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Scientists Analyze DNA of Canada’s Lost Beothuk People

Friday, October 13, 2017

ONTARIO, CANADA—The Globe and Mail reports that a team of researchers led by Hendrik Poinar and Ana Duggan of McMaster University has recovered mitochondrial DNA from the remains of 19 individuals who were members of Newfoundland’s Beothuk culture, which died out in the early nineteenth century. The team members also retrieved mitochondrial DNA from the remains of 53 Maritime Archaic people who lived in Newfoundland between 8,000 and 3,200 years ago. Samples from two Paleo-Eskimos, who spread to the island from the Arctic, were also analyzed. It had been previously thought that the Beothuk had descended from the Maritime Archaic people, but a comparison suggests the two groups were not closely related. “The island got populated twice—at least—by distinct groups,” Duggan said. Oral tradition suggests that some Beothuk fled Newfoundland after the arrival of Europeans. A chromosomal study could reveal whether any First Nation groups may be their descendants. For more on archaeology in Canada, go to “Standing Still in Beringia?

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