Nature 2003 Sep;425(6953):62-5
Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat de Biologia, Secció d'Antropologia, Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.
A current issue on the settlement of the Americas refers to the lack of morphological affinities between early Holocene human remains (Palaeoamericans) and modern Amerindian groups, as well as the degree of contribution of the former to the gene pool of the latter. A different origin for Palaeoamericans and Amerindians is invoked to explain such a phenomenon. Under this hypothesis, the origin of Palaeoamericans must be traced back to a common ancestor for Palaeoamericans and Australians, which departed from somewhere in southern Asia and arrived in the Australian continent and the Americas around 40,000 and 12,000 years before present, respectively. Most modern Amerindians are believed to be part of a second, morphologically differentiated migration. Here we present evidence of a modern Amerindian group from the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico, showing clearer affinities with Palaeoamerican remains than with modern Amerindians. Climatic changes during the Middle Holocene probably generated the conditions for isolation from the continent, restricting the gene flow of the original group with northern populations, which resulted in the temporal continuity of the Palaeoamerican morphological pattern to the present.