Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

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Austin Whittall

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ancient migrants into America Hg M

mtDNA extracted from the remains of two individuals found in a burial near China Lake in British Columbia, Canada, were analysed and, found to belong to haplogroup M (hg M), which has not yet been found among any extant Native American.

The bodies belonged to two related persons (they were buried in the same grave roughly 5,000 years ago, or, to be precise: the radiocarbon date was 4,950+/-170 years BP,

Haplogroup M (hg M) is very common in Asia, but unheard of among modern Amerindians. The descendants of those carrying it in prehistoric times must have all died out without any of them surviving till now.

This means that the "genetic diversity" of the Americas is much greater than previously thought (only five haplogroups: A, B, C, D and X have been found among extant natives).

They belonged to hg M but not to hg M7, M8, M9 or G.

Haplogroup M

Hg M is one of the oldest lineages, it arose from L3 (at least this is what the theory says), the ancestral group that left Africa and moved into Asia, splitting there into Hg M and Hg N, from which all non-African haplogroups later evolved.

Hg M and its is found at its highest frequencies in Asia, averaging (among all lineages about 70%).

The "pure M haplogroup accounts for roughl 60% of Indian mtDNA, nearly 50% of Southern Pakistani's and roughly 25% of Sabah (Borneo), Thailandese and Han Chinese. ForMongoliands, Uzbeks, Japanese, Papuans, Aboriginal Taiwanese it is about 12%. In Eastern Siberia it is neglibigle.

Being so prevalent in India, where it is deep and ancient (about 50 ky old) with many lineages, it is likely that it arose in the subcontinent.

Of course there are some sublineages in East Africa (M1, M23) probably due to back-migrations from Asia. This is supported by the recently discovered presence of Neanderthal DNA in East Africans (there were no Neanderthals in Africa to admix with humans there). So this indicates an Asia to Africa introgression of humans with Neanderthal genes in them, which admixed with the local Africans. M1 probably got into Africa with the same migration.

As can be seen in the map below it also spans Central, Southern and parts of Eastern Siberia. Its "offspring" include younger haplogroups (not depicted in the map): Z (Chinese and Hazara), G (North Eastern Siberia), E (Borneo and Taiwan), Q (New Guinea) and both C and D found in Asia and, also in America.

Haplogroup M global distribution.. Copyright © 20143 by Austin Whittall

Malhi and his team make a very interesting comment:

"Using genetic data from contemporary populations to infer early prehistoric demographic events is even less accurate when population history has been variable over time..." [1]

This is specially true for America, where millions of natives were exterminated by disease and war after the arrival of Europeans in the late 1400s. Whole lineages may have disappeared without a trace. We are looking at the remains of a decimated group of humans, who then filled in the void with the surviving haplogroups.

Since hg M is one of the two "first out of Africa" haplogroups, it would be interesting to identify to which lineage these China Lake remains belong to: an anciently rooted M lineage would probably mean that these people came to America long ago.

On the other hand, a lately diverged lineage may imply a more recent arrival to the New World. I am more inclined to believe the former.

Alternatively it could be that the whole mtDNA clock is completely wrong with its "timing" and that the people carrying hg M, left Africa long ago (well before 50 kya) and after moving to India, spread across Southern and Central Asia and part of them reached America (the China Lake people being descendants of those initial migrants).


[1] Malhi, Ripian et al. (2007), Mitochondrial haplogroup M discovered in prehistoric North Americans. Journal of Archaeological Science 34, 642-648. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2006.07.004

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


  1. It is my understanding that mtDNA group M23 has not been found on the African continent, but solely on Madagascar and in 4 individuals outside of Madagascar (in the U.S. and the Arabian peninsula) who cannot definitively trace their origins.

  2. Hi Austin have you seen this paper
    by Posth et al from Current Biology. It says mitochondrial haplogroups M and N are found in Native Americans. Have you heard anything about this? NeilB

    1. Hi Neil, actually I have not seen any previous information regarding Haplos M and N as being found in America.
      The paper you linked is very interesting but until now I had not known that M was so prevalent in the new world!
      I will try to find out more about it.

    2. Hi Neil, actually I have not seen any previous information regarding Haplos M and N as being found in America.
      The paper you linked is very interesting but until now I had not known that M was so prevalent in the new world!
      I will try to find out more about it.

  3. Hi Austin, I like you keep an eagle eye out for papers containing information on mtdna haplogroups of Native Americans and I haven't seen ANYTHING On this! Surely this must be an error.. having said that the authors repeat the assertion twice, the second time they state M AND N as Native American! Surely this can't be right.. but then again it would have to be a monumental blunder on the part of the authors and the peer reviewers to let this through! NeilB


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