A recent genetic analysis of the present population residing in the Arctic regions reveals a mass migration from Siberia into the Americas. It also reveals the withering away of an Arctic culture known as the Dorset or the paleo-eskimos disappeared without a genetic trace centuries ago.
William Fitzhugh, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and one of the authors of the research appearing in Friday’s issue of the journal Science said, “One might almost say, kind of jokingly and very informally, that the Dorsets were the ‘hobbits’ of the Eastern Arctic, a very strange and very conservative people that we’re only just getting to know a little bit,”
Not much is known about the paleo-eskimo people and the precious few which we know about them come from the things they left behind like the primitive stone tools and beautiful wooden and ivory figurines.DNA analysis suggests that the ancestors migrated from Siberia into Arctic Canada and Greenland some 4500 years ago. They lived in the chilly wilderness, in isolation for almost three millennia.
The research involves analysis of more than 150 DNA samples which were taken from ancient and present day humans from Siberia, Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands.
Earlier researchers were of the opinion that Dorsets were descendents of migrants who had come to the new world earlier. However DNA analysis reveals that the paleo-eskimos ancestors were not a part of the three previously known waves of migration that go back as far as 15,000 years. They appear to be an entity of a completely separate Paleo-Eskimo wave of migration.
The study also validates the theory that the Inuit people who presently inhabit the Arctic regions are descendants of migrants who came after the Dorset migration. It was known as Thule or Neo-Eskimo migration and took place about 1000 years ago. The Dorset did not have any cultural interaction with the Thule people. In a few centuries, the Dorset vanished and lived only as the ‘Gentle Giants’ in the tales told by Inuit people.