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High Alt Med Biol. 2001 Summer;2(2):227-33.

Origin and evolutionary relationships of native Andean populations.

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  • 1Programa de Gen├ętica Humana, Instituto de Ciencias Biom├ędicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile. frothham@machi.med.uchile.cl


This paper represents an effort to explore the origin and the evolutionary relationships of native Andean populations using a multidisciplinary approach. Archeological and linguistic evidence is briefly reviewed. A genetic distance analysis among major linguistic groupings and among Andean and Amazonian native populations, together with information obtained from archaeological and linguistic sources was used to generate a migration model. It is suggested that in the late Pleistocene a group of nomadic hunters entered South America through the Isthmus of Panama and split afterwards into two groups, one moving southward into the central and south Andean areas and after crossing the Colombian, Equador and Peruvian highlands to people northwestern Argentina, the open park country of east Brazil and the Argentine Pampas. The second group migrated eastwards into Venezuela and Guyana and later southward, peopling the Brazilian Amazon. Following available waterways the Amazonian Indians expanded east and west arriving probably at the eastern slopes of the Andes some 3,500 years ago. It is hypothesized that present day Andean natives are descendants of the Amazonian groups that migrated eastwards.

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