A new study suggests that Native Americans may have originated from Southern China, based on the discovery and DNA analysis of 14,000-year-old human fossils.
The journal “Current Biology” published the study on July 14, which stated that the discovered fossils are thought to belong to an extinct maternal branch to which Native Americans are also possibly related.
Researchers compared the genome of the bones to people from around the world and came to the conclusion that they matched those of an individual deeply linked with East Asian ancestry.
Archaeologists had previously found fossils in China’s Yunnan Province three decades ago; however, it was not until 2018 that a team was able to extract DNA from the ancient skull and use genome sequencing to prove that the individual belonged to an extinct species of modern humans whose descendants were now in East Asia, the Indo-China peninsula and the Southeast Asian islands.
The same team proposed that some people from southern East Asia had traveled north along the coastline of present-day eastern China, went through Japan, reached up to Siberia, and then crossed the Bering Strait between the continents of Asia and North America.
While a previously discovered infant’s remains from an archaeological site in Alaska in 2013 proved that modern Native Americans came from Asia, the recent findings narrow down from which parts of Asia they may have originated.
Bing Su from the Kunming Institute of Zoology explained, “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.”