8,500-year-old 'Kennewick Man' skeleton was likely Native American, not Ainu, DNA findings indicate
Japan Times -- Jun 19
The much-anticipated results of a study of DNA taken from the hand bone of the so-called Kennewick Man, a 8,500-year-old skeleton discovered in Washington state in 1996, suggest the man was most closely related to Native American populations, a team of international researchers said on Thursday.

The DNA findings, published online in the journal Nature, contradict a 2014 study based on anatomical data that suggested the skeleton was most closely related to Polynesian or indigenous Japanese populations.

The Kennewick Man, named for the site of his discovery near the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington, has been at the center of a bitter legal dispute between scientists, who want to study the remains, and a coalition of Native American tribes that is arguing for their reburial.

The dispute ended in 2004 with a ruling in favor of more research.

A study published in 2014 concluded that the Kennewick Man's anatomy was more similar to Japan's indigenous Ainu and Polynesian populations.

The researchers compared DNA extracted from a hand bone of the skeleton to that of modern Native American tribes and other world populations and concluded the Kennewick man was only distantly related to populations other than Native Americans, such as the Ainu of Japan or peoples from Polynesia, rejecting the earlier hypothesis.

News source: Japan Times
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