Don’t Get Too Excited About the New DNA Evidence Linking Native Americans and the Middle East

Some Latter-day Saints might be getting overly excited about a valuable new finding regarding the DNA of Native Americans. For an overview, see “‘Great Surprise’—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins” at National Geographic‘s Daily News, Nov. 20, 2013. The leading paragraph, though, certainly seems like the kind of thing that would excite Book of Mormon fans:

Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome.

Yes, intriguing. Read the report, and then realize that while there may be a significant chunk of Western Eurasian / Middle Eastern DNA among modern Native Americans, the genetic ties may be too ancient to be of direct value to Book of Mormon studies. But the study does remind us of several important things:

  1. Scientists have not yet figured out the origins of all Native Americans based on DNA and other evidence. 
  2. Using DNA to trace the origins of people is complex and tentative. 
  3. Abandoning the Book of Mormon due to the alleged lack of Middle Eastern DNA in the Americans may be a bit premature.
  4. DNA science does not rule out the possibility of ancient migrations of small groups from Western Eurasia or the Middle East to the New World. 

Science is forever tentative, with many surprises yet to come. This “great surprise” should at least open up some interesting new topics for debate and further discovery regarding the complex genetic roots of Native Americans.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

5 thoughts on “Don’t Get Too Excited About the New DNA Evidence Linking Native Americans and the Middle East

  1. I have always wanted to have my genes tested just to see what the finding is, for fun. If I ever have extra money I will.
    My last name is Armenian, so I have Armenian, German, Swiss, Native American, French, English. I have more German than anything else.

    The reason I would like to be tested is to find out iif the Armenian will show up.. It is frustrating that members who left the church over the Native Americans come from Asia thing don't bother to read and research to understand the bigger picture. And don't bother to understand how complicated genes are. Same with the critics. Sad.

    I and one sibling have olive skin, tan easily, brown hair, brown eyes – we look alike. I have one sibling who is blue eyed and blond hair. He lookes like no one in immediate family. No he is not adopted. But youngest is adopted and he looks like me. My kids look nothing alike. So yes, genes are complicated.

  2. The article didn't say anything, however, about that elusive haplogroup Xa, supposedly found most prominent in the Americas among the Ojibwa (who also lived in the Finger Lakes region in western New York state); and allegedly most prominent in the Old World among the Druze in Lebanon (near the ancestral land of Manasseh). Answer me that riddle someone.

  3. The most interesting thing to me about this is that even if that particular link is too old to correspond to Lehi, it does mean that Lehi's DNA could easily be hidden among the other west eurasian DNA. Gone is the argument that there is "no genetic link between the middle east and native americans."

  4. Thank you for bringing this article to my attention. I am always looking for these kinds of scientifically proven facts to back up discussions.

  5. This is just a FYI I thought was interesting.

    In school we were taught that Columbus (Columbo) was the first to discover the Americas. We now know this is not true.
    The History Channel did a program on ancient copper pits in what is now present day Michigan. The pits are estimated to be over 3,500 years old. Over 1 billion to 1.5 billion tons of copper were taken out. The things is there is no evidence the copper was used in in the Americas by the Natives. But in Greece and Europe 3,500 years ago, the Bronze Age, they were getting copper, but were not mining it in Greece or Europe. A stone tablet with Minoan writing was found near the ancient copper pits. It is authentic and dates back to the time of the ancient copper mines. In about 1670 a European was shown, by a Native American, a huge copper ore boulder that had been hacked on for decades and decades. That boulder now sits in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Also, in Ohio a Minoan coin was dredged up from a river. Trade was going on between the Greeks and the Native Americans. The Greeks took copper back to Greece and supplied copper to the rest of Europe. Also, 3,500 years ago, a sweet, almost clear crude oil was mined in Pennsylvania, which the Natives used for religious ceremonies up to this day, and the Greeks also took this oil back to Greece.
    The Seneca and Obijiwa Natives have stories of "fair haired" people coming to the Americas way before Columbus made it.
    Thor Heyerdahl, an ethnographer, always believed the ancient people traveled across the oceans, short and long distances. He went on an expedition to prove it could be done. And he did prove it.
    The Book of Mormon says that there were already people here when Lehi and his family came. There is ongoing evidence that this is true and evidence there was trade across the oceans.

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