• mitochondrial genome;
  • Native Americans;
  • mtDNA haplogroup C4c;
  • Paleo-Indian migrations


Recent analyses of mitochondrial genomes from Native Americans have brought the overall number of recognized maternal founding lineages from just four to a current count of 15. However, because of their relative low frequency, almost nothing is known for some of these lineages. This leaves a considerable void in understanding the events that led to the colonization of the Americas following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). In this study, we identified and completely sequenced 14 mitochondrial DNAs belonging to one extremely rare Native American lineage known as haplogroup C4c. Its age and geographical distribution raise the possibility that C4c marked the Paleo-Indian group(s) that entered North America from Beringia through the ice-free corridor between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets. The similarities in ages andgeographical distributions for C4c and the previously analyzed X2a lineage provide support to the scenario of a dual origin for Paleo-Indians. Taking into account that C4c is deeply rooted in the Asian portion of the mtDNA phylogeny and is indubitably of Asian origin, the finding that C4c and X2a are characterized by parallel genetic histories definitively dismisses the controversial hypothesis of an Atlantic glacial entry route into North America. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.