Mal’ta Boy

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

The 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.

Code: MTB-14

Ancient DNA Hub Reference: Mal’ta

Story ID: 10130

Contributing ancient genomes: 1 (Mal’ta Boy)

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

North American – Native Americans (n=533)

Russia – Buryat Mongols (n=78)

Italian – Piedmont (n = 147)

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

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

Lake Baikal GeneHelen

The Amerind Gene

The Shaman Gene

You may also be interested in the following test:

Ice Age Europeans

Chumash Paleo-Indians






Currently available ancient peoples and cultures

Ancient Britons in Roman Britain

Britons, Romans and others buried between 100 and 300 CE in Driffield Terrace cemetery outside York, England

Read more

Egyptian Mummies

Ancient mummified Egyptians sampled from the Abusire el-Meleq Archeological Site near Cairo

Read more

Vikings in Medieval Iceland

Norse and Irish settlers in Iceland from its earliest colonization

Read more

Ancient Israelites

Farmers, herders, merchants and other Levantine people who lived in the bounds of modern-day Israel from the end of the Stone Age down to Biblical times

Read more

Anglo-Saxon Fen Dwellers

Angles, Saxons and other heathen peoples who invaded the east coast of England from Germany and Denmark beginning with the fall of Roman Britain, settling and intermarrying with the Britons.

Read more

Minoans and Mycenaeans

Greek maritime city-states from the Bronze Age who left writings in Linear A and Linear B

Read more

Mal’ta Boy

Controversial Ice Age link between ancient Northern Europeans and American Indians

Read more

Kennewick Man

One of America’s oldest inhabitants and certainly its most mysterious.

Read more


Coming Soon!

Upcoming Ancient
Peoples and Cultures

  • Prehistoric Africans
  • Templar Knights and Crusaders
  • Amazons

Sign up for updates

* indicates required