ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2009) — For two decades, researchers have been using a growing volume of genetic data to debate whether ancestors of Native Americans emigrated to the New World in one wave or successive waves, or from one ancestral Asian population or a number of different populations.
Now, after painstakingly comparing DNA samples from people in dozens of modern-day Native American and Eurasian groups, an international team of scientists thinks it can put the matter to rest: virtually without exception, the new evidence supports the single ancestral population theory.
"Our work provides strong evidence that, in general, Native Americans are more closely related to each other than to any other existing Asian populations, except those that live at the very edge of the Bering Strait," said Kari Britt Schroeder, a lecturer at the University of California, Davis, and the first author on the paper describing the study.
"While earlier studies have already supported this conclusion, what's different about our work is that it provides the first solid data that simply cannot be reconciled with multiple ancestral populations," said Schroeder, who was a Ph.D. student in anthropology at the university when she did the research.
The study is published in the May issue of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.
The team's work follows up on earlier studies by several of its members who found a unique variant (an allele) of a genetic marker in the DNA of modern-day Native American people.
"There are a number of really strong papers based on mitochondrial DNA — which is passed from mother to daughter — and Y-chromosome DNA — which is passed from father to son — that have also supported a single ancestral population," Schroeder said. "But this is the first definitive evidence we have that comes from DNA that is carried by both sexes."
The Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies is designed to promote the academic study of religion at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The journal is affiliated with the Religious Studies Program at Utah State University. Our academic review committee includes professionals from universities throughout the Intermountain West specializing in the religions of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Mormonism, as well as specialists in the fields of Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology of Religion.
The first issue of the Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies is slated for electronic publication in the summer of 2009. The second issue will be published the following Winter.
The journal is unique in three ways:
1. The IMW Journal is entirely student run with an academic review board consisting exclusively of scholars in the field. The staff consists of USU students. Though student editors participate in screening submissions, membership in the academic review board is limited to professional scholars.
2. The IMW Journal seeks submissions from students throughout the Intermountain West. Whereas the vast majority of undergraduate or graduate journals limit submissions to their respective universities, the IMW Journal actively promotes the study of religion throughout the region. The journal is enhanced through diversity. The university and program is promoted via the journal's outreach efforts.
3. The IMW Journal takes full advantage of the benefits of electronic publishing. Publications enhance any young scholar's curriculum vita. Students are limited to the number of semesters they are eligible and able to submit their research to journals in order to meet the deadlines of graduate school applications. The journal publishes materials on an ongoing rather than a periodic basis, eliminating any backlog between acceptance and publication. It is conceivable that an article could be submitted and published electronically within one semester.
Another advantage the IMW Journal has in producing a quality product is the active participation of Dr. Charles Prebish, the Chair of Religious Studies at Utah State University. Dr. Prebish is the founding editor-emeritus for the Journal of Buddhist Ethics, the first online peer-reviewed journal in Religious Studies. Dr. Prebish has agreed to advise the Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies, instructing and counseling the editors in a successful student initiative.
More can be read about the journal here.