There’s a new report out on ancient DNA results from Alaska.

It seems that the individual they studied (from about 11k years ago) is from a group of Beringians that never migrated south of the glaciers. Willerslev says: ” It’s basically a relict population of an ancestral group which was common to all Native Americans”.

The kid was equally related to the two main groups of Amerindians, north and south. Some tribes in North America, like the Algonquins, are in the northern groups, while some North American Amerindians and all those in Central and South America fall into the southern group

You may be wondering about Aleuts, Eskimos, and Athabascans/Na-Dene speakers, particularly if you just read Carl Zimmer’s article in the NYTimes. Don’t. They’re from later migrations -a separate story. Let’s keep it as simple as possible.

Here’s Willerslev’s model:

From their data and analysis, the researchers think that the northern and southern branches of the Amerindians split around 15k years ago in a region south of eastern Beringia – already past the ice.

One very important point, naturally mentioned in none of the press accounts, is what they didn’t see: the Alaskan kid didn’t have any of the Australo-Melanesian, Andamanese-like component that exists in Amazonian Indians today. The Clovis-complex Anzick-1 skeleton from Montana, about 12.6k years old, was a member of the southern Amerindian branch – but it didn’t have any Andamanese-like component either.

So we’re saying that a Beringian population, pretty close to the common ancestors of the Northern and Southern Amerindians branches, didn’t have the Andaman-like admixture.

The Northern branch doesn’t seem to have it today.

Only some members of the Southern branch have it today: the earliest known sample from the southern population doesn’t have it.

Therefore the Southern branch (some of them) very likely picked it up after they left Beringia, also after they split with the northern branch. Which means it was already there before the Amerindians came down from Beringia. Probably in Brazil.

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94 Responses to Beringians

  1. dearieme says:

    “Which means it was already there before the Amerindians came down from Beringia. Probably in Brazil.” And how and when did they get there, oh wise one?

  2. epoch2013 says:

    There were two groups independently working that found Andaman admixture in modern American Indian populations in 2015. IIRC the paper published in Science by Raghavan, and co-authored by Willerslev, favoured a later migration. They did sample some samples of extinct Brazilian Indians with skull types pointing to different origins but that turned up nothing unusual.

    “The Science results also counter the Paleoamerican model. When the team sequenced the DNA of 17 individuals from the extinct South American populations with the distinctive skulls, they found no trace of Australo-Melanesian ancestry. “The analysis refutes a very simplistic view of [skull] variation,” comments anthropologist Rolando Gonzalez-Jose of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council in Puerto Madryn, Argentina.”

    That paper also found that Aleutian Islanders had similar Andaman admixture. I think the latter, combined with this paper showing originally there was no Andaman admixture, makes the case for a later migration as proposed by Raghavan rather than supporting the Skoglund model. Considering that Tianyuan also showed the some admixture with South American Indians things get interesting.

    “We found that some American populations, including the Aleutian Islanders, Surui, and Athabascans are closer to Australo-Melanesians compared to other Native Americans, such as North American Ojibwa, Cree and Algonquin, and the South American Purepecha, Arhuaco and Wayuu.”

    “The study indicates that about nine to 15 percent of the DNA of the Karitiana and Sururi peoples of Brazil and the Chane people of northern Argentina and southern Bolivia came from an ancestor also shared by Tianyuan Man, making them distant cousins. But this ancestor was not common to Native Americans living in North America, thus suggesting there were two different source populations for Native Americans.”

    • epoch2013 says:

      Sorry, the extinct samples that were checked weren’t Brazilian but Pericúes from Mexico and Fuego-Patagonians from Chile and Argentina.

      • Thersites says:

        How easy is it to get adequately large sample sizes from Fuego-Patagonians? They were never greatly numerous, and the 19th century was not kind to them, either. If not for Julius Popper, imagine what genetic secrets we might have learnt from the descendants of twelve-foot-tall frostbite-proof giants.

    • gcochran9 says:

      The Science paper found some of the funny admixture in some populations in North America, but the other paper did not – only in South America. They can’t both be right. I have some reasons to think that the second paper was correct.

      • epoch2013 says:

        The Raghavan paper only found it in Athabascan. The Nature paper checked it, same samples. It certainly is not conclusive evidence for “funny admixture”, but hints at “something”, i.e. a greater affinity towards Siberians than other Indians.

        SI: Comparison with the Athabascan Dakelh

    • Skull Shapes says:

      They were actually unable to replicate the finding of distinct paleo-American / paleo-Indian like skulls for the Lagoa Santa / Pericues skulls, which clustered most closely with Africa / Australia outside the Americans. Sensitive to choice of variables and comparison populations.

      However, note as well, that the closest populations outside each other and the Americans were Ainu / Atayal :

      Still, overall, if there is a distinct paleoamerican genetic type, the “funny shaped skulls” don’t have it and are probably less different in shape from East Asians and other Native Americans than Hubbe thought.

  3. Janet says:

    This isn’t my area, so pardon me if this is an obvious question, but: wouldn’t an alternate explanation for these genetic traits be that Polynesians successfully crossed the last segment of the Pacific Ocean (from Rapa Nui to the Chilean/Peruvian coast)– possibly in a one-way trip? Since they definitely did get as far as Rapa Nui, it seems plausible that they could cross the last segment too. The timeline would then have been roughly 700-1000 AD, which would explain why these genes are only found in parts of South America.

    Presumably, there would have been a period of contact, say a few hundred years long, but then this contact was cut off due to the loss of coconut groves (for boat building) and population crashes/extinction on Rapa Nui and Pitcairn Islands, plus societal changes in other Polynesian societies which ended the age of expansion for them.

    • gcochran9 says:

      The mix is old, while Polynesian settlement of the Pacific is pretty recent. Moreover, when you see which existing population is closest to this funny genetic trace, it isn’t the Polynesians – instead, inhabitants of the Andaman Islands.

    • dearieme says:

      The spread of the sweet potato through Polynesia is usually taken as evidence that Easter Islanders landed in Chile. But that was many thousands of years too late to be relevant here.

    • bbartlog says:

      Not Polynesians per se – that’s kind of a recent thing. But we do have evidence of deep sea fishing from 42kya in Australasia. Many thousands of years for some of the menehune or whatever ancient and nameless race to find there way to distant shores.

    • ohwilleke says:

      There is pretty definitive evidence of pre-Columbian Polynesian contact with the Pacific coast of South America, but Polynesian ancestry is genetically very distinctive (due to multiple founder effect bottlenecks) and the Andaman-like ancestry seen in the interior South Americans definitely isn’t Polynesian.

    • Kosher Kowboy says:

      There’s genetic evidence that Polynesian Easter Islanders made it to the west coast of South America (and back).

      Genome-wide Ancestry Patterns in Rapanui Suggest Pre-European Admixture with Native Americans

      I’m assuming gcochran9 has discussed this paper; maybe somebody can link to the specific blog post.

  4. dave chamberlin says:

    The genetic evidence paints a pretty clear picture that a population descended from (as close as we can tell today) Andaman Islanders got to South America before the population descended from Beringia got there.

    What the genetic evidence also clearly implies but academics will keep their mouths shut about is the Beringia horde kicked their ass. It makes perfect sense that a population with no serious genetic bottle necks that learned to survive in the incredibly harsh environment of Alaska/ Siberia in the last ice age would kick the ass of a population that got here in incredibly small numbers from tropical islands.

    But the Voldemortian Academic Oath cannot be broken. No mention of one population being superior to another can ever be mentioned. There is a ton of genetic evidence of one population virtually replacing another, just go back and read old West Hunter posts if you want to find it. But mums the word if you are dependent on part of your income from a university or grants, which 99% of the experts in this field are.

    • gcochran9 says:

      If the pseudo-Andamanese were originally fishermen + beach combers, it would taken some time to become really proficient big-game hunters. In the same way, we know that the original colonizers had some marine skills (since they visited the Channel islands off Santa Barbara), but they lost those skills crossing the continent, and it was a long time, thousands of years, before anyone colonized the islands of the Caribbean.

      On the other hand, someone out of Beringia would started out as an efficient big-game hunter, and those skills would also apply to the Most Dangerous Game.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        If the psuedo-Andamnese had the bad luck of arriving just a few thousand years before the Beringians rolled down from the north your scenario makes perfect sense. But nobody knows when the psuedo Andamanese got there. It would be nice to know but beach combers whose area of residence is now under two hundred feet of water leave few clues. The Andaman Islanders represent a truly ancient sub stratum of humanity. They could have arrived much earlier.

    • If its genetic bottleneck + diseases then it looks like it can fit into the Cathedral narrative.

    • dearieme says:

      “a population that got here in incredibly small numbers from tropical islands”: which islands? There’s not a trace of any earlier inhabitants in Polynesia (as I understand it).

      • DRA says:

        I once read a speculation that a smallish astroid hitting in the pacific could have scoured many of the low islands, and perhaps to lower elevations of volcanic islands, without having much effect on the world in general. I think that the writer speculated that perhaps populations from the Bismarck Archipelago could have spread further into the Pacific, before being brushed back.
        Maybe before the admixture with the folks from Taiwan arrived?
        The author was not focused on people, rather the article was about the possible results of impact events.

  5. jb says:

    I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that there could have been a human population in the Americas prior to the Amerindians that didn’t explode in population upon reaching the virgin New World. Wouldn’t they have been everywhere? Wouldn’t they have left traces everywhere? Why aren’t we finding 20,000 year old (or whatever) stone tools in Michigan and Virginia and Mexico and California and so on?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Still very cold in North America. Taiga down to the Gulf.

    • ohwilleke says:

      I agree. If there were an earlier modern human population in the Americas the archaeological and ecological traces would have stuck out like a sore thumb. There is no way we would have missed them.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Everybody assumes the population exploded once humans got to the Americas. It seems like common sense but the psuedo-Andamanese arrived to the west coast of South America in such small numbers that they could have been seriously handicapped by inbreeding. They had to have got here in tiny numbers. It is amazing they made it all the way across the Pacific ocean at all. Nobody knows what problems inbreeding caused for this small band of new settlers but there is still an erroneous assumption made it must have been just a few thousand years before the Beringians came down from the north because their population would have otherwise exploded. I don’t assume that. Small populations of very inbred humans could have beach combed along the west coast of South America for a very long time. Small inbred populations could have hung on a while before they died out in numerous locations. Weird stuff shows up now and then like a foot print, cut marks on a bone, or a carbon dated hunk of charcoal that have too old a date and are immediately dismissed.

      Since the Reich team from Harvard has decreed (they are kingly) that a population from down under did make it across the Pacific before the Beringians took over I would hope that folks that pride themselves as scientists would now not be completely closed minded to the possibility that humans got here to the Americas before whatever oldest date is now considered the oldest possible. Because it is very possible, dare I say probable, that small groups of highly inbred humans did make it here and leave scant evidence hither and yon of their passing. Who knows when but it pisses me off when others think they do know because they flat out don’t.

      • Paleo Hunter says:

        The fact that their genetic signatures are still around means that the pseudo-Andamanians must have SURVIVED, probably for tens of thousands of years, and their remote but direct descendants are STILL AROUND in Brazil and the Aleuts.

    • Leonard says:

      You seem to be assuming that this population had at least roughly the same general fitness and flexibility (mostly via intellectual capabilities) as other modern humans. But what if they didn’t?

  6. Do they estimate how large was the population which brought Ameridian component to Americas?

    • ohwilleke says:

      This study, with N=1 does not. Prior studies have estimated that the founding population of North and South America combined had a census population in the hundreds of people total. Much more of a bottleneck than, for example, the modern human Out of Africa Founding population.

      • ooh, just realized I intended to ask about pseudo-andamanese in SA founding pop

        • ohwilleke says:

          My scenario (a single canoe full of pseudo-andamanese that joins the SA founding population’s vanguard at the last minute) is based on the fact that you have less than 1% of extant SA ancestry that is pseudo-andamanese with a founding pop of SA total that would be in the low hundreds. You don’t lose distinctive DNA present at any meaningful frequency due to drift when you have a rapidly expanding population in virgin territory, you amplify it under those conditions immensely. You lose DNA due to drift when you have bottlenecks or stagnant population. But, any reasonably common distinctive DNA from a founding population that survived until today would be present in almost everyone alive in SA today after tens of thousands of years to be distributed within the population (which is also why N=1 for a whole genome is so much more informative than N=1 for a uniparental genetic trait).

          • poster says:

            We have examples of founding populations in Southern Africa who seemed to have completely disappeared in many areas once a technologically superior and presumably more numerous group rolled in. We know about them because of ancient DNA and because remnants remain in other parts of Southern Africa(areas where the technology of the replacers were not applicable), but we know the ancestors of these people inhabited much larger areas. We also have evidence that the founding populations of Europe were completely displaced. For that matter there is some suggestive evidence that people with a genetically similar background to Population Y inhabited much of East Asia, though today evidence of their presence in current populations is absent completely in Northeast Asia and is missing in much of Southeast Asia as well.

            I see no reason for dismissing the possibility that an earlier founding population of the Americas was wiped out except in refuge areas like the Amazon. There is lots of precedent for it, including the Spanish entrance into the Americas. How does your scenario do a better job of explaining why this DNA has only been definitively found in Amazonians, not other South Americans?

  7. poster says:

    If we’re lucky we will eventually find much older DNA in the Americas(other archaeological material would also be nice). We don’t really know anything about the people with the Andaman-like admixture, all we have is traces of their signature in some modern groups(or ancient groups outside of the Americas). For that matter we do not know anything about the people who left artifacts in Bluefish Caves. One thing all of the available evidence makes clear is that there were more than three migrations into the Americas.

    • epoch2013 says:

      It’s in Tianyuan. That is the 40.000 East-Asian that also shows strange affinity to a 37.000 year old European Aurignacian but not in any other Paleolithic European, including Magdalenians which are the descendants of that 37.000 year old Aurignacian.

  8. biz says:

    I just don’t understand how the Andaman-like population got to South America > 50,000 years ago?

    Was it island hopping across the vast Pacific, like the later Polynesians? That strains credulity. The Andaman Islanders upon European contact could barely even get from one of their islands to the next. And did they die out on Tahiti, Rapa Nui, etc, or were their descendents there and absorbed by the Polynesians when they arrived?

    Was it up through Siberia and then all the way down the kelp forest? If so, then why don’t they have a trace in North America? And what would make a kelp forest people want to trek over the Andes and not stay on the coast?


    • gcochran9 says:

      There’s no sign of any ancient populaion on Pacific islands. All fairly recent, carbon-dated.

      If they followed the kelp road around 20k years ago, North America was too cold, but South America was not.

      And then maybe something happened that’s beyond our imagination.

      • dearieme says:

        “And then maybe something happened that’s beyond our imagination.” Spaceships!!

        • Ursiform says:

          von Däniken …

        • gcochran9 says:

          Ah, but that is not beyond your imagination, or mine either.

          • dave chamberlin says:

            What genetics has discovered so far has been beyond anybodies imagination, why shouldn’t it continue. It can’t be any more far fetched than what we have already found. The living descendants of a finger bone found in a cave in Siberia are in the general area of Australia. The only direct descendants from the first farmers live in the highlands of Sardinia.
            My imagination thinks these first settlers of the Americas were flipping pigmies. Yep, once the big people got to an island where the pigmies were first the pigmies knew it was time to either move on or get exterminated. So they would build a huge raft, provision it with months of food and shove off. The real Christopher Columbus was a pigmy.
            Of course this probably didn’t happen but something that crazy did and we can’t imagine it.

            • dave chamberlin says:

              Correction: Not the only descendants of the first farmers, the purest descendants of the first farmers.

      • dearieme says:

        Just slightly seriously. The short route to Brazil is across the narrow bit of the South Atlantic. But how would Andaman Islanders get to the west coast of Africa? OK, suppose that some of the distinctive ancestors of the Andamanese lived in west Africa. How did they cross the Atlantic? Grasping at straws here.

        • dearieme says:

          Didn’t Sherlock Holmes cultivate views on this sort of thing?

        • Paul Bunyan says:

          How about a massive tsunami level event that flushed trees and mats of vegetation into the pacific/atlantic, much like 2004? A few children and adults that were flushed out could have clung to the trees and vegetation flushed into the ocean, somehow found water over the journey and then somehow met up over years in the Americas?
          How many are needed for a sustainable population? Say if 5 survived the journey maybe they could created a small very inbred population? Just a guess.

          • DRA says:

            Kinda stretches credulity… but I understand that that is exactly how the ancestors of new world monkeys arrived! (although the Atlantic was considerably narrower at the time.)

          • dearieme says:

            “flushed trees and mats of vegetation”: that’s a bit likelier than the “straws” in my joke, I’ll grant you.

      • Jim says:

        Of the remote islands of the Pacific Guam seems to have been the first to have been settled. People have been living there since 1000 BC.

      • I’m guessing they stuck to the coasts until they reached warmer climes to the south. If they were fisher/gatherer types they might never have gone far inland for a long time. Plus that’s all a couple hundred miles out to sea now. Adaman types got pushed to the edges nearly everywhere why not in south America.

      • bbartlog says:

        Maybe before the last glaciation then. You only have to go back 30,000 years for that and the technology to shore-hop existed at least locally.

      • ziel says:

        The very notion of the “Ice Age” is quite frankly beyond my imagination.

      • crew says:

        They discovered that all human groups are equally worthwhile and just as intelligent as each other, so they just stopped reproducing. Also, they couldn’t figure out indoor plumbing.

    • Jim says:


      • Philip Neal says:

        Tsunamis… von Daniken… teleportation. I do not claim to understand these things, but is it not slightly more plausible that the South Native Americans split from North Native Americans and Beringians in Eurasia before any of them got to Beringia? Genomics seems to be more accurate about the timing than the location of these events. How hard is the evidence that the split and subsequent admixture with an Austro-Melanesian population took place in the Americas?

  9. Steve Sailer says:

    Any possible relation between these extinct Beringians and the apparently extinct Dorset culture Arctic dwellers?

    • ohwilleke says:

      No. The Dorset have been determined to be genetically the same as other Paleo-Eskimos, who were late arrivals (but pre-Inuit). The Dorset culture was another phase of cultural development for the same Paleo-Eskimo people.

  10. ohwilleke says:

    A more likely scenario for Andaman-like ancestry is that a single canoe worth of people with that ancestry arrived in Beringia (perhaps by accident) and was adopted by a Beriginian band that ended up being at the vanguard of the Southern-bound group of people in the Southern Native American Founding Population and kept going until the ended up in the interior of South American following rivers to their sources and then making a short jaunt over a continental divide. If they were in the lead, they wouldn’t have admixed with groups behind them leaving their odd outlier in the middle of nowhere distribution. It would only take a number of individuals you could count on your fingers then to produce the genetic legacy you see today near highlands of the Amazon basin.

    • ohwilleke says:

      Also worth noting that the legendary history of the people with this Andaman-like ancestry includes a longstanding record of incest which is still practiced at low levels in modern populations (and these populations number in the tens of thousands all told assuming that neighboring populations not sampled are similar). This is consistent with a tiny founding population in the kind of scenario I suggest. It makes little sense for late comers to end up in one fairly small part of the interior of South America, but not its coasts and not other parts of the interior.

    • Yudi says:

      Until more data comes in, this is the scenario I’m going with, due to the Tianyuan finding. I’m perfectly okay with it ending up being a separate population that went all the way down to South America, though.

      This seems to be the last great mystery involving Native American DNA and the manner of their settling the Americas. Genetics has got a lot of other controversies figured out now (Clovis-first has been blown out of the water).

  11. Crosbie says:

    Yes, it seems much easier for a canoe full of Andaman to interbreed with an existing population than it would be to transport an entire viable founding population from scratch. With a foothold established, being warm-adapted they presumably had an advantage near the equator over purebred Beringians.

    • gcochran9 says:

      It’s thousands of times less likely. I shouldn’t have to explain why.

      • tautology says:

        Because the population of a canoe is thousands of times less than the population of stone age brazil, the number of potential sexual encounters are much by a factor of thousands? Hence the hypothesis where brazil is allready settled makes admixture much more likely than a one off canoe. Is that the reasoning?

        • gcochran9 says:

          Getting there. One canoe-load of people can make a huge difference if it arrives early and has time for exponential growth. It can also make a big difference in ancestry percentage if it arrives while the major population is small – but that’s a narrow time window, because the Amerindian population is growing rapidly after it gets south of the ice. it didn’t stay small for long.

          Not just fast-growing from sheer logic: evidence from mitochondrial genetics. Probably also a narrow space window – you would have to land in just the right place.

          But if you land any time much before the Beringian breakout ( around 15k years ago) – say anything more than a thousand years earlier – and anywhere at all on the west coast of South America – you can build up a fair-sized population in the more habitable parts of South America, prep for the Amerindians coming down, defeating and mostly replacing you. Why not in North America? Too glacial.

          Again, no sign this happened back in Berengia. On the contrary. Doesn’t look as if it happened early in the Southern clade of Amerindians – Clovis didn’t have it. But that means it didn’t happen when the Amerindian population was small…

          Next, early colonization explains funny-looking old skeletons in Brazil, while one late boat load does not.

          • epoch2013 says:

            But the Science study did sample funny-looking skull types and came up with just normal Indian DNA. Not the Brazilian – I confused them – but still funny-looking.

          • ohwilleke says:

            Clovis aren’t part of the Southern clade. They started on the Atlantic Coast and worked their way west.

            • gcochran9 says:

              But they are: DNA from Anzick-1 skeleton. Even Wiki knows: “Anzick-1’s genome was closer to 44 Native American populations from Central and South America than with 7 Native American populations from North America; samples from North America were limited as tribes in the United States have been reluctant to participate.[1] “

          • ohwilleke says:

            Clovis aren’t part of the Southern clade. They started on the Atlantic Coast and worked their way west.

            I don’t disagree that it is a narrow time window. But, it isn’t a coincidental one. In Berginian stand still closed off access to the region from both Asia and North America. The same conditions that made it possible for Berginians to make it into the Americas also reopened access to Berginia from Northeast Asia by Asians. Beiringia is the natural place for a collision of Asian-like people and New World founders. There is no way that any Asian-like people reached South American other than via Beringia. They did not cross the Pacific Ocean directly. They did not cross the Atlantic Ocean. But, a canoe full of people in one little band of Berginians (and certainly the new study establishes that not all Beriginians migrated away) would leave almost no trace if they arrived in the right narrow time window.

          • Paleo Hunter says:

            QUOTE: Again, no sign [admixture] happened back in Berengia.

            Actually, the Andaman-like genetic signature was also found in the ALEUTS. Perhaps an early group of marine-adapted Andamanoids – probably fleeing pressure from other groups – made it to the Aleuts. Some of them settled there (and elsewhere along the North American coast) while pioneering “voortrekker” Andamanoids kept going until they reached South America. In SA, they flourished for a while before later Amerind waves caught up with them.

            Any Andamanoids left in North America later succumbed to the Ice Age. (BTW where was the coast line, e.g. 45,000 years ago?)

            Meanwhile, marine adapted Andamanoids in the Aleuts (and beyond along the North American coast) either became cold-adapted, or merged with an early wave of proto-Amerind or proto-Eskimo hunters from Siberia who were more adapted to cold continental winters, genetically and culturally.

            Subsequent waves of immigration from Siberia produced the later Aleutian population with a substrate Andamanoid signature. (N.B.: current Aleutians and Yupik are NOT “Inuit.”)

            • gcochran9 says:

              Not found in Aleuts in the paper I think is more accurate.

            • Paleo Hunter says:

              P.S.: The longest island-hopping span across the Aleuts from Siberia is about 225 miles at current sea levels. On a calm day, this is quite feasible to paddle over a few days in a well-provisioned raft. By definition, we are talking about a marine-adapted population.

    • epoch2013 says:

      Tianyuan has that admixture too. And that sample is 40.000 years old, and lived at similar altitude as Japan. Back then a pretty cold area.

  12. dlr says:

    In the middle of an ice age, there are probably a lot more islands above sea level to go island hopping on…

    • dearieme says:

      On Continental Shelves, yes. In the deep ocean: perhaps not enough more to matter?

      • Jim says:

        There are a very large number of undersea mountains even in deep water. In 1973 a merchant ship in the Indian Ocean traveling in water that was supposed to be 5,000 meters deep collided with a previously unknown underwater mountain whose summit was about 16 meters below the surface. This mountain is probably higher than any mountain in the Alps or Rockies but it’s existence had been completely unknown prior to the collision.

        • dearieme says:

          Good Lord!

          Anyway, to pursue your point. Suppose sea level fell 400′. Those islands that still exist today might seem intimidatingly mountainous. The “new” islands might be more attractive spots for travellers to take a break, and of course on re-immersion all the evidence would vanish.

          But I find it awfully hard to suppose that this would matter a hoot in the deep ocean, either Atlantic or Pacific.

          • Jim says:

            Not much. In the Pacific Ocean off to the west of Mexico the ocean floor is very mountainous. There is one tiny isolated island – Clipperton Island. it’s only two square miles and uninhabited. At least one of the mountains has a summit about 60 feet below the ocean surface.

          • Jim says:

            New islands would probably have fewer resources than older islands.

      • Jim says:

        During the last Ice Age I believe the sea level got to about 400 feet below the present level. Probably not enough to have a really big impact on the number of islands.

        • Jim says:

          While the number of islands may not have been much greater any settlements near the then seacoasts of these islands may have been since flooded by up to 400 feet of water.

  13. ghazisiz says:

    I read Heyerdahl in my late teens, before the anthropologists turned against him. I remember that he argued for three waves of settlers in the Pacific: first a Negrito type, then–perhaps overlapping–a red-haired Caucasian type, and a Polynesian/Amerind type. Heyerdahl was not a fool, and would not have argued for an early Negrito population if there were no evidence. So probably out there, should one care to look, is some evidence of early Andaman types in the Pacific.

    • gcochran9 says:

      He sure was a fool.

      Nobody got out to the real Pacific islands (farther than the Solomons) before the Polynesians. Almost every island had a species of flightless rail: they all went extinct when the Polynesians showed up. Even Pygmy Negritos can beat and eat a little flightless bird: if they had been there earlier, the rails would have gone extinct earlier.

      No menehunes for you!

      • Jim says:

        The first remote island of the Pacific to be settled was Guam which was settled by people from the Philippines about 1000 BC. Yap and Palau were also settled from the Philippines but considerably later although they are much closer to the Philippines. People moved up the Marianas very quickly after Guam was settled which is not surprising since the islands are not terribly far apart. However once they got to the Northern Marianas they never crossed the gap to the Volcano Islands although geologically the Volcano Islands are part of the same mountain range as the Marianas. The mountain tops between the Northern Marianas and the Volcano Islands are all underwater.

        Although the Marianas, Yap and Palau were settled from the Philippines in Southern Micronesia there is a curious pattern of the oldest archaeological sites increasing in age from the west to the east suggesting settlement coming from Melanesia.

  14. Pingback: Saturday Links 06-Jan-2018 | Praxtime by Nathan Taylor

  15. spook says:

    Greg the spook 🙂

  16. dearieme says:

    “then–perhaps overlapping–a red-haired Caucasian type”: someone really ought to write a history of all the bogus red-haired Caucasians who have been hypothesised as charging around the world, a-conquering and a-settling.

    • Paleo Hunter says:

      We call them Denisovans. Their signature in Papua New Guinea and Melanesia remains stronger than anywhere else.

  17. Matt Parrott says:

    I think people struggle with scale a bit here when thinking about population migration.

    When you’re talking about beachcombers, whose niche is literally walking in a straight line along the coast, …it’s quite plausible that the “pseudo-andamans” reached the Americas first, and rang the bell in Tierra Del Fuego within a few generations. Couple that with the sea level rising and what little anthropological evidence of this migration existing is likely sleeping with the fishes off the coast.

    Shifting to a different niche and lifestyle (venturing inland, where the scary animals are) isn’t something that mammals do on a whim. It would be interesting to note how long inland big game animals survived in Australia and New Guinea after arrival, as the situations seem similar. Perhaps they only diversify inland when they’ve exhausted their beaches and the aboriginal folks hadn’t arrived at that problem, yet.

    When Cro Magnon man found the New World, its aboriginal inhabitants were probably just yet another sampler in a smorgasbord of big, delicious, and dumb game for them to hunt into rapid extinction, …with just enough rape going on to be detected in small traces in modern samples.

    Heavy on speculation, of course. But pseudo-andamans and Cro Magnon are two very different types of human and I don’t see any reason to believe that the pseudo-andamans would automatically become inland big game hunters after crossing the land bridge just because that’s what we would do and what Clovis ‘n Pals did.

    • dearieme says:

      Which takes us back to the original point: why, specifically, Amazonian? Perhaps because it’s the least attractive part of South America for later settlers? How does that chime with recent claims that much of Amazonia was once not jungle but rather farmed land? Or are those claims baloney anyway? It’s all a great mystery – further evidence required.

  18. Pingback: Island demes in an empty world – Gene Expression

  19. Urisahatu says:

    Very interesting. The migrations of the first founding peoples into the Americas will probably stay a big mystery for decades to come.

    There is annother very interesting detail in an article on the Tianyuan man:
    Was this ancient person from China the offspring of modern humans and Neandertals? – By Ann Gibbons – October 12, 2017

    “But ancient DNA now reveals that the “Tianyuan Man” has only traces of Neandertal DNA and none detectable from another type of extinct human known as a Denisovan.”

    “The Tianyuan Man did not have any detectable DNA from Denisovans, an elusive cousin of Neandertals known only from their DNA extracted from a few teeth and small bones from a Siberian cave and from traces of their DNA that can still be found in people in Melanesia where they got it is a major mystery.”

    “But the Tianyuan Man is most closely related to living people in east Asia—including in China, Japan, and the Koreas—and in Southeast Asia, including Papua New Guinea and Australia.”

    “The Tianyuan Man also was a distant relative of Native Americans living today in the Amazon of South America, such as the Karitiana and Surui peoples of Brazil and the Chane people of northern Argentina and southern Bolivia. They inherited about 9% to 15% of their DNA from an ancestral population in Asia that also gave rise to the Tianyuan Man. But he is not an ancestor to ancient or living Native Americans in North America, which suggests there were two different source populations in Asia for Native Americans.
    This is welcome news to Skoglund, who found in a separate study in 2015 that the Karitiana and Surui peoples are closely related to indigenous Australians, New Guineans, and Andaman Islanders.”

    Although the Tianyuan man does not have detectable Denisovan dna, Tianyuan man is still related to living people in Papua New Guinea and Australia and furthermore the Karitiana and Surui peoples of Brazil inherited 9% to 15% of DNA from an ancestral population in Asia that also gave rise to the Tianyuan man.
    Mind that the Tiayuan man skeleton is 40,000 year old; The Australians and Papuans on the Sahul continent (Australia, Papua New Guinea and Tasmania) were isolated atleast 50,000 years if not more.
    This could mean that pre-Denisovan Papuans(+ Melanesians) and Australians either split off into a southern and northern direction before 50,000 years ago or populated the Sahul continent first before some migrated northwards into East Asia and mixed with a Neandertal population in East Asia which resulted in the birthing / rise of Tiayuan man.
    Later on Tiayuan man / people carrying pre-Denisovan Papuan /Australian DNA migrated into the Americas becoming the ancestors of the Karitiana and Surui people in Brazil.

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