London, Aug 31 IANS | 3 months ago

As the scientific community dwells over the possibility that Neanderthals had sex with humans, an Indian-origin researcher has found that the earliest Arctic inhabitants lived in complete sexual isolation from their neighbours for almost 4,000 years.

"Paleo-Eskimos, after surviving in near-isolation in the harsh Arctic environment for over 4,000 years, disappeared around 700 years ago - about the same time when ancestors of the modern day Inuit spread eastward from Alaska," explained Dr. Maanasa Raghavan from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen.

The Inuit came from Siberia to the Arctic several thousand years after the Paleo-Eskimos.

This new genomic research found that Paleo-Eskimo people remained isolated in the eastern Arctic for thousands of years with no significant mixing - culturally or sexually - with American-Indians, Norse or other Europeans.

"Our genetic studies show that Paleo-Eskimos were the first people in the Arctic and they survived without outside contact for over 4,000 years," added co-author professor Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen.

To reach this conclusion, the team did a comprehensive DNA study of current and former inhabitants of Greenland, Arctic Canada, Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and Siberia.

The findings rejected the speculation that Paleo-Eskimos represented several different people, including Native Americans, or that they are direct ancestors of today's Inuit.

"With the study, we have addressed the question of cultural versus genetic continuity in one of the most challenging environments that modern humans have successfully settled in and present a comprehensive picture of how the Arctic was peopled," Raghavan emphasised.

According to the findings, the Paleo-Eskimo population contained very few women.

"In fact, the genetic record suggests that the first migrant population may have contained as few as one single (and apparently very accommodating) woman," Willerslev noted.

Besides, avoiding modern tools like bows and arrows, their culture was deeply spiritual, the researchers concluded in a paper published in the journal Science.

(Posted on 31-08-2014)

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