12,600-year-old Toddler’s Skeleton Proves First Americans were from Asia

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By Parismita Goswami | February 13, 2014 7:18 PM EST

The full genome analysis of the 12,600-year-old skeleton remains of a one-year-old toddler has proven that the first ever human settlers in North America were from Asia and not from Europe. Also, these groups are direct ancestors of modern Native Americans.

A team of international scientists worked on the research including Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of First Americans at Texas A&M University, who extracted the DNA from the bones and proved that the ancestors of the boy originated from Asia.

The skeleton remains were found in 1968 near a rock cliff in central Montana and scientists believe that the boy belonged to Clovis tribe. The land where the skeleton remains were found is known as Anzick, named after the family who owned that land.

It is the oldest such remains that was fully sequenced. Also, it is the oldest known human burial from North America and that of Clivis-era.

"We hope that this study leads to more cooperation between Native Americans and scientists. This is just one human genome. We need to know the genetic story of modern Native peoples and derive more genetic data from ancient remains to fully understand the origins and movements of the First Americans and their descendants," Waters said in a statement. 

The skeleton and burial artifacts were layered with red ochre, a type of mineral. Powdered form of the ochre was used in burial ceremony, which was often used as a pigment in burials during prehistoric times.

"The genetic information provided by the Anzick boy is also part of the larger story of modern humans. We know that modern humans originated in Africa and then around 50,000 years ago spread rapidly over Europe and Asia. The last continent explored and settled by modern humans were the Americas. In essence, the Anzick boy tells us about the epic journey of our species," he added.

The details of the findings have been published in Nature Journal.

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(Photo: Texas A&M University / )
The burial mound in Montana where the skeleton was found.
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