Agence France-Presse

Native Americans arrived in three waves, DNA study reveals

A new global research study has found that Native Americans came to the New World in three separate waves.

More than 15,000 years ago the first wave of Native Americans made their way to the Americas via a land bridge connecting Russia and Alaska, according to new research published in journal Nature. 

There would be at least two more waves to follow. 

"Our study makes clear that mixing of these three ancient populations is the story of Native American arrival," geneticist David Reich of Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study, told USA Today.

Reich and a team of researchers created a genetic map that proved that Native Americans did not come as one solid group, but instead came in smaller tribes and fanned out from North America to South America. 

Reich, along with a team of 60 experts, analyzed the genetic data of more than 500 individuals from 52 Native American and 17 Siberian groups, looking for similarities and differences, the AFP reported. 

The group found that there is more genetic diversity in those living in South America, while Native Americans living in North America have more heterogeneous genetics. Andres Ruiz-Linares, a human geneticist at University College London's department of genetics, explained to AFP that this means the earliest wave of of Native Americans headed south. 

"One of the main results is that natives from the northern parts of the continent would have a more recent Siberian ancestry than other people from the continent, as they mixed with the newcomers. Native Americans from the lower parts of North America all the way down to Tierra el Fuego originate from the really first settlers of the continent," Ruiz-Linares, told AFP.

The research took an enormous amount of cooperation between researchers from both North and South America, along with a group from Europe to complete, reported. 

Reich told the research is important because, "We developed a method to peel back this mixture to learn about the relationships among Native Americans before Europeans and Africans arrived, allowing us to study the history of many more Native American populations than we couldn't have done otherwise."

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