Ancient DNA reveals complex migrations of the first Americans

Newly sequenced Native genomes showcase a wealth of surprises, from previously unknown populations to unique high-altitude adaptations.

“Where do I come from?” That's perhaps one of the most fundamental questions for humanity. Now, three studies of ancient and modern human DNA are offering some intriguing answers by providing a detailed new look at the complex peopling of the Americas.

Once modern humans left Africa about 60,000 years ago, they swiftly expanded across six continents. Researchers can chart this epic migration in the DNA of people both alive and long-dead, but they were missing genetic data from South America, the last major stop on this human journey. The trio of new papers—published today in the journals Science, Cell, and Science Advances—dramatically increases the number of sequenced whole genomes from South America's indigenous peoples, both living and ancient.

“This

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