A preliminary analysis of the DNA and diet of the extinct Beothuk: A systematic approach to ancient human DNA

A preliminary analysis of the DNA and diet of the extinct Beothuk: A systematic approach to ancient human DNA

We have used a systematic protocol for extracting, quantitating, sexing and validating ancient human mitochondrial and nuclear DNA of one male and one female Beothuk, a Native American population from Newfoundland, which became extinct 180 years ago. They carried mtDNA haplotypes, which fall within haplogroups X and C, consistent with Northeastern Native populations today. In addition we have sexed the male using a novel-sexing assay and confirmed the authenticity of his Y chromosome with the presence of the Native American specific Y-QM3 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). This is the first ancient nuclear SNP typed from a Native population in the Americas. In addition, using the same teeth we conducted a stable isotopes analysis of collagen and dentine to show that both individuals relied on marine sources (fresh and salt water fish, seals) with no hierarchy seen between them, and that their water sources were pooled or stored water. Both mtDNA sequence data and Y SNP data hint at possible gene flow or a common ancestral population for both the Beothuk and the current day Mikmaq, but more importantly the data do not lend credence to the proposed idea that the Beothuk (specifically, Nonosabasut) were of admixed (European-Native American) descent. We also analyzed patterns of DNA damage in the clones of authentic mtDNA sequences; there is no tendency for DNA damage to occur preferentially at previously defined mutational hotspots, suggesting that such mutational hotspots are not hypervariable because they are more prone to damage.

This is a mt DNA analysis of chief Nonosabasut, and wife, Demasduit from Newfoundland. He was X2a, and she was C (Q-M3). I keep seeing Asia put down as the place of origin for X2a. Have I missed a paper? As far as I know X2 is limited to western Europe, the near east and the Saami.

One response to “A preliminary analysis of the DNA and diet of the extinct Beothuk: A systematic approach to ancient human DNA

  1. You should do some testing on the local Miq Maq
    of Bay St. George region to see if the stories about a blending of the two groups actually took place. The Beothuk may not be completely defunct, but live on through their decendants.

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