viernes, 9 de diciembre de 2016

North America’s oldest mummy returned to US tribe after genome sequencing


Spirit Cave in Nevada, where archaeologists discovered ancient remains in 1940. Howard Goldbaum, allaroundnevada.com

DNA proves Native American roots of 10,600-year-old skeleton.

The sequencing of a 10,600-year-old genome has settled a lengthy legal dispute over who should own the oldest mummy in North America — and given scientists a rare insight into early inhabitants of the Americas.

The controversy centred on the ‘Spirit Cave Mummy’, a human skeleton unearthed in 1940 in northwest Nevada. The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe has long argued that it should be given the remains for reburial, whereas the US government opposed repatriation. Now, genetic analysis has proved that the skeleton is more closely related to contemporary Native Americans than to other global populations. The mummy was handed over to the tribe on 22 November.

A drawing of the remains of the 10,600-year-old "Spirit Cave Mummy" found in a rock shelter near Fallon, Nevada, in 1940. Photo: AP

The genome of the Spirit Cave Mummy is significant because it could help to reveal how ancient humans settled the Americas, says Jennifer Raff, an anthropological geneticist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. “It’s been a quest for a lot of geneticists to understand what the earliest peoples here looked like,” she says. [...] Nature News / Link 2