Spatial and temporal stability of mtDNA haplogroup frequencies in native North America

D. H. O'Rourke*, M. G. Hayes, S. W. Carlyle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial DNA lineage frequencies in prehistoric Aleut, eastern Utah Fremont, Southwestern Anasazi, Pyramid Lake, and Stillwater Marsh skeletal samples from northwest Nevada and the Oneota of western Illinois are compared with those in 41 contemporary aboriginal populations of North America. The ancient samples range in age from 300 years to over 6,000 years. The results indicate that the prehistoric inhabitants of North America exhibit the same level of mtDNA variability as contemporary populations of the continent. Variation in modern mtDNA haplogroup frequencies is highly geographically structured, and the prehistoric samples exhibit the same geographic pattern of variation. This indicates that differentiation of regional patterns of mtDNA lineage variation occurred early in North American prehistory (much more than 2,000 years B.P.), has remained relatively stable since its origin, and was little influenced by the disruptions hypothesized for other genetic systems as a result of population declines and relocations at contact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-34
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • Ancient DNA
  • North American Indians
  • mtDNA haplogroups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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