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Ancient Baby DNA Found in Montana Sheds Light on Earliest Americans

By Clyde Hughes   |   Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 11:33 AM

The ancient DNA of a baby boy buried in Montana has been recovered by archaeologists and gives new information about the spread of Native Americans in the New World 12,600 years ago.

Artifacts found next to the child showed that the boy was part of the Clovis culture, which existed in North America about 13,000 years ago and was named for a site near Clovis, N.M., according to The Associated Press. 

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Scientists performed DNA analysis on the new find and wrote about their observations in the journal Nature. Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, Michael Waters of Texas A&M University, and Shane Doyle of Montana State University in Bozeman participated in the research.

The DNA was found on the property of the parents of another study author, Sarah Anzick, of Livingston, Mont.

Doyle, a member of the Crow tribe, told the Daily Mail that the boy's remains will be reburied at the site by late spring or early summer, adding that the find shows how widespread the Native American culture was in the United States. 

"This discovery by Eske and his team proves something that tribal people have never doubted — we've been here since time immemorial and all the ancient artifacts located within our homelands are remnants from our direct ancestors," Doyle said.

"But the discovery is only part of the importance of this study. The other part being Eske and his team's respectful commitment to interacting face to face with tribal communities and listening to Native American leaders, which has led directly to the reburial of this little boy," Doyle added.

Researchers said that about 80 percent of all present-day Native Americans have roots tied directly to the descendants of the Clovis boy's family. Scientists believe that the other
20 percent are more closely connected with the Clovis family than any other people on Earth.

The boy was buried along with 125 artifacts, which include spear points and elk antler tools, according to The Associated Press. The artifacts and the skeleton were covered with powdered red ochre, a natural pigment that suggests there was a burial ceremony.

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