Palaeo-Eskimo genetic ancestry and the peopling of Chukotka and North America

Pavel Flegontov, N. Ezgi Altınışık, Piya Changmai, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, Nicole Adamski, Deborah A. Bolnick, Nasreen Broomandkhoshbacht, Francesca Candilio, Brendan J. Culleton, Olga Flegontova, T. Max Friesen, Choongwon Jeong, Thomas K. Harper, Denise Keating, Douglas J. Kennett, Alexander M. Kim, Thiseas C. Lamnidis, Ann Marie Lawson, Iñigo OlaldeJonas Oppenheimer, Ben A. Potter, Jennifer Raff, Robert A. Sattler, Pontus Skoglund, Kristin Stewardson, Edward J. Vajda, Sergey Vasilyev, Elizaveta Veselovskaya, M. Geoffrey Hayes, Dennis H. O’Rourke, Johannes Krause, Ron Pinhasi, David Reich, Stephan Schiffels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Much of the American Arctic was first settled 5,000 years ago, by groups of people known as Palaeo-Eskimos. They were subsequently joined and largely displaced around 1,000 years ago by ancestors of the present-day Inuit and Yup’ik1–3. The genetic relationship between Palaeo-Eskimos and Native American, Inuit, Yup’ik and Aleut populations remains uncertain4–6. Here we present genomic data for 48 ancient individuals from Chukotka, East Siberia, the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and the Canadian Arctic. We co-analyse these data with data from present-day Alaskan Iñupiat and West Siberian populations and published genomes. Using methods based on rare-allele and haplotype sharing, as well as established techniques4,7–9, we show that Palaeo-Eskimo-related ancestry is ubiquitous among people who speak Na-Dene and Eskimo–Aleut languages. We develop a comprehensive model for the Holocene peopling events of Chukotka and North America, and show that Na-Dene-speaking peoples, people of the Aleutian Islands, and Yup’ik and Inuit across the Arctic region all share ancestry from a single Palaeo-Eskimo-related Siberian source.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-240
Number of pages5
Issue number7760
StatePublished - Jun 13 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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