Ancient DNA Sheds New Light on Arctic's Earliest People
First arrivals kept to themselves for thousands of years.
The earliest people in the North American Arctic remained isolated from others in the region for millennia before vanishing around 700 years ago, a new genetic analysis shows. The study, published online Thursday, also reveals that today's Inuit and Native Americans of the Arctic are genetically distinct from the region's first settlers.
Inuit hunters in the Canadian Arctic have long told stories about a mysterious ancient people known as the Tunit, who once inhabited the far north. Tunit men, they recalled, possessed powerful magic and were strong enough to crush the neck of a walrus and singlehandedly haul the massive carcass home over the ice. Yet the stories described the Tunit as a reticent people who kept to themselves, avoiding contact