• ancient DNA;
  • Native American diversity;
  • RFLPs;
  • New World


Ancient DNA from the bone remains of 25 out of 28 pre-Columbian individuals from the Late Classic-Postclassic Maya site of Xcaret, Quintana Roo, was recovered, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was amplified by using the polymerase chain reaction. The presence of the four founding Amerindian mtDNA lineages was investigated by restriction analysis and by direct sequencing in selected individuals. The mtDNA lineages A, B, and C were found in this population. Eighty-four percent of the individuals were lineage A, whereas lineages B and C were present at low frequencies, 4% and 8%, respectively. Lineage D was absent from our sample. One individual did not possess any of the four lineages. Six skeletons out of 7 dated from the Late Classic period were haplotype A, whereas 11 skeletons out of 16 dated from the Postclassic period were also haplotype A.

The distribution of mtDNA lineages in the Xcaret population contrasts sharply with that found in ancient Maya from Copán, which lack lineages A and B. On the other hand, our results resemble more closely the frequencies of mtDNA lineages found in contemporary Maya from the Yucatán Peninsula and in other Native American contemporary populations of Mesoamerican origin. Am J Phys Anthropol 116:230–235, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.