The tiny mountainous Altai region of southern Siberia may have been the genetic source of the earliest Native Americans, according to anthropologists at the University of Pennsylvania. Altai was the hub of migrating human traffic between Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan 20-25,000 years ago. They carried their Asian genetic lineages up into the far reaches of Siberia and eventually across the Beringian land bridge into the Americas.
The team assessed DNA samples from modern Altai inhabitants, as well as individuals in southern Siberia, Central Asia, Mongolia, East Asia and American indigenous groups. They found a unique mutation shared by Native Americans and southern Altaians in the Y chromosome haplogroup Q. Also, mitochondrial haplogroups C and D in southern Altaians look like some of the founder types that arose in North America. The team estimated that the southern Altaian lineage diverged genetically from the Native American lineage 13,000 to 14,000 years ago, which aligns with the possible movement of people from Siberia into the Americas between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago.
Though it’s probable that more than one wave of people crossed the Beringian land bridge, researchers have not yet identified a similar geographic focal point from which Native Americans can trace their heritage.
image – africanbiodiversity.org