Altai in southern Siberia sits right at the centre of Russia. But the tiny, mountainous republic has a claim to fame unknown until now – Native Americans can trace their origins to the remote region.
DNA research revealed that genetic markers linking people living in the Russian republic of Altai, southern Siberia, with indigenous populations in North America.
A study of the mutations indicated a lineage shift between 13,000 and 14,000 years ago – when people are thought to have walked across the ice from Russia to America.
This roughly coincides with the period when humans from Siberia are thought to have crossed what is now the Bering strait and entered America.
‘Altai is a key area because it’s a place where people have been coming and going for thousands and thousands of years,’ said Dr Theodore Schurr, from the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
Among the people who may have emerged from the Altai region are the predecessors of the first Native Americans.