The peopling of the Americas has been examined on the continental level with the aid of SNP arrays, next generation sequencing, and advancements in ancient DNA, all of which have helped elucidate evolutionary histories. Regional paleogenomic studies, however, have received less attention and may reveal a more nuanced demographic history. We present genome-wide sequences of individuals from the northern Northwest Coast covering a timespan of ∼10,000 years and show that continental patterns of demography do not necessarily apply on the regional level. Compared with existing paleogenomic data, we show that geographically linked population samples from the Northwest Coast exhibit an early ancestral lineage and find that population structure existed among Native North American groups as early as the late Pleistocene.
Recent genomic studies of both ancient and modern indigenous people of the Americas have shed light on the demographic processes involved during the first peopling. The Pacific Northwest Coast proves an intriguing focus for these studies because of its association with coastal migration models and genetic ancestral patterns that are difficult to reconcile with modern DNA alone. Here, we report the low-coverage genome sequence of an ancient individual known as “Shuká Káa” (“Man Ahead of Us”) recovered from the On Your Knees Cave (OYKC) in southeastern Alaska (archaeological site 49-PET-408). The human remains date to ∼10,300 calendar (cal) y B.P. We also analyze low-coverage genomes of three more recent individuals from the nearby coast of British Columbia dating from ∼6,075 to 1,750 cal y B.P. From the resulting time series of genetic data, we show that the Pacific Northwest Coast exhibits genetic continuity for at least the past 10,300 cal y B.P. We also infer that population structure existed in the late Pleistocene of North America with Shuká Káa on a different ancestral line compared with other North American individuals from the late Pleistocene or early Holocene (i.e., Anzick-1 and Kennewick Man). Despite regional shifts in mtDNA haplogroups, we conclude from individuals sampled through time that people of the northern Northwest Coast belong to an early genetic lineage that may stem from a late Pleistocene coastal migration into the Americas.
- Lindo, J., Achilli, A., Perego, U., Archer, D., Valdiosera, C., Petzelt, B., Mitchell, J., Worl, R., Dixon, E.J., Fifield, T. and Rasmussen, M. (2017). Ancient individuals from the North American Northwest Coast reveal 10,000 years of regional genetic continuity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in press, in press.
Peoples: Native Americans | Places: Americas and North America | Topics: Anzick-1 and Kennewick | DNA Type: Ancient DNA, mtDNA, and Y-DNA