‘Montana boy’ linked to Asian exodus and native Americans
Nearly 13,000 years ago, a baby boy died in what is the US state of Montana today.
Mourners stained his tiny body with red ochre and entombed him with artefacts that had likely been in his family for generations.
After lying undisturbed for millennia, the infant's body was dug up by accident at a construction site in 1968 - the oldest skeleton ever found in the Americas.
Now, scientists say the remains have helped them settle a long-standing debate about the lineage of indigenous Americans, and shed light on the settlement of the last continent to be populated by modern humans.
After decoding the child's genome, an international team of experts said they can confirm that modern Native Americans are direct descendents of the first people to have settled the continent from Asia some 15,000 years ago, and not migrants from Europe, as some have claimed.
"The genetic data ... confirms that the ancestors of this boy originated from Asia," said Michael Waters of the Texas-based Centre for the Study of the First Americans.
The boy had been a member of the so-called Clovis culture which lived in North America between 13,000 and 12,600 years ago.
Genetic analysis showed the boy was more similar to Siberians than other Eurasians or any other people in the world, the scientists reported.