Native Americans May Have Asian Ancestral Roots

Mitochondrial DNA connects Native Americans to both China and Japan. There is evidence of at least two migrations between the Americas and Asia during the last Ice Age following a melt period, according to molecular anthropologists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

What to Know

  • Analysis of Native American mitochondrial DNA shows that in addition to previously described ancestral sources in Siberia, Australo-Melanesia, and Southeast Asia, the Native American gene pool has DNA from northern coastal China and Japan.

  • The same ancestral sources for Native Americans also contributed to the Japanese gene pool, especially the indigenous Ainu peoples.

  • There is evidence of two ancient migrations between the Americas, China, and Japan along Asia’s Pacific coast, rather than the Bering Land Bridge that connected Siberia and Alaska during the last Ice Age, as has been hypothesized.

  • In addition to genetics, similarly crafted arrowheads, spears, and tools offer evidence that the paleolithic peoples of China and Japan traveled across the northern rim of the Pacific Ocean until they reached the northwest coast of North America from 19,500 to 26,000 years ago.

  • The second migration took place between 19,000 and 11,500 years ago as the human population in the world expanded and searched for better climactic conditions.

This is a summary of the article, “Mitogenome Evidence Shows Two Radiation Events and Dispersals of Matrilineal Ancestry From Northern Coastal China to the Americas and Japan,” published in Cell Reports on May 9, 2023. The full article can be found on

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