Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A short comment: Think Outside of The Box

You must be wondering, after reading my most recent posts... "What does this have to do with Patagonian Monsters?", I have to admit that the link seems tenuous at most, but it exists.

The series began when I decided to look into the possible genetic connection between archaic hominids and modern humans, in an attempt to explain "giants", "wild men", "ogres", etc. in Patagonia as being extant (or recently extinguished) Neanderthals or Homo erectus.

Now this has to do with the date that modern humans entered America from Asia. What if... they arrived long ago. What if... it was our distant relative Neanderthal or even a more distant one (H. erectus) who did so. Wouldn't their genes appear mixed with ours? What does the genetic bread-crumb trail show?

So I decided to look into ancient sites in America (the older the better), the genetic markers of archaics more prevalent among Amerindians and so on.

But, as far as I can see, the genetics are based on simulations that try to fit the mutations into the predefined box of a late peopling of the Americas.

There are no direct measurement of mutation vs. dated remains.

No. There are simulations with "burns" and 10 million runs that "prove" what they are expected to prove, but no hard data: this skeleton's mtDNA has "x" mutations and is "y" ky old, and that other one, with a similar haplogroup, dated to XX kya BP has "x1" mutations, therefore there are n mutations per ky... no, that sort of science is left for engineers, not for paleo archaeologists.

I looked into the method, how are the ticks of the mtDNA clock calculated, calibrated, defined. And was surprised at the variable rates and at how these are calculated. And in all the papers that I have read, I have seen how the rates are "hand adjusted" to fit the expected date of entry into the Americas.

In my humble opinion, when Science requires an act of faith it ceases to be Science and becomes dogma, a religion.

So, let's try to Think Outside of the Box.

think outside of the box

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

mtDNA D4h3a (Continued)

In my previous posts we have seen that along the west coast of America a rare mtDNA haplogroup (D4h3a) which is found there at much higher frequencies than elsewhere. In today's post we will look into this haplogroup in detail, and ask some questions.

How rare is the D4h3a haplogroup?

Map showing distribution of D4h3a in the Americas. Adapted from (2), by Austin Whittall

The map shown above gives an idea regarding the frequency at which this rare haplogroup is found in the Americas. On the left side, the original map from Perego et al. (2). Which is a rather "tricky" depiction since it portrays a gradual diffusion or decrease of the haplogroup across wide territories (Western U.S., Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Amazon in Brazil; Chilean and Argentine Patagonia), which, if you check the tables below, is not exactly true.

The samples are discrete, not a continuum, taken at locations that cover the whole continent. They are discrete points and as such cannot "fade" or dissolve.

That is why I added the right side map, which shows the (red) current populations carrying D4h3a and in orange the remains of Paleoindians found carrying it. These pinpoint discrete points on the map, not vast territories.

The data also shows that one (yes 1) individual in each group (in the case of Mexico and Peru, carries D4h3a), that implies that there cannot be a "shaded" area on the map. In the case of Chile, Ecuador and the U.S., the natives lived in specific areas of a limited surface, not in large territories as is the case of modern nation-states.

So let's take a look at frequencies based on cases with this haplogroup out of a given population. The supplemental tables of Perego et al. (2) show that it is only found in:

Mixed extant Populations

  • 0.42% California
  • 1.50% North Mexico
  • 0.29% Central Mexico
  • 0.14% South Mexico
  • 1.88% Peru
  • 2.93% Chile
  • 0.48% Bolivia - Paraguay
  • 0.15% Brazil

It is absent in all the rest of the countries of the continent and in the US outside of California.

InNative American Groups its frequency is high in some groups, low in others and absent in most:

  • 21.67% Cayapa (Ecuador)
  • 16.00% Chumash (Ca. US)
  • 10.26% Fuegians (Chile)
  • 2.70% Mapuche (Chile)
  • 2.56% Klunk Mound
  • 1.82% Tarahumara (Mexico)
  • 1.28% Nahua (Mexico)
  • 0.40% Mixtek - Mixe - Zapotec (Mexico)
  • 0.95% Quechua (Peru)

It is absent in all other Native Americans sampled.

Clearly the canoe people (Cayapa, Chumash and Fuegians) have the highest frequencies. Mapuche very likely got it thorugh admixture with the now extinct Chono (who also carried it), under Spanish rule in northern Patagonia, at the Chiloé Island outpost.

The other groups in Mexico and Peru carry it at a frequency below 2%, all the North American native people except the Chumash and the Klunk Mound skeletal remains do not carry it.

Yes, as you can see there is one oddity: the Klunk Mound "hotspot", in Illiniois, U.S., it is far from the Pacific coast canoe people and was sampled from the bones of an ancient indian.

Klunk Mound Illinois

The image below shows where this non-coastal location is: Northern U.S.:

Table from (2) showing the Klunk Mound anomaly

The data indicates that out of 39 skeletal remains analyzed, only 1 carried the D4h3a haplogroup. (that is what the 2.56% frequency means). It is a low frequency, but it is real, and was found very far away from the coastal region.

The Pete Klunk Mound group is located in a north-south line on the bluffs of the Illinois River, this north of the town of Kampsville (39° 18' 14" N, 90° 36' 7") in Calhoun Cty., Illinois, U.S. See the map below:


The Pete Klunk group is made up of fourteen mounds which were excavated in 1960-61 by Gregory Perino. The remains, affiliated with the Illinois Hopewell cultural phenomenon date to 1,825 +⁄- 75 YBP. (Very young compared to the other remains descrbed in this post). (3)

The Klunk Mound remains can mean two things:

  1. This haplogroup was widespread across America (Pacific coast and well across the Rockies) and became extinct among all native groups being replaced by the other more common haplogroups now found in those groups (A, B, C, D). These surely migrated later into America.
  2. The Klunk mound person was from the West Coast and migrated across the U.S. to Illinois.

Option 1 is the most reasonable explanation, and is supported by Cui et al. (1):

They detected a sub-haplogroup (D4h3a7) in the remains of a Paleoindian from Lucy Island, Canada, about 200 km (125 mi) south of "On Your Knees" Cave. They dated it to 5.710 +⁄- 40 BP.

You will recall that the first sample of D4h3a was found at "On Your Knees " Cave in southern Alaska, and dated at 10.3 kya. The fact it was found in a paleoindian on an island points towards ancient "canoe" people.

It seems quite prevalent in this area among ancient -now defunct- Native Americans.

Cui's paper adds that "Sub-haplogroup D4h3a is not identified in any ancient or living individuals on the Northwest Coast after approximately 6000 years BP... This suggests that sub-haplogroup D4h3a is either in extremely low frequency or has gone extinct in living populations of the Northwest Coast...." (1)

They point out that in the past it was more prevalent, since "two of seven (29%) early-mid Holocene skeletal remains from different archaeological sites continent-wide exhibit mitochondrial sub-haplogroup D4h3a" (1).

Its current absence in the area is attributed to "the result of random genetic drift in situ and/or the result of population movements into the geographic region..." (1).

In other words they support the idea that it was widespread and was replaced by newcomers' mtDNA.

The First People in America

It is quite probable that the original first peopling wave of H. sapiens carried D4h3 with them (I deliberately left the "a" and went a step backwards, towards the root for reasons I will explain later on in this post), the entered America, occupied the whole continent from Bering to Tierra del Fuego.

The clade mutated into subclades hence D4h3 became D4h3a and this in turn mutated into the variants we find today (D4h3a1, a2.... a7).

Then came other wave/s of migrants from Asia, they overcame the first wave who mixed, fell prey to the diseases these new Asians brought, were killed in tribal warfare or being much inferior in number were diluted by the new mtDNAs into non-existence.

Only those living in specialized ecological niches: i.e. canoe people in a geographical setting with islands (Fuegia, Southern Chile, Santa Catalina islands in California) survived, the others perished (the remains of the Klunk Mound, Lucy Island and "On Your Knees" men prove it).

And now we look at the area occupied by D4h3a it seems that they came with a group of canoe people who paddled down the Pacific Ocean's coastline settling here and there.

We should not infer population patterns from the areas that they currently occupy.

The Chinese connection

An interesting point is that D4h3 is not exclusively American, the D4h3a subclade is found exclusively in the Americas, but the other subclade, D4h3b was identified in one Chinese individual Qingdao, Shandong province, Eastern China. (2) You can read the original paper by Yao et al. (4) if interested (individual is QD8153).

This is a very important piece of information. Its extreme rarity in Asia is estimated at 1 x 10-4 (1 : 10.000) by Perego et al., but instead of exploring the reasons for this, they use it, as expected, to buttress the "Out of Africa" theory and currently accepted timelines.

Perego's paper states that this Chinese branch poses an: "... upper limit for the most recent common female Asian ancestor of D4h3." (2). So to fit in the Beringian migration c. 15 kya they calculate the following timelines: (Below is the tree with its branches and the dates that they calculated - From Figure S1 in (2) - see the image further down).

  • D4 (40.4 - 34.1 kya)
  • D4h (no date)
  • D4h3 (40.9 - 36.6 kya) [*]
    • D4h3b (no date)<< The Chinese clade
    • D4h3a (18.0 - 14.3 kya)
      • D4h3a1 (18.4 - 11.8 kya) [*]
      • D4h3a2 (11.5 - 9.6 kya)
      • D4h3a3 (10.5 - 3.3 kya)
      • D4h3a4 (1.5 - 0.1 kya)
      • D4h3a5 (25.3 - 30.6 kya) [*]
      • there are more branches.


The "American" haplogroup is dated at 18 - 14.3 kya, a nice fit for orthodoxy's 15 kya for entry into America. And though the Chinese clade is not dated it falls somewhere between 40 and 18 kya

I marked with [*] those branches that are older than the branch from which they arise. Seems wrong to me that a branch be older than a root....

The calculation is unclear, please take a look at the image below which displays the mutations:


Detail from Figure S1 in (2), D4 hg and its branches, mutations and estimated timeline

The authors originally state that "Time estimates shown for clades are averaged distance (?) of each haplotype to the respective root. The first value has been obtained by considering one coding-region substitution every 4,610 years, while the second one assuming 7,650 years per synonymous transition." (2).

But that is not what the image shows:

  • D4h3a1 has one "synonymous transition" (which I will abbreviate as: st) so should be 4.61 ky younger but, instead, it is older than D4h3a.
  • D4h3a2 also has one st but is 6.5 ky younger instead of 4.61 ky.
  • D4h3a4 also has one st but is 16,5 ky younger instead of 4.61 ky.
  • The root of all, haplogroup M is dated at 62.4 kya. After 2 st's it branches into D4 which the authors date at 40.4 kya (yes, 2 st's would be 9.22 ky but they calculate that as 22 kya).

I am an engineer and maths is straightforward for me, but this kind of maths baffles me. It feels as if they were forcing the data to make it fit with the required into-America-across-Beringia timeline.

This genetic mtDNA clock ticks at variable rates.

Haplogroup subclades

The D43Ha haplogroup is not the same among all Native Americans sampled, there are several subclades:

  • The Chilean group carried D4h3a1 and D4h3a2. These have accumulated a lot of internal variation
  • The Mexican and Californian (and one Chilean) carry D4h3a3.
  • The Lucy island man had another sublcade: D4h3a7 (5.7 kya).
  • What subclade did the Klunk Mound man carry? Below is a detail from (3):
    • KlunkMound 16223, 16241, 16301, 16318, 16342
    • Chumash 1d 16223, 16241, 16301, 16342
    • Chumash 2d 16223, 16241, 16301, 16342

    So it only differed in the HVR polymorphism 16318 from the some of the Chumash people's Haplogroup. (3)
  • The ca. 10,3 ky old "On Your Knees" man also had D4h3a... (which subclade?)
    He had a HVR polymorphism 16092 (3), which is found among the Chumash, Fuegians and a Nahua in Mexico, meaning it is close to the root of the subclades. But I have not seen it classified.

There is a lot of variation here among the different subclades and to me that spells a long time (each mutation requires a tick in the clock, more mutations = more ticks), but for Perego (2) it spells something different:

The rapid dispersion of D4h3a southward along the Pacific coast is supported by two deep subclades (D4h3a1 and D4h3a2), found exclusively in Chile, and by its spatial distribution.... Overall, these mtDNA findings make plausible a scenario positing that within a rather short period of time during the pre-Bølling interstadial (15.8 to 14.9 kya) and during the warmer Bølling interstadial (14.5 to 13.9 kya), the ice-free corridor may have opened for successful southward migration, whereas the Pacific coastal path may have been feasible somewhat earlier, but not before 17 kya, allowing for successive small-scale migrations of Beringian groups." (2)

Why does two "deep subclades" in Chile, with a lot of variations suggest a "rapid dispersion", baffles me.

What does "speed" have to do with subclade variations?

Actually, when a population is expanding (more offspring survive), it is more likely that mutations passed on from mother to daughter survive in the following generations and, with a larger quantity of women having children, there is more chances of random mutations taking place, thus creating even more variety and Haplogroup subclades. When a bottleneck occurs and populations contract, many mutations are lost as they are not passed on to anyone (bearer dies or all its offspring die).

A group of canoe people cannot be taken as an example of booming populations, and even if they paddle quickly to Tierra del Fuego, they will still be a small band of people in canoes restricted in their population size by the natural maritime resources they can exploit. All canoe populations have been small due to this reason.

So, let's try to offer an alternative explanation:

Another Explanation

The Chinese sublcade is not Asian, it originated in America and back-migrated into Asia, that is why (above) I suggested that the D4h haplogroup entered America and diversified there. The population expanded, new subclades arose. The Dh4b people went back to Asia, the others carrying the Dh4a clade marched on to occupy America, and their expanding population generating new sublcades.

They did not paddle along the coast, they walked, occupied the continent, leaving their mtDNA all across it.

Then, as explained above, other wave/s of modern humans arrived and replaced the original people, reducing them to marginal coastal areas where the pre-existing canoe people survived with their D4h3a mtDNA.

More to be posted on this subject....


(2) Perego, Ugo, A. et al., (2009). Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare mtDNA Haplogroups. Current Biology 19, 1-8, 2009 p. 2 doi 10.1016/j.cub.2008.11.058
(1) Cui, Yinqui, et al., (2013) Ancient DNA Analysis of Mid-Holocene Individuals from the Northwest Coast of North America Reveals Different Evolutionary Paths for Mitogenomes. Published: July 03, 2013, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066948
(3) Kemp, Brian, et al. (2007), Genetic Analysis of Early Holocene Skeletal Remains From Alaska and its Implications for the Settlement of the Americas. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 132:605–621
(4) Yao, et al. (2002), Phylogeographic differentiation of mitochondrial DNA in Han Chinese. Am J Hum Genet 70:635–651.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

mtDNA D4H3a haplogroup

This is the fourth post of a series. It continues my previous posts, in which I covered the Kentucky Red-haired Mummy (Eastern U.S., red haired Amerindian) and continued with the Cueva del Gualicho Mummy in Patagonia (which was also painted red and believed to be a Fuegian - more on Fuegians below: they were skilled canoe builders.), the third post was about the Pericué of Baja California, who were able seamen, used ochre on their dead and were related to the "red haired" Lovelock, Nevada, people who, like them and the Aleutians buried their dead in a similar maner.

In today's post we will look into a mtDNA that links several groups of Native Americans along the Pacific coast, who wer all canoe builders and seamen.

mtDNA D4h3a

The remains of a man found in 1996 at the On Your Knees Cave, on the Prince of Wales Island on the Alaska panhandle, US., were analysed, and dated to 10.3 kya. His mtDNA was sequenced and found to belong to a very singular haplogroup: D4h3a.

It is a very rare one since only 2% of Amerindians carry it. It is found at its highest frequencies among certain South American groups and less frequent in Mexico and California. (1) Let's take a look at its distribution:

Fuegian canoe people

Another group carrying D4h3A are the Yaghans (2) (also known as Yamana). They are Fuegians (yes, it seems Moreno was right). The Yaghans were canoe people, who became extinct due to European diseases by 1900. For millennia they had been the southernmost people in the whole world.

The Yaghan were canoe people, they used their canoes to navigate the sea from Cape Horn to Isla de los Estados Island in Tierra del Fuego. Their canoes were described by Captain Robert FitzRoy in the early 1800s as follows: (7)

"...its shape is nearly that which would be taken by the strong bark of the trunk of a tree (twelve to twenty feet in length, and a foot, or two feet, in diameter), separated from the solid wood, in one piece. If this piece of bark were drawn together at the ends, and kept open by sticks in the middle, it would look rather like a Fuegian canoe."

He was right, they were built from a single piece of bark, peeled off a Southern Beech tree. It was soaked in water and then shaped into a canoe, lashed to a frame made from saplings. (5)

yamana canoe

Yaghan bark canoe. (5)


Yet another group of Fuegians, the Alakaluf or Kawésqar people also carry this odd haplogroup (+10% frequency), they did not die out, and still live in the region. Coincidentally (or not), they are also canoe people, living to the west an northwestern shores of Tierra del Fuego Island.

An Alakaluf mummy (yes, they too buried their dead in caves, mummified, and wrapped in hides) (3)(6) was studied and its mtDNA sequenced. It was D4h3a too.

The Alakaluf canoes were dugouts, built by hollowing a large tree trunk and whittling it into a canoe. Later, after the arrival of the Europeans, they built them using axes and saws, with planks, imitating European boats.

Both Fuegian groups date back to at least 12 Kya in that region (4) and have myths relating to a universal deluge, perhaps recalling the period of deglaciation, when the Strait of Magellan flooded as did the low lying areas of southern Patagonia.


Not much is known about them because they became extinct by the mid 1700s. European disease killed them all.

The Chono lived south of Chiloé island, in Chile, along the coast of the Guaitecas Islands, Taitao Peninsula and the Guayanecos Islands, up to the Gulf of Penas.

They lived in their canoes, the Dalcas. They fished, hunted sea lions and collected shellfish. Their boats were their livelihood.

Dalca: it was built with three to five wooden planks which were sewn together with vegetable fibers. They used the wood of the larch (alerce) tree which they split lengthwise with wedges. The wood was soaked and fired to bend it into shape.

One, kept at the Stockholm Folkens Museum Etnografiska in Sweden measures 4.26 x 1.00 x 0.51 m [13.9 x 3.3 x 1.6 ft.]. Though there are Spanish accounts of canoes carrying 15 oarsmen and measuring 10 meters [32.8 ft.] long. They had a rudder, ribs, benches and sometimes masts.


A "Dalca", made from sewn planks by the Chonos of Chile

The spaces between the planks were caulked with the leaves of a local plant.

The Dalcas have an "astonishing similarity with vessels built by Lapps" (5). We know that they too carried they D4h3a haplogroup (11), but the other Patagonian natives (Mapuche to the north, Tehuelche to the east and the Fuegians to the south, carried it, so it is likely that they did too).


The Cayapa people, of Ecuador, also carry the D4h3a haplogroup (21.67% frequency). They live along the Cayapas river on the Ecuadorian Pacific coast.

cayapa canoe

A Cayapa canoe. From (10).

They made their canoes using the "dugout" technique, hollowing a balsa-wood tree-trunk. They make them nowadays using the same technique. These canoes measure about 4.5 m (14.8 ft) long.


The Chumash of southern California (U.S.) also carry Haplogroup D4h3a (up to 16% frequency). They lived on the mainland and the Channel Islands on the Santa Barbara Channel.

They, like the Chono built a "split-planked" canoe crafted with planks sewn together with cord and the seams were caulked with pitch. (is this a coincidence?). They called them Tomol.

The Gabrielino natives (close by) built identical ones, called te'aat.

The Tomol were light and measured between 12 and 24 feet long. (4 and 8 m). The Chumash also built rafts ("Balsas" in Spanish) from tule reed stalks tied into bundles 10 - 15 ft. long (3 - 5 m) and covered with tar to avoid rotting. They also built dugout canoes 20 - 30 ft. long (7 - 10 m). (9)(8)


We see that the D4h3a tends to have a coastal distribution along the Pacific Ocean from Canada to Tierra del Fuego: Canada, California, Ecuador, Southern Chile and Argentina.

The Yaghan, Alakaluf, Chono, Cayapa, Chumash and the man from On Your Knees Cave, all had this haplogroup.

They all built sea-going craft: rafts, dugout canoes, bark canoes and "sewn plank" canoes.

Other groups also built canoes or rafts; the Changos in Northern Chile, the Pericú, and the Aleuts, though we cannot tell if they also carried this rare haplogroup.

But, as we will see in our next post, it is also found quite far from the Western Coast: as it was detected in ancient remains from the Klunk Mound (Illinois) and in Shandong, China.

Furthermore, the Ainu people of Japan also built "lashed-canoes" -like the Chono and the Chumash (as well as dugouts), and they may have a link with the Amerindians.


(1) Perego, Ugo, A. et al., (2009). Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare mtDNA Haplogroups. Current Biology 19, 1-8, 2009 p. 2 doi 10.1016/j.cub.2008.11.058
(3) Bryson, George, (2008). DNA tracks ancient Alaskan's descendants. Anchorage Daily News, December 28, 2008.
(3) Francisco Torres, et al., (2009), Characterization of Genetic Markers of a Kawésqar Body and the Last Descendants of the Same Ethnic Group., March. 2009
(4) Miotti, L. and M.C.Salemme, (2003). When Patagonia was colonized: people mobility at high latitudes during Pleistocene ⁄ Holocene transition. Quaternary International 109-10, 2003, 95-111, pages 97-98
(5) Vairo, Carlos P. Los Yamana. 1995, Zagier & Urruty
(6) Byron, J., (1996). Naufragio en las costas patagónicas. B. Aires: Ediciones del Sol
(7) FitzRoy, R., (1839). Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836... London: Henry Colburn
(8) Jeanne E. Arnold. Credit Where Credit is Due: The History of the Chumash Oceangoing Plank Canoe. American Antiquity, 72(2), 2007, pp. 196-209
(9) Dee Travis Hudson, (1976). Chumash Canoes of Mission Santa Barbara: the Revolt of 1824. Journal of California Anthropology
(10) Alicia Alonso-Sagaseta de Ilúrdoz. Colecciones de arqueología y etnología de América de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Madrid Editorial Complutense, 2000
(11) See link. Estudio de ADN de pueblo chono revela que desciende de primeros pobladores de América. March 31, 2013

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Slow proto-amerindians

The attempt to justify a late date for the peopling of America has, In my opinion, distorted the data.

For instance, the speed at which humans marched out of Africa seeking new horizons was very variable. They advanced very slowly across Asia and Austronesia but rushed across America.

As you can see, below and in the map further down, there are some very weird "speed" gradients for the advance for the groups that peopled America:

  • It took 50,000 years to get from the first station out of Africa (in the Gulf, i.e. Kuwait) to Australia
  • It took 55,000 years to get from Bangladesh to Beringia
  • It ONLY took 15,000 years to go from Beringia to Tierra del Fuego

But the distances in America are much larger than those in Asia.

In other words they walked slowly all the way to Australia and Beringia and then, suddenly got this internal urge to go more than 3 times faster to cover the Americas.

There is something not quite right here!

  • From Kuwait to Northern Australia it is roughly... 11,000 km (6,840 mi).
  • From Bangladesh to Bering it is: 9,500 km (5.900 mi).
  • From Bering to Tierra del Fuego (along the coast): 18,800 km (11,680 mi).

The relative speeds are therefore:

  • To Australia: 200 m/year (655 feet/year) Roughly two blocks a year.
  • To Beringia: 172 m/year (564 feet/year).
  • To America: 1,200 m/year (3,934 feet/year).

Rushing into America

After reaching Bangladesh, they slowed down on their way to Beringia, and then rushed into America 7.2 times faster than all previous migrations?.

Well, population built up at a higher rate so there were more people able to move, that could explain it. Well, it took 60,000 years to people Europe. Why was America occupied so quickly?.

It does not make sense. Let's work it backwards, from Tierra del Fuego to Beringia at 564 feet/year (172 m/year) would mean that if the Fuegians arrived 12 Kya, then they left Beringia: 18,800 km /0.172 km/year = 109 Kya.

That is a very long time indeed, it means that the Bangladeshis left 109 + 55 Kya = 164 Kya, and those in Kuwait were there some... 194 Kya.

This is reasonable and means that the Out of Africa migrants left long before the date proposed by current theories.

The map (adapted from the Internet):

out of africa

Mankind timeline out of Africa. Copyright © 2014 by Austin Whittall

So instead of the "slow proto-Amerindians" marching slowly across Asia and then, once they are Amerindians, rushing across the New World, I understand all should have marched at the same pace.

The distortions that incorrect theories cause, which should be simplified by accepting the facts and making a better theory (i.e. recall Ptolemaeus and Copernicus)...

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Pericue, Lovelock natives and mummies

This post continues the series that we began with the Kentucky Red-haired Mummy and continued with the Cueva del Gualicho Mummy in Patagonia painted red. Today we will look into more red painted remains (they were painted with ochre, buried in caves neatly wrapped up). All of them are linked and they span the continent from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, to Patagonia next to the Strait of Magellan, passing by Nevada and Baja California in Mexico. And they all involve the first Americans (Paleoamericans of "caucasoid" morphology).

Pericue Indians

Baja California, Mexico, the Pericue natives.

A self-educated ornithologist named Lyman Belding (1829 - 1918), visite the southern part of Baja California during the winter of 1882-83. He wrote about his experiences and, one of his articles, on the Pericue natives is quoted below. (1)

This group of Native Americans (also known as Cora and Edúe) lived on the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula. It was a dead-end 1,300 km (800 mi.) from where the peninsula joins the mainland, a piece of land surrounded by sea on thre sides and the desert on the other.

Their region, "Los Cabos", was hostile, arid, lacking many resources. They wer hunter gatherers as recorded by the Spanish missionaries who ventured into the area. By the mid eighteenth century they had declined in numbers and were absorbed by other ethnic groups.

Their isolation until recent times and their "primitive" ways makes them ideal candidates for being members of the first "wave" that peopled America (Paleoamericans), which did not have the Mongolid type; they were parto of a group which:

"... departed from somewhere in southern Asia and arrived in the Australian continent and the Americas around 40,000 and 12,000 years before present, respectively. Most modern Amerindians are believed to be part of a second, morphologically differentiated migration..." (6)

So this makes Belding's article interesting since he describes their burials: (In bold, are the parts that I have highlighted): (1)

Probably these Indians were never numerous though the Victoria mountains would have supported a large population.
Father Baegut says there were 4,000 Indians in the southern part of the peninsula of Lower California when the missions of Santiago and San Jose del Cabo were destroyed by them in the year 1734, but that they numbered only 400 in 1772 (Chas. Rau, Sm. Rp. 1864 p 384).
It was a prime object with my companion Dr. H. Ten Kate, of the society of anthropology of Paris, and myself as well, to find a living representative of the original Lower Californian, which we probably found on the Rancho San Jacinto, owned by the Vallerino family. But we could get no positive or definitive information concerning this Indian woman, who must have been about seventy-five years old, although from La Paz to Cape San Lucas she was universally reputed to be a pure blooded Indian. She differed widely from the Yaquis and other Indians from the east side of the Gulf, being of good stature, robust form and dark complexion, with a cranium which resembled those found in the caves.
Dr. H. Ten Kate offered to photograph the hacienda and its occupants, hoping by this means to get her photograph, but his diplomacy failed, although backed by our distinguished guide, Don Juan Dios Angoula, who had long been a friend of the family.
We saw three of her children who were good examples of the better class of Mexicans, their father having been a Mexican or Spaniard. This woman is probably the only living pure blooded native south of 24 degrees 30 minutes.
The Indians of Lower California south of 24 degrees 30 minutes buried their dead in caves below shelving rocks, without regard to the points of the compass, usually painting the bones, but how they made the bones clean and ready to be painted is still unknown. At Zorillo we were shown a small cave in a granite rock by our local guide, who said that an Italian collector, several years before, had found bones of a "gentile," the Mexican name for an Indian or heathen.
The sand in the cave was dry, coarse disintegrated granite, about a foot deep. By digging in it I found the well preserved skeleton of an adult male Indian, who was perhaps the last of the Pericues. This skeleton was wrapped in cloth made from the bark of the palm and bound with three ply cord which had been plaited as sailors make sennit, the material being fiber of the agave. Dr. W. H. Dall mentions in the Smithsonian contributions to knowledge, number 318, that the mummies of the Aleutian Islands, were bound with cord quite similarly braided in square sennit.
The package, which was about twenty inches long, did not appear to have been disturbed since burial, although a femur and some small bones were missing, and nearly all of the bones had been unjointed. The bones of the hand were inside of the skull, which was full of small bones and sand. Meanwhile Dr. Ten Kate found the skeleton of a girl about twelve years old. This was also in excellent condition, although differing from those found elsewhere, in not having been painted, a rare exception. For the skeletons found by Dr. Ten Kate on Espiritu Santo Island, at Ensenada and Los Martires, which he kindly allowed me to inspect, had all been painted the usual brick red, with the exception of one the Doctor found at Los Martires which had a skull of very inferior, almost idiotic form.
The few bones we afterwards found in a cave near Candelario and several skeletons found at San Pedro by Dr. H. Ten Kate had also been painted. All of the skulls were of one general form, namely, the pyramidal -- high, long narrow, with wide, prominent cheek bones.
The only ornaments, or other objects of aboriginal handiwork found with the skeletons, were two small, neatly worked, pearl oyster shells, which were in the package of the bones of the young girl found at Zorillo. These shells had been polished on the convex side, the edges finely serrated and pierced at the apex as if to be suspended about the person for ornament.

Remarks on Belding's article

1. Burial

They painted the bones brick red color, and placed them iin caves, wraped in a packages about 20 in. long (50 cm) cloth made from palm bark, bound with three ply plaited cord of agave fiber. Similar to the way the Aleutian islanders disposed of their dead.

Below an image showing an Aleutian mummy:

Aleutian mummy

Aleutian Mummy 1897. ( 7)

We have seen that the Kentucky mummy was wrapped up and so was the Gualicho Cave mummy. Will see that other related people buried their dead in a similar fashion. However, these Pericue remains were not mummies, they were bones, no flesh, no mummification here, just painted bones and skulls. A key difference.

A member of his team found a skull "of a very inferior, almost idiotic form". What does that mean?. The other skulls were pyramidal, high, long narrow and wide with prominent cheek bones. This one must have been "archaic". More below.

2. The "idiotic" skull

This requires a bit of context, at that time, when French surgeon Paul Broca was in vogue, brain size and skull shape were taken to reflect the phsychological and intellectual features of its owner.

Small or light brains (such as women's) were assumed to be less intelligent than the larger and heavier male brains (talk about bigotry and sexism!).

Furthermore, anthropometric measurements soon "proved" that European white people were the superior race. We all know where this led to and the pain caused to mankind by such racist beliefs.

When Belding describes a skull as belonging to an idiot, he means it was a "primitive-shaped" skull, with a receeding - sloping forehead or strong brows, what we would probably call Neanderthal-like.

3. Ochre, Cross Cultural Similarities

Ochre is a natural pigment composed of hydrated iron oxide. Its color spans the full range from brown to yellow (with all the red or orange hues in between).

The use of ochre as a red dye at burials is something common to all humans (and other hominids) across the globe and across the milennia. Some examples:

  • At Lake Mungo, in Australia, ochre dated at 32 Kya has been found. (2)
  • At Qafzeh Cave, (3) dated at 92 Kya (home of hominids with a mosaic of archaic and modern features).
  • Even among non modern humans: It is associated with H. erectus, Neanderthal and various ancient hominid sites (though not necessarily related to burials). (3)
  • At Homo sapiens sites from Sweden to Denmark, to Siberia (the Mal'ta people had ochre), and, as mentioned in my post on the Gualicho Cave mummy, also used in Patagonia.

4. Lovelock skull and Spirit Cave

I posted a few days ago about a skull found at a salt flat close to Lovelock Cave in Nevada, which was described as follows: (4)

"... archaic type which is most often referred to by Georg Neumann's term "Otamid variety".... widely found in early or putatively early contexts and, in later times, in marginal areas... Neumann's type series for the Otamid variety is a small group from the Gulf Coast of Texas representing Karankawa Indians of the historic period. Frequently, also, the Peircue of Baja california are mentioned in this connection, although they are divergent in some features..."

This is interesting, the skull from Lovelock, Nevada is Otamid and the Pericue are also Otamids, but, even more interesting are the remains found at Spirit Cave, also at Lovelock, Nevada. Notice the similarity with the Pericue burial methods:

Spirit Cave Mummy, Lovelock, Nevada

A mummified body of a man was discovered there in 1940. It was dated in 1994 to 10,630 Kya, it had “Caucasoid” features and red hair, but it was buried: wrapped in a finely woven reed mat.(5)

Below is an image of the mummy:

spirit cave mummy

Spirit Cave mummy

Was its hair really red or did it absorb pigmentation from a coating of ochre?

A study to determine which culture it belonged to (8), was not clear: one expert said the "the pigment granules in your sample are brown", and said it was a body of a Caucasian. Another said "...dark reddish-brown hairs" and said they were of an Asian. The third expert said "dark brown" and of a Northern Asian or Native American.

Not one said the hair was red!, but brown, and they said it belonged to Asians or Native Americans (2 out of 3), but we know that these groups have black hair. I have not seen a brown haired North Asian or Amerindian. So I am a bit surprised.

Anyway, if expected to determine if a mummy is Native American and it was found in Nevada and is 10 kya. Wouldn't you find its brown hair Asian or Native American?.


Summary: Pericue, from Baja California, Mexico are Otamids like the Lovelock, Nevada natives. Both wrap their dead in vegetable fibre mats (palm in the case of Pericues, reeds in the case of Lovelock), tied with plaited cords. The bones were painted with ochre. Pericue are presumed to belong to the first wave into America.

They were also seamen, with rafts and this links them to the Aleutians (who buried their dead in a similar way), to Fuegians and to other South American groups who also share an odd genetic trait. But that is another post.


(1) Lyman Belding, (1885). The Pericue Indians, The West American Scientist, San Diego, Ca. Vol 1. No. 4 pp. 21. March 1885.
(2) Lake Mungo (
(3) More information on Ochre and archaeological sites
(4) Reed E., (1967). An Unusual Human Skull from near Lovelock, Nevada, University of Utah Press. Miscellaneous Collected Papers, No.18.
(5) Ellis B., Damadio, S., (2000).Determination of cultural affiliation of ancient human remains from Spirit Cave. Nevada. Bureau of Land Management Nevada State Office.
(6) González-José, Rolando, et al,. (2003). Craniometric evidence for Palaeoamerican survival in Baja California. Nature 425:62-65.
(7 ) Aleutian Mummy 1897. Drawing of a Mummy
(8) Barker, C Ellis, S. Damadio, (2000). Determination of cultural affiliation of ancient human remains from Spirit Cave. Nevada P Bureau of Land Management Nevada State Office.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

An Early Peopling of America (Part II)

An Early Peopling of America
This is the second part of an essay which summarizes in a neat way many things that I have posted on my blog.

Click here for Part I

An Early Peopling of America (Part II)

Austin V. Whittall


The argument used against an ancient peopling of America -before c. 25 thousand years ago (Kya)- is that there were no modern humans in Northeastern Siberia at that time ready to cross Beringia and enter North America.
Another claim is that only then, during the final period of the Wisconsin glaciations, had modern humans acquired the know-how to be able to survive in such a hostile environment and that the sea level had dropped enough to allow entry.
However archaeological remains dating >30 Kya in the Americas and the in depth sequencing of modern and archaic genomes open up the possibility that the first human occupant of the New World may have been either Homo erectus or H. Neanderthalensis.
This overview will present the case for an early peopling of America by these hominids and a later admixture in America with modern H. sapiens, which defined the particular genetic lineages of the New World.

Genetic Evidence

Several genetic markers are found in America, Europe and Western Asia but are absent in Eastern Asia, the purported ancestral homeland of Amerindians, this supports the notion that the modern humans who initially peopled America were very different from the current inhabitants of Eastern Asia. Later migratory waves added East Asian elements to the original American population.

Furthermore, many genetic traits admixed from primitive hominids are found at the highest global frequencies in America, which would be the expected consequence if admixture had taken place in the Americas.

Bottlenecks and founder effects

Statistical analysis attributes the current lack of genetic diversity in the Americas to founder effects: Small founding populations in the initial peopling of the continent. These tiny groups purportedly contributed a large fraction of the ancestry of all contemporary Native Americans.

These studies overlook a unique situation which did not occur in other parts of the Old World: European discovery and conquest after 1492 AD provoked a massive eradication of native populations. This decreased the Amerindian gene pools dramatically (to between 33% and 4% of their original sizes). Over 80 M people died due to war and, mostly, microbia (measles, influenza, smallpox). Selective pressure acted to favor those better equipped to face the new environment.

It was this combination of disease and war-caused bottleneck plus natural selection that distorted the pre-Hispanic gene-frequency distribution obliterating genetic lineages, and obscuring ancestral frequency patterns. The pre-Hispanic genetic map of America was different and may have been much richer (i.e. similar to that of Asia or Austronesia). Studies that analyze gene frequencies in the New World do not seem to bear this in mind (1).

Common traits of East Asians and Native Americans

Some East Asian genetic markers are found in moderate frequencies among Amerindians. These could have entered the original American gene pool either recently during later peopling waves or, introgressed from archaic hominid populations that admixed with the H. sapiens that would become East Asians and Native Americans.

A remark on Northern North American natives (Aleuts, Na-Dene and Inuit). These groups share several traits with West Beringian populations suggesting a recent arrival in North America. Furthermore genetic analysis indicates that they cluster together in a distinct separate branch from all other Amerindian people (2).

Dental Shoveling

Dental shoveling appears in the earliest hominids and is found in Australopithecus, Neanderthal, H. erectus (3) and the Dmanisi hominins from Georgia, Caucasus (4). Modern humans are divided into two distinct regions with a global east-west gradient of decreasing shoveling. People belonging to Mongoloid groups (North Eastern Asians and, partially, American Indians) have the highest frequency of shoveled incisors while the rest of the world has chiseled ones (5).

This global cline is best explained by the replacement of H. erectus in west Eurasia by modern humans and their assimilation by admixture in East Asia (6).

Shoveling is caused by the Ectodysplasin receptor gene (EDAR), also associated with hair thickness and the size and quantity of sweat and mammary glands. It is frequent in Asian populations and absent in Europeans, Africans, Denisovans and the Mal'ta remains (more o Mal'ta below) who carry the ancestral allele (7)(8)(9). The mutation or introgression (admixed through direct contact with H. erectus) is believed to have appeared in central China >30 Kya (10)(11), a late date in our opinion since it was obtained by simulations restrained by a 15 Kya date for peopling America.

Os Inca

The archaic looking skull from Lovelock cave, Nevada, besides a Neanderthal-like occipital torus and prominent brow-ridge also exhibited another ancient trait: Os Inca (12). This morphological feature is found in fossil hominids (Australopithecus, Homo erectus, and archaic H. sapiens) and is very frequent in fossil and modern Chinese populations. Infrequent among Europeans and North East Asians (1.5 - 2%) it is quite common among North American Natives (6.5%), East Asians and Sub Saharan Africans (4.5%) (13).

Strong presence of Neanderthal admixture in America

Both of the preceding traits, shoveled incisors and Os Inca with specific geographical location in China and America could denote two separate admixture events in each of those regions. We rule out an East Asian admixture and later migration of admixed populations into America because other Chinese traits are absent in the New World and certain archaic features found in America are absent in East Asia indicating no outflow of those traits back towards Eastern Asia.

Furthermore, introgression may not only be due only to H. erectus, but also to Neanderthals who moved east from Central Asia expanding into China during MIS 3 times -29 to 58 Kya.(14), as attested by a high presence of Neanderthal ancestry in Eastern Asians (15) and even higher among Amerindians as suggested by the genome sequence of an Altai Mountain Neanderthal (16) and a PCA analysis (17).

Evidence from different genetic markers

B006 (ds44 gene)

B006 is the least derived haplotype of X chromosome’s dystrophin gene (ds44) and it is found in Neanderthals and modern non-African humans suggesting admixture between both groups after modern humans left Africa (18)(19). This admixture should have taken place in the contact zone between Neanderthals and the humans leaving Africa: Levant, Caucasus and Europe. If so, the highest frequencies of B006 should appear in these areas and drop off as the populations moved out of that region and admixed with other human groups. However this is not reflected in the global distribution of B006. Although there is a high frequency of the haplotype in the Neanderthal homeland of Western Eurasia and the Indus region (19)(20), America has the highest global value for this haplotype. This suggests a “significant presence of Neanderthal lineages in the Americas” (21), prevalence which can be most parsimoniously explained if the Neanderthal gene flow took place in America. There is a minor “hot-spot” on Western Beringia which may indicate an “Out of America” migration as suggested by some authors (22).

It is argued that American preponderance of B006 haplotype and the loss of other haplotypes (B002, B008 and B005) is due to a major population bottleneck during the peopling of the Americas (23)(18). We propose instead a Post-Hispanic bottleneck that obliterated those haplotypes.

SLC16A11 gene

This gene’s “risk” haplotype is a common risk factor for type 2 diabetes among Native Americans, and is present among them at a ~50% frequency while only ~10% of east Asians carry it. The Neanderthal from Denisova cave carried the mutated gene which is rare among Europeans and Africans, suggesting that it introgressed into modern humans in Asia (24) or, assuming admixture in the region of highest frequency, in America and from there it may have back-migrated to East Asia (22).


The NE1 allele of APOBEC3G (a gene which may be related to anti-viral immunity) displays a strong cline from America to the rest of the world. It is found in two very divergent haplogroups (25):

  • NE1 "aligned with the Neanderthal haplotype" absent in Africa and most Asians and found at mid frequencies in Europeans and Indians ~20% (strikingly similar to Neanderthal B006 distribution). Once again, American Indians present the highest global frequencies (~30%).
  • Non-NE1, which aligns with the chimpanzee haplotype and is therefore the ancestral type; it is found in all populations, being highest in Africa (75 - 100%) and Eastern Asia (~75%). In Europe and America its frequency much lower: roughly 33%. This echoes the basal human signature common to all populations.

As with B006 and SLC16A11 gene, the highest global prevalence of NE1 is found among Native Americans, suggesting, again, that the Neanderthal – Modern human introgression occurred in America.

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system

HLA are the loci of genes which encode for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in humans and as such have an important role in the immune system.

Ten Neanderthal HLA class I alleles have been found among humans: A*02, A*26, A*66, B*51:01/08, B*07:02/03/06, C*16:02, C*07:02.

Of these, two are found among Native Americans: The paired alleles A*02 and C*07:02. While their average global frequency is ~2% , the highest global frequency occurs among the Yucpa of Venezuela (26.9%), followed by Navajo, US (13.1%) and Lisu, Yunan, China (10.4%).

The high frequency in America and China is consonant with the high proportion of Neanderthal admixture in those regions. (15). Other allele pairs are found in Asia but not in America, suggesting different populations of Neanderthals as sources of the introgression. The highest global value for HLA-C*07:02 is also found among the Yucpas (71.4%).(26)

The non-Neanderthal Amerindian HLA harbors a great diversity and is markedly different from that of the rest of the world; it clusters separately from all other global populations (especially Asians and, as expected, North American Na-Dene and Inuit)(27)(28).

The High mortality during the European-Amerindian contact period in the 1500s shows that Amerindians carried many unique HLA clades, different to Eurasian lineages and ill-equipped to cope with Old World disease. These became extinct. Current clades are those that were better adapted, among which are the archaic Neanderthal HLAs.

Amerindian HLA diversity could have been caused by:

  1. A very long Amerindian isolation.
  2. An autochthonous Amerindian origin.

The first option is not concordant with the theory that present day Amerindians came recently from Siberia through Beringia, however it could mean a long period of isolation in America of the original population that carried those HLA clades: the Neanderthals.

The second option would imply a modified version of the multiregional origin of humans (27)(22), which after admixing in America with more archaic hominids, back-migrated into Eurasia.

Blood groups

Amerindians and Neanderthals also share a very high frequency of O blood group.

Most human populations except Native Americans carry all major ABO blood alleles. Amerindians belong almost exclusively to the O group (85.5% in North America and 90.9% in South America versus. a global average of 69.2%).

There are a large variety of O haplotypes in America, such as the widespread and uniquely Amerindian mutation O1v(G542A) assumed to have emerged in Beringia as a founder effect (29)(30).

The ample distribution of O1v(G542A) could also be explained by admixture with a Neanderthal population carrying the allele, which arose promoted by the selective advantage of conferring resistance against the infectious diseases of the New World (31). On the other hand, the alleged "cradle" of Amerindians, Eastern Asia has the highest global frequency for type B blood allele. America, as expected has the lowest, mostly among in Western Alaska due to recent East Asian admixture.

Earwax (ABC11 gene)

There are two varieties of cerumen (ear wax) among humans: dry and wet. Dry is highly common (96%) in Eastern Asia (China, Mongolia and Korea), and among North American Na-Dene and Inuit (70 - 43%), once again suggesting their recent arrival in America.

The Wet wax, believed to be the ancestral form, predominates in the rest of the world: among Denisovans (8), among Africans and Europeans (100% frequency) and among Amerindians (96%) (32); being lowest among those who received a recent (<6 Kya) trans-Pacific genetic influx of Y hgC3* from East Asia (33).

This gene indicates that the original peopling of America by modern humans occurred before the development of this mutation among East Asian Mongoloid groups. This is also attested by craniological interpretation (34): “Caucasoid” shaped skulls found in America differing from the East Asian cranial morphology and “Americanoid” skulls described for Siberia and Central Asia (33)(35)(7):

Mal'ta genetic sequence

The genome sequenced from a 24 Kya H. sapiens (named MA-1) from Mal'ta in south-central Siberia suggests that between 14 to 38% of Native American autosomal ancestry originated through a gene flow from this population.

MA-1 is closer to contemporary Native Americans than to Northeast Asians suggesting that those groups may have originated in secondary wave(s) of immigrants from East Asia (7), or that back-migrations from America dispersed other lineages in Central and Western Eurasia (22).

MA-1 has distinct differences that set it apart from Native Americans: it lacks shoveled incisors (supporting a possible introgression of this gene in America), and its nuclear and mtDNA haplogroups (hg) are different; its:

  • Y chromosome is hg R; frequent in Western Eurasia and India but much younger than the hg Q present at very high frequencies all across America and in a limited region in Northern Central Siberia.
  • mtDNA is hg U, which is not found in America or East and South Asia and is very frequent in Western Eurasia, India and North Africa.

Nevertheless, Ma-1’s estimated shared drift statistic, (f3), places Amerindians closest to Northern Europeans and Northern - Central and Western Siberians, and furthest apart from Eastern Siberians and Asians. Possibly indicating a common Neanderthal background, which could explain the European signature found in pre-Hispanic Amerindians (i.e. Kennewick man).

Diego blood group

The Diego blood group system is absent among Africans, Australian aborigines, almost all Asians, and all Europeans. It is essentially a Mongolian feature although it is not present in all populations:

  • East Asians: its frequencies range from 2% to 8%
  • Amerindians: highly variable values between 0% and 50% (36)

It is absent or found at very low frequencies among Na-Dene and Inuit in northern North America and among the Waica, Warrau-Guayo and Yaruro of South America (37). Among the Andean Native Americans it has a North-South decreasing cline.

The distribution pattern suggests that the original inhabitants belonged to the first wave to people the New World, which lacked the Diego allele and which were later overrun by a wave of Diego-positive groups (38). These first comers could be of Eurasian origin (Neanderthals) and the other wave(s) including those in Northern North America had a strong East Asian component.

Microsatellite Locus D9S1120

There is a unique allele (also known as GATA81C04 or GATA11E11) not found anywhere else in the world which is present in all American populations (and some Western Beringian groups - perhaps due to back-migration out of America) at an average frequency of 31.7%, which is not found anywhere else in the world. (39)

This is probably an ancient Neanderthal signature shared by admixture with later arrivals in America. Its high variability from 10% among the Seri to 97.1% among the Surui possibly reflect genetic drift.

Eye pigmentation
Blue eye gene (the derived G allele of SNP rs12913832) is found at ratios of 15 to 29% in South America, although it does not express blue eyes in Amerindians. It is virtually absent in North America and Eastern Asia. It reappears in Central Asia and Europe (40). It is believed to be a recent Neolithic mutation c. 6 - 10 Kya, originated in the north of the Black Sea (41).

However, based on its extended global distribution pattern we differ and propose instead an archaic origin for this gene. Eye pigmentation and skin pigmentation are closely related. Pale skin pigmentation especially for groups inhabiting high latitudes was selected for to allow sunlight absorption necessary for vitamin D synthesis. It is likely a Neanderthal trait since it highest frequencies coincide with the areas where other Neanderthal genes are most frequent. Nevertheless it has not been reported in their genome sequences.

Closely related Oculocutaneous albinism II (OCA2) gene shows the opposite trend, with high frequencies of the derived His615Arg allele in Eastern Asia (49-63%) and nil presence in the rest of the world.


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(28) Arrieta-Bolaños E., Madrigal J. and Shaw B., (2012). Human Leukocyte Antigen Profiles of Latin American Populations: Differential Admixture and Its Potential Impact on Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation. Bone Marrow Research. Volume 2012, Article ID 136087, doi:10.1155/2012/136087
(29) Estrada-Mena B., Estrada F., et al. (2009). Blood Group O Alleles In Native Americans: Implications In The Peopling Of The Americas. American Journal of Physical Anthropology; 142(1): 85 - 94
(30) Villasnea F., (2010). Evolution of the ABO Blood group locus in Pre-Columbian Native Americans.
(31) Lalueza-Fox C., Gigli E., et al., (2008) Genetic characterization of the ABO blood group in Neandertals BMC Evolutionary Biology 2008, 8:342
(32) Yoshiura K., et al, (2006). A SNP in the ABCC11 gene is the determinant of human earwax type Nature Genetics 38, 324 - 330 (2006) 29 Jan 2006 doi:10.1038/ng1733
(33) Roewer L., et al., (2013). Continent-wide decoupling of Y-chromosomal genetic variation from language and geography in native South Americans. PLoS Genet. 2013 Apr;9(4):e1003460. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003460. 2013 Apr 11.
(34) Hubbe M., Harvati K. and Neves W, (2011). Paleoamerican Morphology in the Context of European and East Asian Late Pleistocene Variation: Implications for human Dispersion into the New World. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 144 (3): 442-453
(35) Schurr T. and Pipes L., (2011). The prehistory of Mongolian populations: Evidence from cranio-facial, dental trait and genetic studies. In Mapping Mongolia: Situating Mongolia in the World from Geologic Time to the Present. Pp. 134-165. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum Press
(36) Junqueira P., and Castilho L., (2002). The history of the Diego blood group. Rev. Bras. Hematol. Hemoter. 24:1 São José do Rio Preto Mar. 2002. doi: 10.1590/S1516-84842002000100004
(37) Comas J., (1965). Significado de la presencia del antígeno Diego entre los Amerindios. Anales de Antropologia, Univ. Autonoma de Mexico. Vol II, 1965 pp. 90+
(38) Best W., Laryrisse M., and Bermejo R., Blood Group Antigens in Aymara and Quechua Speaking Tribes from Near Auno, Peru, pp .321+
(39) Schroeder K., Schurr T., et al., (2007). A private allele ubiquitous in the Americas. Biol Lett. 2007 April 22; 3(2): 218–223. 2007 Feb 2013. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0609. PMCID: PMC2375964
(40) Osier MV, Cheung KH, Kidd JR, Pakstis AJ, Miller PL, Kidd KK. "ALFRED: an allele frequency database for Anthropology." Am J Phys Anthropol. 119:77-83. (2002)
(41) Cavalli-Sforza L., Menozzi P. and Piazza A., (1994). The History and geography of Human genes. Princeton University Press, Princeton

© 09.January.2014. Austin V. Whittall

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Patagonian Mummy Cueva del Gualicho

In my previous post on the mummy found by Samuel Mitchill in a cave in Kentucky in 1815, I pointed out that it was "a red-haired mummy in Kentucky. Buried in a cave wrapped in several liners, including feathers and squatting". The red hair is quite uncommon among Native Americans, but, I wonder... could it be due to the ochre with which many Amerindian corpses were painted prior to burial? in other words, a red pigment (ochre) dyed their hair?.

In any case, lets follow the data and see what we can find. Today: Patagonia, a squatting mummy with a feather and ochre.

The Mummy of Cueva del Gualicho

In South America, the Patagonian Paleo Indian natives buried their dead using ochre (a red pigment). Half a world away from Kentucky a mummy was discovered in 1877 by Argentine explorer and scientist, Francisco Pascasio Moreno. He was exploring unknown territory in Southern Patagonia, following the Santa Cruz river to its sources: at a lake which he named Lake Argentino. He trekked along the coast as the lake was really choppy due to the prevailing westerly winds and came across a hill on a promontory where, in a cave which he named "Cueva del Gualicho" (more on Gualicho and a previous post on the cave's rock art), alluding a native myth regarding evil spirits (Gualicho also Walichu).

In summer of 1877 (February in the Southern Hemisphere), Moreno came across a mummy at Cueva del Gualicho, close to what is now the town of El Calafate in southwestern Patagonia. His description of the discovery: (2)

"... in a small cave with figures painted on its walls, 8 meters wide by three deep [25 x 9 ft.] and a decreasing height that is only 20 cm in the back part [8 in.] , I find after digging where my common sense told me to, to my delight, a human body, painted red, in a similar position to those found in Peru; this one is in fairly good shape, because the body was buried wrapped in ostrich [actually, South American rhea, or ñandú] hides and then covered with grass and soil, from which I pick up two stone knives and an arrowhead of the same material. This interesting mummy has the hair cut nearly at its roots, and this together with the red paint with which the body had been covered alive, or after dead, makes me wonder if it may belong to a Fueguian of those that inhabited the Strait of Magellan in the times of Gamboa. [Sarmiento de Gamboa, Spanish explorer of the 1570's AD]".

We will see that Moreno was right on the mark with the Fuegian origin of this mummy.

So here we have a Mummy, in foetal position, wrapped in hides and painted red

Moreno would later write that it belonged to a distinct group different to the contemporary Tehuelche - Aonikenk groups of that area.

The mummy, unlike the one found by Mitchell in a Kentucky cave (see my post on that Red haired mummy), did not have a vest with feathers, instead it had one large condor feather across its chest, as can be seen in the drawing of the mummy:

Cueva del Gualicho mummy
Cueva del Gualicho Mummy. From (1)


Moreno wrote: "between that arm [the left one] and the body, crosses a lovely black condor feather which has also been painted". It is interesting to point out that they painted the feather red too.

Regarding Moreno's reference to Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, he was sent, in 1579 by the Viceroy of Peru to settle the Strait of Magellan to avert the possibility of the English occupying the region. Sarmiento’s wrote about "Giants" (the Tehuelche patagonians). He carried out his mission and founded two settlements, But lack food and harsh local conditions doomed both of Sarmiento’s fledgling settlements; their fate was sealed when provisions sent from Spain failed to arrive; nearly all of the settlers starved or froze to death. When English privateer Sir Thomas Cavendish landed at one of the villages in 1587 he found a handful of survivors, and appropriately renamed it Port Famine.

Anyway, Sarmiento de Gamboa actually mentions the locals, but it does not coincide with Moreno's comment:

Sarmiento de Gamboa mentions in his account (page xvii) (3) that the natives painted their face in "red and white"... but no reference to short cut hair. Actually they wore it long but they bundled it.

As a summary: foetal positioned mummy, with feathers, ochre painted. In southern Patagonia. And wrapped in layers of local ostrich hides.. Not red haired though, but very similar to the Kentucky mummy. mtDNA will show further similarities, but that is another post.


(1) Echeverría Baleta, Mario , (1995). La Momia del Cerro Gualicho, Cumacú, B. Aires. pp. 31. I took the snapshot from my book.
(2) Moreno, F., (2007). Exploración de la Patagonia Sur II: el lago Argentino y los Andes meridionales. 1877. B. Aires: Continente. pp. 101.
(3)Sarmiento de Gamboa, P., (1768). Viaje al Estrecho de Magallanes por el Capitán Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa en los años de 1579 y 1580… Madrid: Imprenta Real de la Gazeta. Pp 205 and plates.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Red Haired Paleo Indian in the US

Red haired people are quite odd among the Native Americans, and after reading about the mummy from Lovelock Nevada, I decided to check online what else had been found. And I came across quite a bit of information, that I tied in with other things that I had read in the past. The outcome is a series of posts beginning with this one (it was too long to put in one post):

First we will go East, to the Eastern U.S. seaboard. Then we will go back to the West Coast and tie in Lovelock with other natives in that area. We will go down the Pacific coast to South America and Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia and try to see how all these places are linked by "red" hair and bones and common burial practices and a similar mtDNA.

An article from a 1815 Magazine

The article, is from Analetic Magazine, Philadelphia. Page 260 of the Vol 6. Series 33. And I have copied some key phrases (read the article following the previous link and go to page 260), which is inserted below:


The letter was written by a Mr. Samuel L. Mitchill in August 1815 describing a mummy he found in a cave in Kentucky, U.S. Which was the remains of a young man whose: "scalp, with small exceptions, is covered with sorrel or foxy hair.".

Now the word Sorrel is new for me, so I looked it up, and found out that it is used to describe the coat color of horses. It is usually used to refer to a copper-red shade of chestnut or, directly, chestnut. It is applied to any "reddish" horse coat. The word derives from the flowers of the sorrel herb (see photo below).

sorrel flower

The body was wrapped in deer skins and a "cloth" of knotted twine not made on a loom. The innermost cover was also a cloth and had feathers. The body was in a squatting position with one arm forward.

The mummy in a foetal or squatting position is not uncommon among South American natives, and the "feathers" rung a bell in my mind, I had read about a mummy, with feathers, in a squatting position... in Patagonia, but that is part of my next post.

So we have a red-haired mummy in Kentucky. Buried in a cave wrapped in several liners, including feathers and squatting.

I have not found any references regarding where this mummy is stored. In which museum. Was it dated? analysed? returned for burial?

I am aware that a red haired native on the East coast will elicit comments about a European transatlantic crossing (Solutreans and Cro Magnons peopling America long before Asians entered America via Beringia. But the fact is that Asians did enter the New World, the point is that they were not the current people of Eastern Asia (no Han Chinese here), they were earlier people, maybe even Neanderthals.

Next post, the Mummy at Cueva del Gualicho, Patagonia.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

An Early Peopling of America (Part I)

An Early Peopling of America
This is an essay (It is not scholarly enough to be a "paper), which summarizes in a neat way many things that I have posted on my blog.
In Part II, coming soon, I look into the genetics of the peopling of America and try to build a case for early entry and admixture between modern humans and Neanderthals / H. erectus.

An Early Peopling of America (Part I)

Austin V. Whittall


The argument used against an ancient peopling of America -before c. 25 thousand years ago (Kya)- is that there were no modern humans in Northeastern Siberia at that time ready to cross Beringia and enter North America.
Another claim is that only then, during the final period of the Wisconsin glaciations, had modern humans acquired the know-how to be able to survive in such a hostile environment and that the sea level had dropped enough to allow entry.
However archaeological remains dating >30 Kya in the Americas and the in depth sequencing of modern and archaic genomes open up the possibility that the first human occupant of the New World may have been either Homo erectus or H. Neanderthalensis.
This overview will present the case for an early peopling of America by these hominids and a later admixture in America with modern H. sapiens, which defined the particular genetic lineages of the New World.

Ancient hominids in Siberia

There is ample evidence of pre-sapiens hominids in Siberia and north East Asia who had mastered the techniques necessary to survive in that environment and could have entered America long before the 25 Kya “entry window period”.

Denisova Cave in Central Siberia site displays cultural sequences dating from 282.0 +⁄- 56.0 Kya to roughly 9.8 Kya, (1)(2) associated to both Neanderthals and the recently discovered Denisovans.

Further east the Diring Yuriakh site on Lena River has provided lithic elements dated to 260 Kya (3), probably fashioned by H. erectus or Denisovans.

Northern China is well known for H. erectus sites and remains from the Longlin cave in Guangxi and Malu cave in Yunnan China belonging to the “Red deer people” suggest that archaic hominids which display a mosaic of primitive and modern traits lived there 11.5 Kya (4); suggesting also admixture in China. An archaic skullcap from Salkit in Northeast Mongolia is also a mosaic of modern and archaic, similar to Neanderthals and Chinese Homo erectus yet has been dated to 12.6 Kya (34). These findings suggest a long history of archaic humans in Northeastern Asia.

Could these primitive Siberian Hominids migrate into America?

This question was posed by Argentine Anthropologist Juan Schobinger: “If relatively recent Homo erectus adapted to the cold winters of Northern China and Manchuria, why couldn't they advance along the North Pacific coast and enter -just like the fauna did- the American continent at any time during the last 400 thousand years?” (5).

The Beringia land route used by the fauna and later by modern humans was only open when the sea level dropped at the height of the glaciations. Warmer interglacial periods submerged that route and, would have required sailing across a short stretch of sea between Asia and America.

The Wisconsin glaciations (12 – 110 Kya), were one of many that occurred during the last half million years. The others glacial events are: Illinoian 120-200 Kya and Pre-Illinoian 300/380 - 455 Kya.

Regarding fauna migration, an ancestor of both black and brown bears colonized the Siberian steppe about 3.5 Mya. Shortly after that, the black bears migrated into America across Beringia. They were followed by the brown bears 300 Kya (6).

In an inverse path across Beringia, woolly mammoths from the New World colonized Eurasia 60 Kya (7). The cave lion ancestor of the American lion (puma) entered America through Beringia during the second-last (Illinoian) glaciations between 130 and 300 Kya.

If animals could cope with the harsh Beringian environment, an intelligent hominid such as H. erectus could do so too. H. erectus had adapted well to the extreme cold conditions of northern China and lived there for hundreds of thousands of years. They exploited the environment and used fire (8)(9) and perhaps clothing to deal with the cold. It is therefore possible that they could have crossed Beringia and entered America either by walking or, as suggested by recent evidence, sailing, during a warm interglacial period (10). Neanderthals, whose remains have been found in Western and Central Asia, were equally well adapted to the glacial conditions of Northern Eurasia.

Evidence of Archaic Humans in America

1. Ancient sites in America

Cobble assemblages with pebble and chopper tools similar to those found in Eurasian Pleistocene sites of Mid-Wisconsinan age (over 25 Kya) have been found in Alberta, Canada (Silver Springs, Grimshaw and Varsity Estates) (11)(12); however they have been contested as geofacts (13).

In South America tools from Malone, Lapa do Caboclo, Eduardo and Poseidon shelters in Brazil have been dated by TL and EPR methods to 41 - 60 Kya (14). Tools 22 Kya have been recovered from Toca da Tira Peia, Brazil (15). Arroyo Vizcaíno site in Uruguay has yielded stone tools and bones with man-made cut marks 27-30 Kya (16).

Bifacial axes similar to the Levalloisian, Mousterian and Clactonian industries, >35 Kya were reported in Cuba (17)(18). The Burnham site in Oklahoma, US, has bison bones associated with stone tools and radiocarbon dates of 35 to 42.5 rcybp (19).

Even older sites such as Valsequillo, Mexico and Calico Mountains, US, have produced lithic implements that have been dated to 80 - 220 Kya and 70 - 100 Kya respectively, generating controversy regarding their human or natural origin (20)(21)(22).

The paucity of such sites and associated archaic lithic industries in the Americas suggests that archaeologists pass over evidence that does not fit within the accepted framework of a late peopling of the contient as the last step of an Out Of Africa migration.

This oversight is not due to negligence or lack of knowledge, we assign it to training: if, under current theories such assemblages are not expected in America, then they are not sought for, or if encountered, are not identified at all.

2. Robust or Archaic crania

It is claimed that no remains of H. erectus or Neanderthal have been discovered in America; however crania with archaic features have been found but dismissed as belonging to modern humans.

A superciliary arch found at Lake Chapala site in Guadalajara, Mexico of notable “thickness and robustness are comparable to those of KNM-ER 3733 (African Homo erectus)… the brow is more like that of Zhoukoudian Skull XI (Asian Homo erectus)… the remains were mineralized and recovered with Pleistocene-age fauna” (23).

The “Loess Man” site close to Omaha, Nebraska, US, discovered in 1896 produced skulls with pronounced brow ridges of “Neanderthal type”, but they were dismissed as belonging to recent Native Americans (24).

A cranium discovered in the Paiute region of Nevada, US, at Lovelock Cave displayed: “Unusual features… prominent brow ridge… low retreating forehead… os inca… exceptionally developed occipital torus…”(25). The occipital torus or bun is a characteristic feature of Neanderthals, whereas it is very rare among modern humans. In part 2 of this paper we will review these archaic features.

Redheaded Paleo-Indians, Neanderthals?

At Spirit Cave, also in Lovelock, a mummified body of a man was recovered in 1940. Dated in 1994 to 10,630 Kya., its unusual “Caucasoid” features and red hair are quite unlike those of current Paiute natives, the Native Americans that peopled the area in historic times (26).

A book written in 1883 by a Paiute records that they: exterminated a “small tribe of barbarians” known as “people-eaters” who waylaid them to “kill and eat them”. These people “had reddish hair” from which the Paiute later made garments (27).

Red hair is very infrequent among Amerindians and Mongoloids, but, apparently could be a Neanderthal trait since they had the MC1R gene (melanocortin 1 receptor) associated with red hair in humans (28).

Remains that cannot be assigned to the typical East Asian morphology have been ascribed to Caucasoids (29), African Blacks (30), and other populations (31)(32) that may have peopled the continent before the arrival of Mongoloids groups via Beringia. Surprisingly the first Spanish Chronicles during the conquest of Meso-America, the Caribbean and Northwestern South America report Negroids (30). These distinct morphologies could be attributed to admixture with pre-sapiens hominids.

3. Lice

Humans are infested by three types of head louse (Pediculus humanus). One of them has a global distribution (Type A), while the other is only found in North America and Europe (Type B). The third type is very rare and found only in Nepal and Ethiopia.

Genetic analysis shows that type A an B diverged from each other about 1.2 Ma. Type B has been thought to have evolved separately in America and brought back to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century. American Type B louse is believed to be the original Homo erectus’ lice strain, that accompanied these hominids when they left Africa for Asia 1.2 Ma. They evolved isolated into a new variety, while the original strain that remained in Africa became Type A.

About 1.1 million years later Homo sapiens left Africa, moving out with their own Type A lice. When modern humans and ancient H. erectus met in Asia the primeval louse lineage (Type B) jumped from erectus to sapiens, infesting modern man who took the ancient Type B louse with them into America. The lice remained isolated from the rest of mankind until the arrival of Europeans.

Homo erectus died out in Asia and its Type B lice with them, removing them from further contact with humans in Eurasia and Africa (33).

We understand that this interpretation is flawed as it does not account for the lack of infestation with Type B variety in modern humans who remained in Asia.

A more plausible explanation is that Homo erectus had moved out on into America with its Type B lice and by the time humans reached Asia erectus had died out in there. Erectus had taken its Type B into America, effectively isolating them from all modern Old World humans. Infestation took place in America, when humans migrated to the New World and encountered H. erectus and its Type B lice.

(Continued in Part II


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© 09.January.2014. Austin V. Whittall

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 
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