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WSU geneticist helps solve mystery of Arctic peoples

Omar Cornejo
Omar Cornejo

With help from a Washington State University population geneticist, Danish researchers have concluded that North America and the Arctic were settled in at least three pulses of migration from Siberia. First came the ancestors of today’s Native Americans, then Paleo-Eskimos – the first to settle in the Arctic – followed by the ancestors of today’s Inuit.

The research, published in the journal Science, settles nearly a century of debate over Arctic settlement and whether today’s Inuit are related to Paleo-Eskimos, who disappeared 700 years ago. That’s about the time the technologically superior Inuit reached Greenland, but the researchers could not tie the disappearance of the Paleo-Eskimos to the Inuit’s arrival.

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Ancient child’s genome sheds light on colonization

Omar E. Cornejo
Omar E. Cornejo

An international team including WSU assistant professor Omar E. Cornejo has mapped the genome of a child from the Clovis period, thereby reviving the scientific debate about the colonization of the Americas. Results published in the journal Nature show the child is a direct ancestor of roughly 80 percent of present day Native Americans.

“It is a very exciting article about an ancient human DNA genome that is helping us better understand the peopling of the Americas,” said Cornejo.

Read more at WSU News and Nature