by David Kindy/Smithsonianmag.com
For decades, scientists speculated that Native Americans were related the Jomon, an ancient people who settled in Japan about 15,000 years ago. Similarities between archaeological materials found on both sides of the Pacific Ocean pointed to this possibility.
New genetic research of teeth and physical analysis of skeletal remains of both populations, however, show this to be an unlikely scenario, reports Harry Baker of Live Science. According to a peer-reviewed study published in the journal PaleoAmerica, these first Americans are more closely related to East Asians in Siberia than the Jomon in Japan.
“The Jomon were not directly ancestral to Native Americans,” lead author G. Richard Scott, professor of anthropology at the University of Reno, Nevada, and an expert in the study of human teeth, tells Live Science. “They [the Jomon] are more aligned with Southeast Asian and Pacific groups than with East Asian and Native American groups.”
Originally, scientists based their belief on stone tools, including arrowheads, found among both communities. This similar archaeological record dating back 15,000 years in Japan and North America was viewed as proof of the relationship between the two populations.