Ancient DNA examined at Museum of the Coastal Bend lecture
April 5, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.
Updated April 4, 2014 at 11:05 p.m.
In the late 1920s, the ancient skeleton of a child was discovered near the village of Mal'ta in South-Central Siberia.
A recent DNA analysis of the skeleton, believed to be 24,000 years old, has shown the Mal'ta child's people were ancestors of modern Native Americans, suggesting first Americans came directly from Siberia.
Kelly Graf, assistant professor in the Center for the Study of First Americans and Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M University, helped develop the project and traveled to the Hermitage State Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the remains are housed. Her team's analysis determined the biological sex of the child, which is the oldest complete genome of a human sequenced so far.
Graf will speak about the project at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Museum of the Coastal Bend on the main campus of Victoria College, 2200 E. Red River St. in Victoria.
The discovery raises new questions about a much-debated topic - the timing of human entry in Alaska and ultimately North America.
"Results of this study may contribute to the theory that people entered the Americas much earlier than previously thought," said Sue Prudhomme, VC's director of Cultural Affairs.
The lecture is open to the public. Admission is free for museum members and pay-what-you-want for all others.
This is the first in the museum's spring 2014 lecture series. Visit MuseumOfTheCoastalBend.org for information about upcoming lectures.