Although the cultural and nutritive importance of the turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) to precontact Native Americans and contemporary people worldwide is clear, little is known about the domestication of this bird compared to other domesticates. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of 149 turkey bones and 29 coprolites from 38 archaeological sites (200 BC-AD 1800) reveals a unique domesticated breed in the precontact Southwestern United States. Phylogeographic analyses indicate that this domestic breed originated from outside the region, but rules out the South Mexican domestic turkey (Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo) as a progenitor. A strong genetic bottleneck within the Southwest turkeys also reflects intensive human selection and breeding. This study points to at least two occurrences of turkey domestication in precontact North America and illuminates the intensity and sophistication of New World animal breeding practices.
Cites: Mol Ecol. 2002 Apr;11(4):643-5711972754
Cites: Bioinformatics. 2003 Aug 12;19(12):1572-412912839
In this study, we explore the geographic and temporal distribution of a unique variant of the O blood group allele called O1v(G542A) , which has been shown to be shared among Native Americans but is rare in other populations. O1v(G542A) was previously reported in Native American populations in Mesoamerica and South America, and has been proposed as an ancestry informative marker. We investigated whether this allele is also found in the Tlingit and Haida, two contemporary indigenous populations from Alaska, and a pre-Columbian population from California. If O1v(G542A) is present in Na-Dene speakers (i.e., Tlingits), it would indicate that Na-Dene speaking groups share close ancestry with other Native American groups and support a Beringian origin of the allele, consistent with the Beringian Incubation Model. If O1v(G542A) is found in pre-Columbian populations, it would further support a Beringian origin of the allele, rather than a more recent introduction of the allele into the Americas via gene flow from one or more populations which have admixed with Native Americans over the past five centuries. We identified this allele in one Na-Dene population at a frequency of 0.11, and one ancient California population at a frequency of 0.20. Our results support a Beringian origin of O1v(G542A) , which is distributed today among all Native American groups that have been genotyped in appreciable numbers at this locus. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that Na-Dene and other Native American populations primarily derive their ancestry from a single source population.
Salmon represented a critical resource for prehistoric foragers along the North Pacific Rim, and continue to be economically and culturally important; however, the origins of salmon exploitation remain unresolved. Here we report 11,500-y-old salmon associated with a cooking hearth and human burials from the Upward Sun River Site, near the modern extreme edge of salmon habitat in central Alaska. This represents the earliest known human use of salmon in North America. Ancient DNA analyses establish the species as Oncorhynchus keta (chum salmon), and stable isotope analyses indicate anadromy, suggesting that salmon runs were established by at least the terminal Pleistocene. The early use of this resource has important implications for Paleoindian land use, economy, and expansions into northwest North America.
Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA were analyzed from 10,300-year-old human remains excavated from On Your Knees Cave on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska (Site 49-PET-408). This individual's mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) represents the founder haplotype of an additional subhaplogroup of haplogroup D that was brought to the Americas, demonstrating that widely held assumptions about the genetic composition of the earliest Americans are incorrect. The amount of diversity that has accumulated in the subhaplogroup over the past 10,300 years suggests that previous calibrations of the mtDNA clock may have underestimated the rate of molecular evolution. If substantiated, the dates of events based on these previous estimates are too old, which may explain the discordance between inferences based on genetic and archaeological evidence regarding the timing of the settlement of the Americas. In addition, this individual's Y-chromosome belongs to haplogroup Q-M3*, placing a minimum date of 10,300 years ago for the emergence of this haplogroup.
This study examines the mtDNA diversity of the proposed descendants of the multiethnic Hohokam and Anasazi cultural traditions, as well as Uto-Aztecan and Southern-Athapaskan groups, to investigate hypothesized migrations associated with the Southwest region. The mtDNA haplogroups of 117 Native Americans from southwestern North America were determined. The hypervariable segment I (HVSI) portion of the control region of 53 of these individuals was sequenced, and the within-haplogroup diversity of 18 Native American populations from North, Central, and South America was analyzed. Within North America, populations in the West contain higher amounts of diversity than in other regions, probably due to a population expansion and high levels of gene flow among subpopulations in this region throughout prehistory. The distribution of haplogroups in the Southwest is structured more by archaeological tradition than by language. Yumans and Pimans exhibit substantially greater genetic diversity than the Jemez and Zuni, probably due to admixture and genetic isolation, respectively. We find no evidence of a movement of mtDNA lineages northward into the Southwest from Central Mexico, which, in combination with evidence from nuclear markers, suggests that the spread of Uto-Aztecan was facilitated by predominantly male migration. Southern Athapaskans probably experienced a bottleneck followed by extensive admixture during the migration to their current homeland in the Southwest.