An global team of scientists, managed by Professor Eske Willerslev of the St John's College, University of Cambridge and director of The Lundbeck Foundation Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, found two 31,000-year-old milk teeth in an archaeological site in northern Siberia.
"Ancient "paleo-Siberians" are not direct ancestors of native Americans, but they represent something very close to it".
EXPERTS have discovered a previously unknown human species that roamed Siberia, DNA evidence has revealed.
The study, in which 34 samples of human genomes from the archeological sites across northern Siberia and central Russian Federation were analyzed, reveals that the Ancient North Siberians are more related to Europeans than Asians, being possible ancestors of the contemporary people from northern Eurasia and America. The nearest match was a woman the team calls Kolyma1, who lived in northeastern Siberia some 9,800 years ago. "The sites we studied included Yana, which are over 30,000 years old, the earliest human remains in the far northeast of Siberia".
While it had previously been thought that these remains might be from the ancestors of native North Americans, the DNA data suggests otherwise.
However, they have formed their own culture - scientists have found the bones of mammoths with engraved drawings.
Siberia has been inhabited by humans for some 40,000 years, and new genomic analysis made possible by the recovery of ancient baby teeth is shedding light on the ancient humans who lived there.
The second study, researchers explored the roots of another population scientists call Paleo-Eskimos, thought to have arrived in America about 5,000 years ago. However, the majority of their DNA was attributed to another group, which the team have dubbed the Ancient Paleo-Siberians.
"These people were a significant part of human history, they diversified nearly at the same time as the ancestors of modern day Asians and Europeans and it's likely that at one point they occupied large regions of the northern hemisphere", Professor Willerslev said in a statement. About two-thirds of her genome bears a remarkable similarity to those of living Native Americans, making her "the closest we have ever gotten to a Native American ancestor outside the Americas", Willerslev told Michael Price at Science.
The team add that one possibility is that the mixing involving the East Asians occurred in southern Beringia - one of the areas that could have offered respite from harshening conditions at the time.
Instead, it is now believed that the Native American ancestors came into contact with this group some 20,000 years ago and mixed to give rise to another group.
John Hoffecker from the University of Colorado Boulder, who was not involved in the study, welcomed the research, saying a striking feature of the study is that humans were faring well in north-eastern Siberia, even in very hard conditions, 30,000 years ago - with the genetic data from the teeth suggesting the males belonged to a population of about 500 people.
He continued: "That's a pretty healthy population".