An international research study, now being published in Nature, has made a breakthrough in the question of the origin of the indigenous peoples in the Americas. The key was 24 000-year-old bone fragments from a child in Siberia that shed new light on the history of these peoples, along with kinship relations among groups in Europe and Asia in the Stone Age. The genome from the 24 000-year-old individual from Siberia is very similar to that of the American indigenous population, but it also evinces strong genetic similarities to today’s populations in western Asia and Europe, a surprising and fascinating discovery, according to the scientists. The Americas were the last of the major continents to be colonised, and the question of the kinship of indigenous peoples there has long been discussed. How, when, and from where did they come to America? Kinship has been demonstrated with groups in eastern Asia today, but many pieces of the puzzle have been missing if we are to understand their history. In 2009 scientists from the University of Copenhagen, together with American colleagues, took samples from bone fragments from a young individual in Mal’ta in Siberia, which were dated to 24 000 years ago. The analysis of these samples, some of which was performed at Uppsala University, shows only very little kinship with today’s population in that part of Siberia. On the other hand, the child was more closely related to today’s population in Europe and western Asia. This could be shown using both mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA. The international research team, led by Professor Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, draws the conclusion that at that time there were closer relations between groups in western and north-eastern parts of Europe and Asia than there are today. However, what the study shows most clearly is the close kinship between the Mal’ta child and the indigenous American population. At the same time, surprisingly, no close kinship was found with people in eastern Asia today, who are regarded today as being most closely related to indigenous Americans. The scientists thus say that the indigenous people of America can be said to come from two places: from a group of people that no longer exists and that is best represented by the Mal’ta individual (14-38%), and the rest from East Asia. The findings are strengthened by bone fragments of another individual from roughly the same area in Siberia, albeit 17 000 years old, that evince great similarities to those from 24 000 years ago. This indicates that the same group of people populated the area for a long period, with a very harsh and cold climate.