Mitochondrial haplogroup M discovered in prehistoric North Americans

Ripan S Malhi, Brian M. Kemp, Jason A. Eshleman, Jerome Cybulski, David Glenn Smith, Scott Cousins, Harold Harry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyzed two mid-Holocene (∼5000 years before present) individuals from North America that belong to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup M, a common type found in East Asia, but one that has never before been reported in ancient or living indigenous populations in the Americas. This study provides evidence that the founding migrants of the Americas exhibited greater genetic diversity than previously recognized, prompting us to reconsider the widely accepted five-founder model that posits that the Americas were colonized by only five founding mtDNA lineages. Additional genetic studies of prehistoric remains in the Americas are likely to reveal important insights into the early population history of Native Americans. However, the usefulness of this information will be tempered by the ability of researchers to distinguish novel founding lineages from contamination and, as such, we recommend strategies to successfully accomplish this goal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)642-648
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Ancient DNA
  • DNA
  • Molecular dating
  • Native American
  • Peopling of the Americas
  • Population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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