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Ancient DNA perspectives on American colonization and population history

Authors

  • Jennifer A. Raff,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
    2. Department of Medicine, Endocrinology Division, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
    • Department of Medicine Endocrinology Division, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago IL 606-3008
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    • Jennifer A. Raff and Deborah A. Bolnick contributed equally to this manuscript.

  • Deborah A. Bolnick,

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin, TX
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    • Jennifer A. Raff and Deborah A. Bolnick contributed equally to this manuscript.

  • Justin Tackney,

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
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  • Dennis H. O'Rourke

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
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Abstract

Ancient DNA (aDNA) analyses have proven to be important tools in understanding human population dispersals, settlement patterns, interactions between prehistoric populations, and the development of regional population histories. Here, we review the published results of sixty-three human populations from throughout the Americas and compare the levels of diversity and geographic patterns of variation in the ancient samples with contemporary genetic variation in the Americas in order to investigate the evolution of the Native American gene pool over time. Our analysis of mitochondrial haplogroup frequencies and prehistoric population genetic diversity presents a complex evolutionary picture. Although the broad genetic structure of American prehistoric populations appears to have been established relatively early, we nevertheless identify examples of genetic discontinuity over time in select regions. We discuss the implications this finding may have for our interpretation of the genetic evidence for the initial colonization of the Americas and its subsequent population history. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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