23 June 2012

Native American genes found in Icelanders

This is significant because it would indicate not just transatlantic contact with North America, but migration or mating in the preColumbian era.
Although most mtDNA lineages observed in contemporary Icelanders can be traced to neighboring populations in the British Isles and Scandinavia, one may have a more distant origin. This lineage belongs to haplogroup C1, one of a handful that was involved in the settlement of the Americas around 14,000 years ago. Contrary to an initial assumption that this lineage was a recent arrival, preliminary genealogical analyses revealed that the C1 lineage was present in the Icelandic mtDNA pool at least 300 years ago. This raised the intriguing possibility that the Icelandic C1 lineage could be traced to Viking voyages to the Americas that commenced in the 10th century...

If the Greenland and ancient European hypotheses are rejected, what we have is a woman who entered the Icelandic society from an extinct lineage of Native Americans, probably from the northeast (or perhaps her Greenland Norse mother was of this line). What the Norse would have termed Markland. It is tempting to point to the Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. Perhaps the Europeans had enslaved a native woman, and taken her back to their homeland when they decamped? But more likely to me is the probability that the Norse brought back more than lumber from Markland, since their voyages spanned centuries.

Finally, does this explain Björk? I doubt it...
Original publication in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 2010, via Discover Magazine.


  1. Well, Greenland has a large Inuit population, too. By 1300 they were already settled in west Greenland, and then moved into east Greenland over the 15th century. So maybe Bjork has some Inuit lineage from very distant ancestors.

  2. I'm not surprised... look at some pictures of Sami people and notice the similarities in facial features, clothing style etc... the similarities are striking.

  3. Why is it assumed the Icelanders were they conveyers? How about a canoe with Native Americans, fishing near the coast are caught by a storm and swept to sea where, days later, the wind and waves have carried them to Iceland where they settle and mingle? A sea-going Icelandic whatchamacalli and round trip aren't required. A small raft would suffice.

    Who knows? Maybe the Native Americans discovered Iceland, not vice versa.

    1. Not only is that possible, but I believe there is a verified report of a North American native reaching Iceland via drifting, tho IIRC the event occurred in post-Columbian times.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...