Archaeology Magazine

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European Genes Found in Boy From Palaeolithic Siberia

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Malta Boy DNA SequenceST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA—Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen has led the sequencing of the genome of the Mal’ta boy, who was buried in Siberia 24,000 years ago. His mitochondrial DNA belongs to haplogroup U, which is found in Europe and west Asia, and his nuclear DNA resembles that of Europeans. But the Mal’ta boy also carries signatures only seen in modern Native Americans. Willerslev thinks that sometime after the ancestors of Native Americans split from east Asians, they moved north, and eventually met the Mal’ta boy’s ancestors traveling east from western Eurasia. “We already had strong evidence of Siberian ancestry for Native Americans; this study is important because it helps us understand who the ancestors of those Siberians might have been,” added Jennifer Raff of the University of Texas at Austin.