- Tools used by the Jmon people of Japan match those found on Native American sites
- This prompted many archaeologists to propose that the first people came from Japan.
- Experts led by the University of Nevada-Reno studied data on thousands of teeth
- Their statistical analysis reported a ‘small association’ between the two groups.
- This finding was supported by a second analysis involving ancient genomes.
Contrary to popular theory, the ancestors of Native Americans did not originate in Japan, a study of 15,000-year-old human teeth and genetics has concluded.
Instead, the group was likely derived from populations in Siberia, a team of researchers led by the University of Nevada-Reno has announced.
It was these similarities in stone artifacts that led many archaeologists to believe that the first people of the Americas migrated from Japan about 15,000 years ago.
In particular, the tools used by the ‘Jmon’ hunter-gatherer-fishermen of Japan seem to match those found at ancient Native American archaeological sites.
Given this, researchers have proposed that Jomon spread along the North Rim of the Pacific and across the Bering Land Bridge to the northwestern coastline of the US.
An alternative theory published back in April suggested that the migration followed a route across the Bering Sea to a series of now submerged islands.
From there, the theory goes, the first people spread across the continent reached the southern part of South America within about two thousand years.
However, experts have now concluded that the genetic and skeletal evidence ‘simply do not match’ – and that the similarity in the tools was likely coincidental.
Contrary to popular theory, the ancestors of Native Americans did not originate in Japan, a study of 15,000-year-old human teeth and genetics has concluded. Image: Examples of teeth analyzed in the study, which included samples from the ancient ‘Jmon’ hunter-gatherer-fishermen people of Japan (top) and Native Americans (bottom). Arrows highlight marginal ridges that separate ‘shovel-shaped rodents’ that are more common in Native American populations
It was these similarities in stone artifacts that led many archaeologists to believe that the first people of the Americas migrated from Japan about 15,000 years ago. In particular, the tools used by the ‘Jmon’ hunter-gatherer-fishermen of Japan (B, D, E, I, J & K) were found at ancient Native American archaeological sites (A, C, F, G). – seem to be similar. & NS)
Researchers had proposed that Jomon spread across a land bridge along the North Rim of the Pacific and on the northwestern coast of the US over the Bering Strait (pictured) – a theory the latest study refutes. Instead, it is proposed that they came from Siberia.
First Arrival in North America
Back in September, archaeologists reported the discovery of footprints in New Mexico dating back about 23,000 years.
The team called the findings ‘conclusive evidence’ of people being in North America before the Last Glacial Maximum – the time when glaciers cut off access between the Americas and what is now Russia via the Bering Land Bridge.
However, it is unclear who exactly left the footprints and how they are related to the surviving Native Americans.
‘We found that human biology simply does not match the archaeological theory,’ said paper author and anthropologist Richard Scott of the University of Nevada, Reno, who specializes in the analysis of human teeth.
‘We do not dispute the idea that ancient Native Americans arrived via the Northwest Pacific coast—the only theory is that they originated with the Jmon people in Japan.
‘These people, who lived in Japan 15,000 years ago, are an unlikely source for Indigenous Americans. Neither skeletal biology or genetics indicate a connection between Japan and the Americas.
‘The most likely source of Native American population appears to be Siberia.’
In their study, Professor Scott and his colleagues performed a statistical analysis of the date on thousands of ancient teeth from the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
The team found little connection between the Jomon people of Japan and the Native Americans – only 7 percent of the Jomon tooth samples could be linked to earlier people.
This conclusion was supported by genetic analysis—which indicated little in the way of a relationship between the Jomon and the early Native Americans.
‘This is particularly evident in the distribution of maternal and paternal ancestry, which do not overlap between early Jomon and American populations,’ said paper author and anthropologist Dennis O’Rourke of the University of Kansas.
“Furthermore, recent studies of ancient DNA from Asia suggest that the two peoples diverged from a common ancestor long ago,” he said.
Professor Scott and his colleagues performed a statistical analysis of the date on thousands of ancient teeth from across the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. The team found little association between the Jomon people of Japan (top) and the Native American (bottom) – only 7 percent of the Jomon tooth samples were able to be associated with the first people.
The conclusion was supported by genetic analysis—which indicated little in the way of a relationship between the Jomon (IK002 in above) and the early Native Americans.
Professor Scott concluded, ‘Early Jomon populations represent one of the least likely sources for Native American peoples of any non-African population.
The researchers cautioned that their study was limited in how the only available teeth and ancient DNA samples for the Jomon date back to less than 10,000 years ago – and, therefore, do not predate the arrival of the first people in the Americas.
However, the team added, ‘We believe they are valid proxies for the initial Jomon population or those forming the stemmed point’ [a…