Bones, teeth show distinct ancient groups populated Newfoundland: DNA study

ST. JOHN’S, N.L.- New genetic research suggests ancient groups who moved on to Newfoundland after the last ice age are distinct from the Beothuk who died off after Europeans arrived.

Samples of DNA passed from mothers to children suggest Maritime Archaic groups who lived on the island 5,000 years ago share no recent maternal ancestor with the Beothuk.

The Beothuk peoples lived in Newfoundland for hundreds of years before disease and loss of hunting grounds killed the last known survivor in 1829.

The study published today in the journal “Current Biology” is based on small archived samples of bone and teeth from 74 people.

They include 19 Beothuk samples analyzed with co-operation from aboriginal groups in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Study co-author Ana Duggan says the results help fill gaps in the archeological record.

The relationship between the older groups and the Beothuk had not been clear from artifacts such as ancient stone tools used to hunt seal and wild game.

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