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DNA and the Book of Mormon

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The Book of Mormon "...is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites...who are a remnant of the house of Israel...."  (Title Page of the Book of Mormon)

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"Great Surprise"—Native Americans Have Middle East and European Origins
"Nearly one-third of Native American genes come...from people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome."

Oldest human genome reveals less of an East Asian ancestry than thought.
Native Americans may have a more complicated heritage than previously believed.
National Geographic
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 20, 2013
 
"Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from...people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome.
The study authors believe the new study could also help resolve some long-standing puzzles on the peopling of the New World, which include genetic oddities and archaeological inconsistencies.
"These results were a great surprise to us," said study co-author and ancient-DNA specialist Eske Willerslev, of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
"I hadn't expected anything like this. A genome related to present-day western Eurasian populations and modern Native Americans as well was really puzzling in the beginning. How could this happen?"
 
So what's new?
The arm bone of a three-year-old boy from the Mal'ta site near the shores of Lake Baikal in south-central Siberia (map) yielded what may be the oldest genome of modern humans ever sequenced.
DNA from the remains revealed genes found today in western Eurasians in the Middle East and Europe, as well as other aspects unique to Native Americans, but no evidence of any relation to modern East Asians.
Why is it important?
Prevailing theories suggest that Native Americans are descended from a group of East Asians who crossed the Bering Sea via a land bridge....
"This study changes this idea because it shows that a significant minority of Native American ancestry actually derives not from East Asia but from a people related to present-day western Eurasians," Willerslev said.
"It's approximately one-third of the genome, and that is a lot," he added. "So in that regard I think it's changing quite a bit of the history."
While the land bridge still formed the gateway to America, the study now portrays Native Americans as a group derived from the meeting of two different populations, one ancestral to East Asians and the other related to western Eurasians, explained Willerslev, whose research was published in the November 20 edition of the journal Nature.
"The meeting of those two groups is what formed Native Americans as we know them." (Learn more about National Geographic's Genographic Project.)

What does this mean?
Willerslev believes the discovery provides simpler and more likely explanations to long-standing controversies related to the peopling of the Americas.
"Although we know that North Americans are related to East Asians, it's striking that no contemporary East Asian populations really resemble Native Americans," he said.
"It's not like you can say that they are really closely related to Japanese, Chinese, or Koreans, so there seems to be something missing. But this result makes a lot of sense regarding why they don't fit so well genetically with contemporary East Asians—because one-third of their genome is derived from another population."
The findings could also allow reinterpretation of archaeological and anthropological evidence, like the famed Kennewick Man, whose remains don't look much like modern-day Native American or East Asian populations, according to some interpretations.
"Maybe, if he looks like something else, it's because a third of his ancestry isn't coming from East Asia but from something like the western Eurasians." 


"It's not like you can say that they are really closely related to Japanese, Chinese, or Koreans, so there seems to be something missing. But this result makes a lot of sense regarding why they don't fit so well genetically with contemporary East Asians—because one-third of their genome is derived from another population."The findings could also allow reinterpretation of archaeological and anthropological evidence, like the famed Kennewick Man, whose remains don't look much like modern-day Native American or East Asian populations, according to some interpretations.
"Maybe, if he looks like something else, it's because a third of his ancestry isn't coming from East Asia but from something like the western Eurasians." 
What's next?
Many questions remain unanswered, including where and when the mixing of west Eurasian and East Asian populations occurred.

"Great Surprise"—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins  (National Geographic, by Brian Handwerk, Nov. 20, 2013)  (PDF file)
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Additional Information:
 
Geneticist Traces Mysterious Origins of Native Americans to Middle East, Ancient Greece   (Epoch Times, Aug. 1, 2014 by Tara MacIsaac) (Video 3:48 min.)