Sometimes science turns out as you’d expect. It’s not revolutionary, but it solidifies what should already be a solid foundation basis for extending knowledge into new territories. The latest ancient genome paper, The genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in western Montana, does just that. As the media has correctly pointed out this is probably the end of the Solutrean hypothesis, and a host of other exotic explanations for the ethnogenesis of Native Americans. Rather, the truth is what we’d always assumed. On the order of ~15,000 years ago a small group of Siberians crossed over Berengia into the New World. Their descendants are the various indigenous populations of the Americas which span the expanse from the Canadian Arctic down to Patagonia.
A reader did ask if this had any relevance for the thesis proposed in Reconstructing Native American History, that there was an initial “First American” migration wave, and later a Na-Dene incursion from Siberia (the distinct nature of Eskimo-Aleut populations seems clear). Though they were not particularly explicit about it, it seems that the authors of this paper accede that these results are consistent with the earlier model, insofar as their Clovis sample seems to exhibit a greater affinity with South American populations than nearby Canadian ones. Why? One explanation could be that some admixture occurred in much of North America after the Clovis due to the arrival of the Na-Dene.
The final point of interest, as pointed out by Dienekes, is that there’s still a lacunae of data from the United States. But then that’s a matter of politics. It seems unlike that other nations will fund research on our indigenous people, not to mention laws which put a damper on examination of Native American remains. But in the end it will only put off the inevitable. And what wonders if the authors had found out that the Clovis boy did not match modern Native Americans. They’d be famous, but surely they’d receive flack from many Natives.
Update: Pontus Skoglund corrected me on Twitter, and explained that it looks like the Clovis affinity to South Americans is due not to Na-Dene admixture, but structure among First Americans. That is, by the time of the Clovis period the First Americans had either diverged enough from each other to have discernible structure, or, they had manifested substructure within Beringia or migrated out in a few pulses.