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Genetic Study Finds Traces of Original Caribbean Inhabitants

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lesser Antilles ancestryPHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA—A team of scientists led by Theodore Schurr of the University of Pennsylvania has conducted a genetic study of people living in the Lesser Antilles in an effort to look for traces of the original inhabitants of the islands. They examined mitochondrial DNA, inherited through the maternal line; Y-chromosomes, passed from father to son; and autosomal markers, which give an overall picture of genetic contributions from ancestors through both sides of the family, from 88 individuals from the First Peoples Community in Trinidad and the Garifuna people in St. Vincent. “In the case of the mitochondrial DNA and the Y-chromosome, we know the markers that define those lineages commonly seen in indigenous populations of the Americas,” Schurr said in a press release. The team found 42 percent indigenous ancestry from the maternal side, and 28 percent from the paternal side. “These communities are not passive in this whole process; they’re actively exploring their own ancestry. They’re also trying to establish the fact that they have indigenous ancestry, that they are the descendants of the original inhabitants. They’re reclaiming that history,” Schurr added. To read about historical archaeology in the Caribbean, go to "Pirates of the Original Panama Canal."

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