Ancestors of Native Americans Came From Southern China
Native Americans' ancestors may have come from southern China, according to the genome of ancient human fossils from the late Pleistocene.
According to data reported in the journal Current Biology1, Native Americans may have descended from a hominin from an extinct branch of contemporary humans.
About thirty years ago, fossils were discovered in China's Yunnan Province's Maludong or Red Deer Cave by archaeologists. These fossils included a hominin skull cap that exhibited traits from both ancient and contemporary people.
The brain in this skull cap was smaller than those of modern humans, yet it resembled a Neanderthal's. Anthropologists assumed that either the person belonged to an archaic species of human or to a hybrid group made up of both archaic and contemporary humans as a result of this. The fossils came from the Pleistocene Epoch's Late Pleistocene epoch, some 14,000 years ago, according to carbon dating.
During this time, modern people had spread over the globe in a variety of different directions.
DNA was taken from the old skull by researchers Xueping Ji of the Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Bing Su of the Kunming Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his colleagues. Additionally, they sequenced the fossils' genomes. These fossils' genomes were compared to genomes from other individuals around the globe.
It was discovered that the bones belonged to a person who had close ties to Native Americans' East Asian origin. They demonstrate that human populations in southern East Asia during the Late Pleistocene were more genetically and morphologically diverse than those in northern East Asia during the same time. This discovery, together with other information, prompted the research team to postulate that some people from southern East Asia may have migrated north via the eastern China coast, past Japan, and eventually reached Siberia. Then, they went on to cross the Bering Strait, which separates Asia from North America, becoming the first humans to arrive in the New World. It also shows that some of the early humans who first made their way to eastern Asia first settled in the south before moving north.
Using fossils from southern East Asia, particularly those that predate the Red Deer Cave people, the team now intends to sequence more early human DNA. Bing Su of the Kunming Institute of Zoology says,
“Such data will not only help us paint a more complete picture of how our ancestors migrate but also contain important information about how humans change their physical appearance by adapting to local environments over time, such as the variations in skin color in response to changes in sunlight exposure.”
Xiaoming Zhang, Xueping Ji, Chunmei Li, Tingyu Yang, Jiahui Huang, Yinhui Zhao, Yun Wu, Shiwu Ma, Yuhong Pang, Yanyi Huang, Yaoxi He, Bing Su. A Late Pleistocene human genome from Southwest China. Current Biology, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.06.016