This schematic shows the settlement history of Newfoundland encompassing occupations by at least three distinct cultural groups: MA, Dorset Palaeoeskimo, and Beothuk. Credit: Deirdre Elliott with QGIS 2.18.44, and data from Stephen Hull and Natural Earth.
Oct. 12, 2017 (Phys.org) -- Indigenous people have been on the far northeastern edge of Canada for most of the last 10,000 years, moving in shortly after the ice retreated from the Last Glacial Maximum.
Archaeological evidence suggests that people with distinct cultural traditions inhabited the region at least three different times with a possible hiatus for a period between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago.
Now, researchers who've examined genetic evidence from mitochondrial DNA provide evidence that two of those groups, known as the Maritime Archaic and Beothuk, brought different matrilines to the island, adding further support to the notion that those groups had distinct population histories. The findings were published Oct. 12 in Current Biology.
"Our paper suggests, based purely on mitochondrial DNA, that the Maritime Archaic were not the direct ancestors of the Beothuk and that the two groups did not share a very recent common ancestor," says Ana Duggan of McMaster University. "This, in turn, implies that the island of Newfoundland was populated multiple times by distinct groups."