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Mitogenome of Ancient Sacrificed Boy

A team of Spanish and Argentine researchers has sequenced the mitochondrial genome of a 7-year-old Incan boy who died as part of a ritual sacrifice some 500 years ago, the Los Angeles Times reports. Hikers found the boy's frozen and mummified remains 30 years ago.

The team led by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team's Alberto Gómez-Carballa and the University of Santiago de Compostela's Antonio Salas describes in Scientific Reports how it sequenced the boy's mitochondria and compared it to a database of world mitogenomes. From this, they report that the Incan haplotype belongs to a branch of haplogroup C1b. While haplogroup C1b is common among modern Native Americans, this C1bi branch has not yet been seen in modern Native Americans, they add.

The researchers further compiled 201 C1b mitogenomes from the literature to re-construct its phylogeny. The haplogroup, they report, dates back some 18,300 years, indicating it arose early, possibly in Beringia. They also note that C1b is only slightly older in Mesoamerica than in South America, suggesting a rather rapid southern expansion.

Meanwhile, they report that the boy's C1bi branch likely originated on the Andean side of the South American sub-continent some 14,000 years ago. This, they add, suggests that people moved along the Pacific coast during the Incan period.