New Research on the Peopling of the Americas

An international research crew, including MSU Department of Anthropology Assistant Professor Kurt Rademaker and five team members, contributed some of the key ancient human remains that documented population dynamics in the Andean region. The results of this research were revealed in a recent article, “Reconstructing the Deep Population History of Central and South America,” published in the journal Cell Vol.175(5).

In 2015, Dr. Rademaker’s team excavated several ancient individuals from Cuncaicha rockshelter, in the high-elevation Peruvian Andes. Dr. Rademaker hand-carried the three rare, ancient individuals which included a 9000-year-old female and two males dating from 4200 and 3300 years ago from Peru to labs in the Unites States and Germany for radiocarbon dating, CT scanning, stable isotope and paleogenetic analyses and then returned them to Peru. This work lead to the first high quality ancient DNA data from Central and South America, shedding light on a distinctive DNA type associated with the first widespread archaeological culture of North America, known as the Clovis culture.

This work has also been featured in the New York Times, “Crossing From Asia, the First Americans Rushed Into the Unknown”. Dr. Rademaker says, “As an archaeologist, it is incredibly rewarding to collaborate with physical anthropologists and paleogeneticists to unravel the complex story of early Americans. Interdisciplinary efforts like this are the future of our fields.”

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