Republication from University of Utah News

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Potter, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

This map shows the location of the Upward Sun River site in Alaska where the remains of two infants were found in an 11,500-year-old burial. A new University of Utah analysis shows the infants belong to two genetic groups or lineages known as B2 and C1. The maps shows other Native American groups throughout the Americas that are part of the same lineages.

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University of Utah scientists deciphered maternal genetic material from two babies buried together at an Alaskan campsite 11,500 years ago. They found the infants had different mothers and were the northernmost known kin to two lineages of Native Americans found farther south throughout North and South America.

By showing that both genetic lineages lived so far north so long ago, the study supports the “Beringian standstill model.” It says that Native Americans descended from people who migrated from Asia to Beringia – the vast Bering land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska – and then spent up to 10,000 years in Beringia before moving rapidly into the Americas beginning at least 15,000 years ago.

“These infants are the earliest human remains in northern North America, and they carry distinctly Native American lineages,” says University of Utah anthropology professor Dennis O’Rourke, senior author of the paper set for online publication the week of Oct. 26 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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