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Am J Hum Biol. 2004 Jul-Aug;16(4):420-39.

Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome diversity and the peopling of the Americas: evolutionary and demographic evidence.

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Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


A number of important insights into the peopling of the New World have been gained through molecular genetic studies of Siberian and Native American populations. While there is no complete agreement on the interpretation of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome (NRY) data from these groups, several generalizations can be made. To begin with, the primary migration of ancestral Asians expanded from south-central Siberia into the New World and gave rise to ancestral Amerindians. The initial migration seems to have occurred between 20,000-15,000 calendar years before present (cal BP), i.e., before the emergence of Clovis lithic sites (13,350-12,895 cal BP) in North America. Because an interior route through northern North America was unavailable for human passage until 12,550 cal BP, after the last glacial maximum (LGM), these ancestral groups must have used a coastal route to reach South America by 14,675 cal BP, the date of the Monte Verde site in southern Chile. The initial migration appears to have brought mtDNA haplogroups A-D and NRY haplogroups P-M45a and Q-242/Q-M3 to the New World, with these genetic lineages becoming widespread in the Americas. A second expansion that perhaps coincided with the opening of the ice-free corridor probably brought mtDNA haplogroup X and NRY haplogroups P-M45b, C-M130, and R1a1-M17 to North and Central America. Finally, populations that formerly inhabited Beringia expanded into northern North America after the LGM, and gave rise to Eskimo-Aleuts and Na-Dené Indians.

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