Saturday, 15 Mar, 2008 Science

Native Americans Descend from Six Mothers


DNA study revealed that almost all of today's Native Americans originated from six women whose offspring immigrated about 20,000 years ago.

The DNA of those six women passed on to almost 95 percent of Native Americans, the study published in the journal PLoS says.

The study suggests that those women lived between 18,000 and 21,000 years ago, but that doesn't indicate they all lived at the same time.

Ugo Perego, a co-author of the research together with his colleagues analyzed a history of DNA that is a small part of the human genetic material, revealing only some of person's ancestry.

The maternal lineage was traced with the help of mitochondria that is passed by mother and links a person to his or her mother, his grandmother and so on.

During the study scientists created a family tree and calculating the maternal origins by tracing mitochondrial DNA present in today's Native Americans. Taking into consideration different mutations and calculating how often these mutations happen, they concluded how old each branch was.

The six mothers are supposed to come from Beringia, the land bridge linked to North America that went under water. However, it is still unclear when the women lived, as mutation rates of mitochondrial DNA should be verified.

Further work may introduce some changes to the study of the place and the time where and when those women lived.

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