Advancements in Beringia Theory

Linguists have made further advancements in showing a relationship between Siberian and Alaskan languages called the Dené–Yeniseian family. Dené is the Alaskan and Yeniseian is the Siberian branch of the family. Linguists used phylogenetic analysis, relying on linguistic similarities and ancient migration patterns out of Beringia as their computer data.

The researchers first coded a linguistic data set from the languages, modeled the relationship between the data, and then modeled it against migration patterns from Asia to North America, or out-of-Beringia. The data shows the language moved south after some moved back to Asia from Beringia. The research is published at: Sicoli MA, Holton G (2014) Linguistic Phylogenies Support Back-Migration from Beringia to Asia; PLoS ONE 9(3): e91722. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091722.

Science 2.0 has the report here, with diagrams.

There are 37 groups speaking Ne-Dene languages including the Navajo. There are only 50 speakers left of the Yeniseian language known as Ket in Siberia. The movements took place 10,000 years ago and the study does not include movements of people at an earlier time. Live Science has the additional facts here.

An additional study on Beringia was released March 1 that sheds more light on this migration pattern.

Outlines of modern Siberia (left) and Alaska (right) with dashed lines. The broader area in darker green (now covered by ocean) represents the Bering land bridge near the end of the last glacial maximum, a period that lasted from 28,000 to 18,000 years ago when sea levels were low and ice sheets extended south into what is now the northern part of the lower 48 states. University of Utah anthropologist Dennis O’Rourke argues in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal Science that the ancestors of Native Americans migrated from Asia onto the Bering land bridge or “Beringia” some 25,000 years ago and spent 10,000 years there until they began moving into the Americas 15,000 years ago as the ice sheets melted. Credit: Wlliam Manley, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado

University of Utah archaeologists have found further evidence that ancient immigrants to America inhabited the Bering land bridge called Beringia for some 10,000 years, from 23,000 BC until 15,000 BC, when they moved into the Americas. Sediment studies show that Beringia had vegetation that could support human habitation at the time. Genetic studies show the gene blueprint for Native Americans separated from Asia during this time. Mitochondrial DNA of Native Americans today shows that their genetic blueprint arose before 25,000 years ago, but did not spread through the Americas till 15,000 years ago.

To confirm this, archaeological sites, now underwater, must be found in the area of the once above water Beringia. Science Daily has the report here. Similarly, National Geographic published this report in 2008.

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2 Responses to Advancements in Beringia Theory

  1. Gator Woman says:

    This is wonderful. Thank you!

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