Scientists have determined that the Taino tribe, thought to have been wiped out after Columbus met them, are still alive today.
A remarkable new study claims that a tribe that Christopher Columbus discovered has not gone extinct, but lives on in modern-day Puerto Ricans. After sequencing the DNA from a 1,000 year old tooth that was discovered in the Bahamas, scientists have determined that genes from the Taino Native Americans live on today.
The tooth has provided the critical evidence needed to show that the first natives to meet Columbus in the New World did not disappear, and their direct descendants are very much alive today. The Taino people were thought to have been totally wiped out by Europeans who showed up with Columbus, but apparently they’ve been in Puerto Rico all this time.
Researchers found the tooth on the island of Eluethera in the Bahamas, and it is the first complete ancient human genome from this part of the world. Scientists think that a Taino woman who lived between the 8th and 10th centuries was the owner of this tooth. They were able to compare the ancient genes to modern Puerto Ricans to arrive at their conclusion.
Lead author Schroeder, from the University of Copenhagen who carried out the research as part of the NEXUS1492 project, said in a statement from St. John’s College, University of Cambridge: “It’s a fascinating finding. Many history books will tell you that the indigenous population of the Caribbean was all but wiped out, but people who self-identify as Taíno have always argued for continuity. Now we know they were right all along: there has been some form of genetic continuity in the Caribbean.”
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