Ancient individuals from the North American Northwest Coast reveal 10,000 years of regional genetic continuity
Research paper by
John Lindo, Alessandro Achilli, Ugo A. Perego, David Archer, Cristina Valdiosera, Barbara Petzelt, Joycelynn Mitchell, Rosita Worl, E. James Dixon, Terence E. Fifield, Morten Rasmussen, Eske Willerslev, Jerome S. Cybulski, Brian M. Kemp, Michael DeGiorgio, Ripan S. Malhi
Recent genomic studies of both ancient and modern indigenous people of the Americas have shed light on the demographic processes
involved during the first peopling. The Pacific Northwest Coast proves an intriguing focus for these studies because of its
association with coastal migration models and genetic ancestral patterns that are difficult to reconcile with modern DNA alone.
Here, we report the low-coverage genome sequence of an ancient individual known as “Shuká Káa” (“Man Ahead of Us”) recovered from the On Your Knees Cave (OYKC) in southeastern Alaska (archaeological site 49-PET-408).
The human remains date to ∼10,300 calendar (cal) y B.P. We also analyze low-coverage genomes of three more recent individuals
from the nearby coast of British Columbia dating from ∼6,075 to 1,750 cal y B.P. From the resulting time series of genetic
data, we show that the Pacific Northwest Coast exhibits genetic continuity for at least the past 10,300 cal y B.P. We also
infer that population structure existed in the late Pleistocene of North America with Shuká Káa on a different ancestral line compared with other North American individuals from the late Pleistocene or early Holocene
(i.e., Anzick-1 and Kennewick Man). Despite regional shifts in mtDNA haplogroups, we conclude from individuals sampled through
time that people of the northern Northwest Coast belong to an early genetic lineage that may stem from a late Pleistocene
coastal migration into the Americas.