- Human pathology

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Monday 14 May 2007

Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA were analyzed from 10,300-year-old human remains excavated from On Your Knees Cave on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska (Site 49-PET-408).

This individual’s mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) represents the founder haplotype of an additional subhaplogroup of haplogroup D that was brought to the Americas, demonstrating that widely held assumptions about the genetic composition of the earliest Americans are incorrect.

The amount of diversity that has accumulated in the subhaplogroup over the past 10,300 years suggests that previous calibrations of the mtDNA clock may have underestimated the rate of molecular evolution.

If substantiated, the dates of events based on these previous estimates are too old, which may explain the discordance between inferences based on genetic and archaeological evidence regarding the timing of the settlement of the Americas. In addition, this individual’s Y-chromosome belongs to haplogroup Q-M3*, placing a minimum date of 10,300 years ago for the emergence of this haplogroup.


- Kemp BM, Malhi RS, McDonough J, Bolnick DA, Eshleman JA, Rickards O, Martinez-Labarga C, Johnson JR, Lorenz JG, Dixon EJ, Fifield TE, Heaton TH, Worl R, Smith DG. Genetic analysis of early holocene skeletal remains from Alaska and its implications for the settlement of the Americas. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007 Apr;132(4):605-21. PMID: 17243155