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Genetic Study Links Ancient DNA Back To Living Descendants

Posted by on July 12, 2013

Can you imagine if you could find out who your ancestors were 5,000 years ago. According to this article, the researchers were able to do that! An amazing new DNA study  found a direct genetic link between the ancient remains of Native Americans and their living relatives. Co-author and participant Joycelynn Mitchell said, “It is very exciting to be able to have scientific proof that corroborates what are ancestors have been telling us for generations. It is amazing how fast technology is moving to be able to prove this kind of link with our past.” In the study, Canadian researchers used mitochondrial genome sequencing to analyze DNA inherited exclusively through mothers because looking at this type of DNA is cheaper and easier to sequence than nuclear DNA.

Over 60 DNA samples were collected from living indigenous people belonging to Tsimshian, Haida, and Nisga’a tribes in the northern coast of British Columbia. The tribes’ oral histories and archaeological sites indicate that they have lived in the region for generations. That makes them good candidates. Complete mitogenomes were extracted from the remains of four Mid-Holocene individuals found in British Columbia’s Lucy Islands and Dodge Island, and then that information was compared to the DNA of the study participants. What were the results? One of the living individuals carried the same “mitogenomic signature” as a young adult female who lived on the island 2,500 years ago.

That also matched the mitogenome of the remains of a woman who lived in the Lucy Islands 5,500 years ago. Three other living participants had mitogenomes that linked back to the remains of another individual found on Dodge Island, who may have lived around 5,000 years ago. Everyone was really excited over the results. Dr. Ripan Malhi, an anthropology professor argued, “This is the beginning of a golden era for ancient DNA research because we can do so much now that we couldn’t do a few years ago because of advances in sequencing technologies.” That is fascinated indeed.


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