Mal’ta Boy Controversial Link between Europeans and Native Americans

Mal’ta Boy| Russia | Siberia | 33,000-21,000 BCE (ICE AGE)

Malta-Boy-dna-testThe individual in this sample caused a furor when ancient DNA analysis confirmed he was equally related to Europeans and Native Americans but not close at all to East Asians or modern-day inhabitants of Mongolia and Siberia. The Mal’ta site lies near Lake Baikal in the Eastern Siberian part of present-day Russia. It had been studied over a long period beginning in the 1920s. Mal’ta Boy’s remains were originally labeled MA-1 and stored together with others in St. Petersburg museums. In the 2000s, Eske Willerslev’s team was able to recover genetic material, but they thought the European haplogroups they observed (U and R rather than A, B, C, D or X) indicated contamination from excessive handling by museum and laboratory personnel. Only later, after noticing similar lineages in a nearby burial did they return to their task and publish it. At that point, headlines around the world announced, America’s Natives Have European Roots.

Mal’ta Boy’s remains were carbon dated to between 22,570 and 22,140 years old, placing them in a transitional period between the Middle and Late Upper Paleolithic. A cross-section of an upper arm bone was used to recover his genomic sequences. He was about 3-4 years old and had brown eyes, dark hair and freckled skin. He was buried wearing an ivory crown and bead necklace with a bird-shaped carved pendant.

Mal’ta Boy’s community lived in family units in half-underground houses constructed of animal bones, antlers and skins to protect them from the harsh Siberian climate.

Genetic analysis of Mal’ta Boy and his culture has contributed to a long debate about the origins of Native North Americans. It was found that these Ice Age Siberians had deep ancestry that connected them to Western Eurasians, while they were also ancestors of Native North Americans. More surprisingly, the Mal’ta people appeared to have no direct ancestry connecting them to present-day East Asians. That was unexpected, as it has long been assumed that Native North Americans were of direct East Asian descent. Mal’ta Boy’s Y chromosome haplogroup R is a very ancient lineage thought to have arisen in Southeast Asia during the Paleolithic. It is widespread throughout the world today. His mitochondrial lineage was part of the U haplogroup common worldwide today and also thought to be of very ancient origin.


More Information on Importance of Mal’ta Boy

A Question Mark Looms Over Origin of American Indians

Basic American Indian DNA Test Explodes Old, Tired Theories


You may be interested in these present-day populations available in the DNA Fingerprint Plus:

North American – Native Americans (n=533)

Russia – Evenk (n=14)

Russia – Buryat Mongols (n=78)

Russia – Chukchi (n=15) Italian (n=1,541)

Finland (n = 230)

You may be interested in the following potential matches from the Rare Genes from History test:

Lake Baikal Gene

The Amerind Gene

The Shaman Gene

Rare Genes from History



  Comments: 9

  1. Dorene Soiret

    Thank you for always keeping us on the cutting edge, Dr. Yates!

  2. Normandie Kent

    How is this controversial, it’s a known fact that Native Americans descend from the Ancient North Eurasians that Malta-1 Child belonged to. This was 30,000 ybp, it is also known that Europeans descend from Ancient North Eurasians from Siberia also, but from a more recent time period of around 4,500 ybp, in the late Bronze Age. This is the only link between the two population, and NAs and European have no direct link directly from each other.

    • To me it’s not really controversial, though no one has decided how the gene flow occurred and whether it came over the Bering Strait/Land Bridge or by water across the Atlantic from Scandinavia perhaps. Or was it circumpolar?

      • Christian Saldana

        Lol… the Mal’ta boy did in fact have some East Eurasian admixture. This article makes it sound like the ANE were some “pure European”/Viking type. The ANE themselves were mixed race. So this also means that west eurasians have East Eurasian admixture. But I bet the white supremacists and regular storefront goers won’t want to hear that.

        • You’re right. All populations are mixed, especially ancient ones, which were very mobile and subject to a lot of traumas and transformations. The Mal’ta Buret Culture (24000 to 15000 BCE) seems to have bifurcated and expanded mostly west and north; it seems also to have been part of a circumpolar movement of peoples at one point. It accounts for why Indians like the Creek, Cherokee, Lumbee and Shawnee get high matches to Finland and Estonia and people of pure Baltic background match Huichols, Cherokee, Maya and others. Remember Mal’ta Boy had haplogroups R and U, otherwise recognized as European. My top matches are Finland, Cherokee Tribal and Highlands Scottish.

      • It’s disturbing to see that comment on a genetics board. The DNA is crystal clear that all Native American migrations originated in Asia. There were only two routes of migration: 1. across the Aleutians by boat, and 2. around the rim of the Arctic Ocean by boat (later migrations). This question has long been settled. There were no early Atlantic crossings.

        • This view is far from unanimous. A lot hinges on Clovis points, which appear in North America fully realized and are more perfect the farther east you go. A classic work is Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America’s Clovis Culture (2013) First Edition by Dennis J. Stanford and Bruce A. Bradley, Michael Collins (Foreword). For a later period, there’s also Farley Mowat’s The Farfarers. Almost no American Indian origin story mentions an Asian homeland. Most origins are sea-borne (Hopi, Aztec, Maya etc.) but do not go through Alaska. Some specifically speak of coming from where the sun rises (across the Atlantic).

  3. This is very confused. First the post suggests that R was his mitochondrial haplogroup, which it wasn’t. It’s Y-chomosome. Then it says that R haplogroup originated in southeast Asia, which is totally wrong — R is nearly absent in southeast Asia. Y-chromosome R originated in or near the Caspian Basin as R1b is found concentrated southeast of the Caspian and R1a originated northwest of the Caspian where it remains concentrated.

    • Sorry we should have made it clear that Mal’ta Boy was Y chromosomal haplogroup basal R*, the only instance of it so far, and that Haplogroup P1 (P-M45), the immediate ancestor of Haplogroup R, likely emerged in Southeast Asia, though there are several competing theories. The usual Native American Y chromosome haplogroup is Q, not R.

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