A Paleogenetic Perspective on the Early Population History of the High Altitude Andes

Author(s): Lars Fehren-Schmitz

Year: 2016


The peopling of the high altitude Andes marks an important episode in South American population history, eventually leading to the formation of the most complex societies of the late pre-Columbian period, namely Wari, Tiwanaku, and Inca. Little is known about how population dynamic processes and genetic adaptation to physical stressors like hypoxia shaped the genetic diversity of the Andean highland populations over the ~10,000 years of human presence in high altitude leading to the emergence of these empires. Paleogenetic investigations in the highlands have been limited to populations not older than ~1500 years. The molecular evolutionary processes associated with adaptations to hypoxic stress have only been studied in modern populations. Thus, these studies are prone to potential bias resulting from past demographic events. Here we report on genome wide data from pre-Columbian individuals deriving from high altitude sites dating to ~8500-560 BP. We gain new insights into the ancestry of early Andean highlanders, population relationships, and admixture events that help us to better understand the interaction of Andean groups with low altitude groups. Furthermore, we identify that selection must be considered as one of the driving factors of the adaptation to hypoxia in the Central Andean highlands.

Cite this Record

A Paleogenetic Perspective on the Early Population History of the High Altitude Andes. Lars Fehren-Schmitz. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404052)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;