Human migration in the Caribbean has always been of much interest to geneticists, and a recent study at least three represent the region’s ancestral origins.
The Caribbean is said to be among the last of the regions in the New World to have had human settlers; long before the islands in that part of the Western hemisphere were discovered, colonized and called the Americas during the Age of Discovery.
A new study conducted by archaeologists from the University of Copenhagen and geneticists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, focused their research on ancient DNA. They found evidence that there were at least 3 populations of people that descended and migrated in the region.
Bone fragments estimated to belong to ancient Caribbean ancestors were unearthed by archaeologists across 16 excavation sites. The researchers analyzed the DNA and were able to establish that they came from some 93 ancient humans who settled in the Caribbean islands around 400 to 3,200 years ago.
The first two of the populations were found in the western part of the Caribbean and appeared to have had links to early populations that dispersed in North America. The third, which was also the last wave of migration, were established to have originated in South America.
Assistant Professor of Bio-Anthropology at the University of Winnipeg, Yadira Chinique de Armas, remarked that the new data uphold their previous observations that there was biological and cultural diversity among the early Carribean settlers.
Ancient Caribbean Populations Had Traveled via Land and Sea
Based on earlier studies, it was theorized that migrating populations had travelled only by way of a land bridge, and that the hunter-gatherers were not great sea voyagers. Yet this group of researchers found growing evidence that the Caribbean Sea did not pose as a barrier. It had instead served as some sort of aquatic highway that connected the islands to each other and to the mainland.
Kathrin Nägele, one of the first authors of the study and a student taking up PhD at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, said they have found evidence that suggests there were repeated interactions between inhabitants of the islands and the mainland,