show that some Amazonian Native Americans descend partly from a Native American founding population that carried ancestry more closely related to indigenous Australians, New Guineans and Andaman Islanders than to any present-day Eurasians or Native Americans. This signature is not present to the same extent, or at all, in present-day Northern and Central Americans or in a ∼12,600-year-old Clovis-associated genome, suggesting a more diverse set of founding populations of the Americas than previously accepted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Australia / ethnology
  • Central America / ethnology
  • Gene Frequency / genetics
  • Genome, Human / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Indians, Central American / genetics*
  • Indians, North American / genetics
  • Indians, South American / genetics*
  • New Guinea / ethnology
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Phylogeography
  • South America / ethnology