April 22, 2010
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36705709/ns ... rk_times//
SUPAI, Ariz. - Seven years ago, the Havasupai Indians, who live amid the turquoise waterfalls and red cliffs miles deep in the Grand Canyon, issued a “banishment order” to keep Arizona State University employees from setting foot on their reservation — an ancient punishment for what they regarded as a genetic-era betrayal.
Members of the tiny, isolated tribe had given DNA samples to university researchers starting in 1990, in the hope that they might provide genetic clues to the tribe’s devastating rate of diabetes. But they learned that their blood samples had been used to study many other things, including mental illness and theories of the tribe’s geographical origins that contradict their traditional stories.
The geneticist responsible for the research has said that she had obtained permission for wider-ranging genetic studies.
Did America's first migrants use boats?
New evidence challenges traditional theory of 'land bridge' from Asia
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES - In a discovery that sheds new light on the human conquest of the New World, a team of scientists says that bones from an ancient woman who lived on the Channel Islands off Ventura County in Southern California might be the oldest human remains ever found in North America.
The extraordinary discovery provides important clues to a critical yet mysterious period in human history - the end of the last major ice age - when nomadic people began populating the Americas, but left little evidence about who they were or where they came from.
The woman's bones, subjected to recent re-examination after spending the better part of four decades in storage, join a growing body of ancient skeletal remains that challenge traditional theories that the first visitors came to North America from northern Asia by way of a land bridge to Alaska. The new evidence suggests that the first settlers could have been Polynesians or southern Asians who arrived by boat.
The tests were performed by Stafford Research Laboratories in Boulder, Colo., one of the nation's pre-eminent carbon dating labs. The results showed that the bones are probably 13,000 years old, 1,400 years older than previously thought. That would make the so-called Arlington Springs woman slightly older than the oldest known human skeletons in North America, which came from Montana, Idaho and Texas, scientists say.
Two sets of tests were performed on the bones and have produced differing estimates of their age. The first set produced a date of 11,000 years old.
A second set of tests revealed an age of about 13,000 years.
The bones from Santa Rosa Island join an exclusive group of skeletons from the very earliest people to arrive in the Western Hemisphere. In those days, the colonizers would have seen continent-size glaciers and woolly mammoths. The sea level was 120 meters lower than it is today. The northern Channel Islands near Ventura and Santa Barbara counties were joined in a contiguous land mass that scientists refer to as Santa Rosae.
A campsite known as Monte Verde in southern Chile was occupied 12,500 years ago. At the Cactus Hill site in Virginia, scientists found stone tools and charcoal that may date back 15,500 years.
These discoveries challenge the theory that the first migrants slogged overland through passages in receding glaciers. Travel along that route would have been slow and perilous, and does not account for widespread distribution of humans at such an early date, the experts said.
Scientists increasingly postulate that the original colonizers of the New World might have taken a coastal route. Where glaciers stopped at the water's edge, protein-rich seafood was abundant and the visitors could travel by boats. The bones from the island woman bolster that hypothesis, said archaeologist Rob Bonnichsen, director of the Center for the Study of First Americans at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
"The broad significance is it puts humans in a maritime setting in western North America 13,000 years ago. It demonstrates the use of boats," Bonnichsen said. "This Arlington Springs find is really a significant find in terms of providing support for that larger theoretical idea."
The new discovery is likely to be controversial in part because many scientists say that the old skeletons found in the past few years around the western United States do not resemble modern American Indians.
Many American-Indian groups strongly object to the theory that others got here first. In some cases, including one major one in the Northwest, tribes successfully have invoked the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to force researchers to return old skeletons for reburial before they can be tested. Paul Varela, executive director of the Chumash Interpretive Center in Thousand Oaks, said oral traditions passed down through generations of Central Coast Indians confirm that they were the first inhabitants of California.
"If you ask a Chumash person, they will tell you they have been here forever. We've always been here," Varela said.
In part to resolve such questions, University of California, Davis anthropologist David Glenn Smith said he hopes to begin DNA testing by summer on bones from 18 very old North American skeletons, including the Arlington Springs woman. The testing would go far in determining the ancestry and closest living relatives of America's first inhabitants.
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
Susquehannock artifacts on display at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, 2007The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Pub.L. 101-601, 104 Stat. 3048, is a United States federal law passed on 16 November 1990 requiring federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding to return Native American cultural items and human remains to their respective peoples. Cultural items include funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. In addition, it authorizes a program of federal grants to assist in the repatriation process. It is now the strongest federal legislation pertaining to aboriginal remains and artifacts.
Scientist: Oldest American skull found
(CNN) -- Researchers said it may be the oldest skull ever found in the Americas: an elongated-faced woman who died about 13,000 years ago.
But perhaps more significant than the age, researchers said, is that the skull and other bones were found while a well was being dug near Mexico City International Airport. Because the remains were discovered outside the United States, scientists will be able to study the DNA and structure of the skeleton without the objection of Native American groups, who can claim and rebury ancestral remains under a 1990 U.S. law
http://edition.cnn.com/2002/TECH/scienc ... est.skull/
DNA analysis of skeleton suggests Adam and Eve were Aussies
'First Americans were Australian'
First Americans May Have Come From Australia
http://discovermagazine.com/2005/jan/fi ... -australia
Reconstructing Indian-Australian phylogenetic link.
First Americans left fossil stools in cave latrine http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13586-first-americans-left-fossil-stools-in-cave-latrine.html?feedId=online-news_rss20
US Court Strikes Down Patent on Human Genes
In what is sure to become a landmark case for genomics, a US District Court Judge in New York (Robert Sweet) has ruled that patents on human genes held by Myriad Genetics are invalid.
it seems like the human genome may no longer be up for grabs as intellectual property. Thank goodness