A search for bear remains in Alaska led to an important discovery about human origins
Researchers have found a bear bone in Alaska that they thought belonged to one of the region’s first humans. Research shows that this is closely related to current residents.
The first people to settle in the Americas came from Siberia and migrated through the Bering Strait to Alaska 20,000 years ago, when there was still land. Now it is a strait more than 80 kilometers wide between the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean that separates Asia and North America.
But then man could easily cross to the north of America. However, the adventurers did not stop there. Some hiked to the southern tip of South America. Others stayed close to where they came from and their descendants still live there today.
Analysis of genetic data shows that some of Alaska’s original inhabitants are still living in the same places their ancestors lived 3,000 years ago.
Not a bear, but a man
During her extensive research in Alaska, evolutionary biologist Charlotte Lindquist discovered the remains of a mammal in a cave on the southeast coast. One particular bone was originally determined to be from a bear, but genetic analysis now shows it belongs to a human female.
“We realized that modern Alaskan indigenous peoples could be related to this prehistoric man, if they had stayed in the region since the earliest migrations,” said researcher Albert Akil. Using DNA analysis Researchers hoped to solve the mystery.
The first humans moved south along the northwest coast before an inland route appeared between the ice shelves. Some, including the woman in the cave, remain in the Gulf of Alaska. The Tlingit tribe and three groups, the Haida, Tsimshian and Niska, now live exclusively there.
Yes, the woman in the cave has become closely related to the tribes that now live in Alaska. This was revealed by genetic analysis of this 3,000-year-old bone. “Research that wouldn’t have been possible twenty years ago,” says Lindqvist. Researchers have now been able to pinpoint the prehistoric woman’s genetic connections to Native Americans. Then the girl Tatook yík yées shaawat Baptism, or “The Young Woman in the Cave.”
It is important to work with indigenous people and other scientists who have found remains in the area to determine which group the woman in the cave was most closely related to. For example, Lindqvist and colleagues found that the Tlingit people and the tribes living near them on the coast were very closely related. Tatook yík yées shaawat. The study supports the idea that genetic continuity has persisted for thousands of years in Southeast Alaska.
The Inside out
As mentioned, people first moved to North America about 20,000 years ago, but the migration went in waves. The second wave occurred about 6,000 years ago. Later called Paleo-Inuit, formerly Paleo-Eskimos. But the woman in the cave had nothing to do with it. For example, Lindqvist’s research sheds light on the migration from Asia to North America and the debate over which route the first people took. People from different waves of immigration apparently never mixed.
In ancient Tlingit origin stories, the Edgcumbe eruption plays an important role. That means they settled in the area 4,500 years ago. their relative Tatook yík yées shaawat So the Tlingits also learn something about their origins. Researchers are happy with this. “It’s great to contribute to our knowledge of Southeast Alaska’s prehistory,” says Akil.
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