Indigenous Caribbean Network

Sharing Scientific mtDNA Studies of "Extinct" Taino

It is an old scientific paper on mtDNA studies that were done on ancient skeletons of the Taino ancestors. These studies were done before the People gathered together to ban desecrations of ancient grave sites. Despite that these mtDNA studies prove that the Taino people are not "extinct." That you are still here as evidenced within mtDNA test results of descendants of the Taino.

The paper I am sharing was written by Charles Lalueza Fox et al, I am hoping I can upload it here.

In any case, what is important to me is the fact that the paper contains the actual sequence numbers for comparitive study by the general public and those who have spent the time to get their mtDNA tested.

I found this article during a search for the Caribbean Coast of Central America. It turned out to be Guatemala and Belize. Both these places once belonged to the ancient Mayan people! 

In retrospect I can now say that my Guanahatabey and your Taino ancestors came from the same place.

I find it unfortunate that thus far there are no records of the Guanahatabey language. 

Ann. Hum. Genet. (2001), 65, 137±151
Printed in Great Britain
MtDNA from extinct Tainos and the peopling of the Caribbean
" SeccioU Antropologia, Dept. Biologia Animal, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona,
Barcelona, Spain
# Departamento de AntropologõUa FõUsica, Museo del Hombre Dominicano, Santo Domingo,
RepuU blica Dominicana; Universidad Nacional Pedro HenrõUquez Urenh a, RepuU blica Dominicana
$ Unitat de Biologia Evolutiva, Facultat de Cie[ ncies de la Salut i de la Vida,
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
(Received 10.7.00. Accepted 30.11.00)
Tainos and Caribs were the inhabitants of the Caribbean when Columbus reached the Americas;
both human groups became extinct soon after contact, decimated by the Spaniards and the diseases
they brought. Samples belonging to pre-Columbian Taino Indians from the La Caleta site
(Dominican Republic) have been analyzed, in order to ascertain the genetic affinities of these groups
in relation to present-day Amerinds, and to reconstruct the genetic and demographic events that
took place during the peopling of the Caribbean.
Twenty-seven bone samples were extracted and analyzed for mtDNA variation. The four major
Amerindian mtDNA lineages were screened through ampli®cation of the speci®c marker regions and
restriction enzymatic digestion, when needed. The HVRI of the control region was ampli®ed with
four sets of overlapping primers and sequenced in 19 of the samples. Both restriction enzyme and
sequencing results suggest that only two (C and D) of the major mtDNA lineages were present in the
sample: 18 individuals (75%) belonged to the C haplogroup, and 6 (25%) to the D haplogroup.
Sequences display speci®c substitutions that are known to correlate with each haplogroup, a fact
that helped to reject the possibility of European DNA contamination. A low rate of Taq
misincorporations due to template damage was estimated from the cloning and sequencing of
different PCR products of one of the samples. High frequencies of C and D haplogroups are more
common in South American populations, a fact that points to that sub-continent as the homeland
of the Taino ancestors, as previously suggested by linguistic and archaeological evidence. Sequence
and haplogroup data show that the Tainos had a substantially reduced mtDNA diversity, which is
indicative of an important founder effect during the colonization of the Caribbean Islands, assumed
to have been a linear migratory movement from mainland South America following the chain
con®guration of the Antilles.
When Christopher Colombus reached two of
the Greater Antilles (Bahamas and Hispaniola)
Correspondence: Jaume Bertranpetit, Unitat de
Biologia Evolutiva, Facultat de Cie' ncies de la Salut i de
la Vida, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, C. Dr. Aiguader 80,
08003 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: (­3493) 542 28 40; Fax
(­3493) 542 28 02.
E-mail: jaume.bertranpetit!
during his ®rst discovery voyage, in 1492, he was
greeted by indigenous people who called themselves
Tainos. At that time, Columbus was
convinced of having arrived in either Japan or
China; later he changed his mind, and, believing
he had reached India, called the aborigines
`Indians', a misleading name for the
Native Americans that has remained in use to
this day. Thus, the wrong and biased perceptions
138 C. Lalueza-Fox and others
of Westerners about Caribbean aborigines date
back to the very ®rst moment both cultures
collided. However, we don't really know what
the Tainos thought about the Spaniards, since
they were extinguished in just one or two
generations after this ®rst contact, decimated by
the harsh treatment of the Spaniards and the
diseases they brought with them. It is difficult to
know how many people were killed during this
process of extinction; according to different
authors they could have numbered between 2
and 7 million throughout the Caribbean
(Ubelaker, 1992; Crawford, 1992). At the beginning
of the 16th century, to replace the
decreasing Tainos as agricultural and mining
labour, the Spaniards brought African slaves
(Kiple, 1984), who came to constitute the major
present-day human substratum in the Caribbean.
Despite claims of Taino heritage survival in some
rural communities in the east of Cuba, it must be
concluded that, after 500 years of cultural and
genetic disruption, the original Caribbean people
have disappeared forever as a distinct human
group. The study of the so-called Black Caribs
from Belize (Monsalve & Hagelberg, 1997), a
population which is presumed to derive from the
admixture of Island Caribs with West African
slaves, illustrates the limitations of working with
the highly admixtured modern Caribbean populations,
since at least 16 of the 17 sequences
found were clearly of African origin. Therefore,
we need to rely on ancient DNA analysis if we
want to know the genetic affinities of these
groups in relation to the other peoples of the
By the time of Columbus, and according to the
Spanish chroniclers, there were two main human
groups in the Caribbean, the Tainos, and the
Caribs (whose name is the source of the region's
name). The Tainos inhabited la Hispaniola,
Puerto Rico, the east of Cuba, and probably
Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos
Islands, while the Caribs inhabited the Windward
Islands and Guadeloupe (Rouse, 1986,
1993). The latter group ± sometimes called Island
Caribs ± was culturally related to some mainland
American groups (called Mainland Caribs), that
were established mainly in Venezuela. The
Tainos consisted of hierarchical societies
organized into chiefdoms; they had advanced
agricultural techniques that allowed them to
establish some settlements of thousands of
inhabitants, with ceremonial squares and ball
game courts. In contrast, the Caribs were
ferocious nomadic hunters that raided the Taino
villages, expanding from the South through the
Lesser Antilles. In addition to Tainos and Caribs,
there were other groups at Columbus' times: the
so-called Arawaks, inhabitants of Trinidad and
the Guianas, and the Guanajuatabeys, inhabitants
of West Cuba.
The names of the Caribbean groups and the
languages they spoke are a source of debate
among scholars; it seems that both Tainos and
Island Caribs spoke Arawakan languages that
belong to the Equatorial sub-family, in the
Equatorial-Tucanoan family (Ruhlen, 1991). In
contrast, the Mainland Caribs spoke Caribbean
languages, which are classi®ed into the Macro-
Carib subfamily, within the Ge-Pano-Carib family
(Greenberg, 1987; Ruhlen, 1991). The existence
of some words with clear Caribbean origin in
the language of the Island Caribs points to a close
relationship with the Mainland Caribs. The
original homeland of the Taino groups in mainland
South America is more controversial.
Archaeological evidence shows that the
Caribbean area was already settled by 5000 b.c. ;
however, it has been suggested that the direct
ancestors of the Tainos might have come from
populations that migrated from the Lower
Orinoco Valley, the Guianas or Trinidad and
Tobago, around 1000 b.c. Thereafter, they
undertook a long series of voyages, from one
island to another, progressing from the mainland
to the Lesser Antilles and from there to the
Greater Antilles, eventually mixing with or
pushing west the pre-existing populations, like
the Guanajuatabeys. The islands are so close to
one another that, with three exceptions, it is
possible to see the next island in the migratory
chain. If this hypothesis is correct, the peopling
of the Caribbean had to take place as a linear
migratory movement from South East to North
mtDNA from extinct Caribbean Indians 139
West, following the chain con®guration of the
Antilles Islands.
Therefore, whether or not the Caribbean was
peopled from South-America is a hypothesis that
can be reliably explored with ancient DNA
analysis. The vast majority of ancient DNA
studies have been based on the analysis of
mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This cytoplasmic
genome has a better chance of recovery, since a
cell with a single copy of the nuclear genome can
contain several thousand copies of the mtDNA
genome. MtDNA has been widely used as a
molecular tool for reconstructing the history of
present-day human populations, by virtue of its
special evolutionary properties, such as a rapid
mutation rate relative to nuclear DNA, lack of
recombination and maternal inheritance (Avise,
1986; Stoneking, 1993).
In the Americas, many studies have shown
that most of the mtDNA of Amerindian populations
falls into four major lineages (named `A',
`B', `C', `D'), primarily de®ned by speci®c
mtDNA markers (Schurr et al. 1990; Torroni et
al. 1992, 1993b, 1994; Horai et al. 1993).
Haplogroup A is de®ned by an HaeIII site at np
663, haplogroup B by a COII}tRNALys intergenic
9bp deletion, haplogroup C by an AluI site
at np 13262 and haplogroup D by the absence of
the AluI site at np 5176. Sequence data show a
correlation between these lineages and particular
mutations in the Control Region I of the mtDNA
genome (Torroni et al. 1993a). An additional
residual ®fth founding haplogroup, named `X',
has been recently described (Bandelt et al. 1995).
This lineage, ancestrally related to the lineage X
found in some European populations, is characterized,
at its basal level, by some RFLP and
control region markers, such as ± 1715 DdeI,
­16517 HaeIII, and the 16223T-16278T substitutions;
in the Americas, it has only been found
in populations from North America.
Greenberg et al. (1986) postulated that three
different migrations (Amerind, Na-Dene and
Eskimo-Aleut speakers) from Asia across the
Bering Straits peopled the Americas. However,
the ®rst sequence data (Ward et al. 1991) showed
a rather high mtDNA diversity in one single
tribe, suggesting a much more complex scenario
than that expected from the three-migration
model. Subsequent genetic studies (Horai et al.
1993; Torroni et al. 1993a, 1993b) demonstrated
that the Native American mtDNAs clustered in
few, but relatively deep, lineages that were
widespread along the continent and not restricted
to any particular ethnic group or
linguistic family. The ubiquity of the Native
American mtDNAs in Asia suggested that a
single initial migration into America, instead of
successive migration waves, was a more plausible
scenario (Merriwether et al. 1995; Merriwether &
Ferrell, 1996). From that common mitochondrial
founding pool, different demographic events
would have produced the differences observed
among present-day Native American populations,
thus complicating the interpretation of
both genetic and ethnohistorical data (Forster et
al. 1996).
The purpose of this study is to recover mtDNA
from pre-Columbian Taino remains from
Hispaniola (Dominican Republic) to ascertain
the genetic affinities of these groups in relation to
present-day mainland Amerinds and to reconstruct
the process of peopling of the Caribbean
Islands, along with the possible existence of
demographic events during that process, such as
genetic drift or bottlenecks. The future aim of
this project is to analyse the genetic composition
of the pre-Columbian remains from other
Caribbean Islands, to provide a clear picture of
the whole migration process; if successful, this
can constitute a case study on ancient human
migrations similar to that of Polynesia, although
on a smaller scale.
materials and methods
DNA extraction and ampli®cation
Twenty-seven bone samples from the pre-
Columbian site of La Caleta (Repu!blica
Dominicana) were analyzed. The site is located
25 km east of Santo Domingo city, and is one of
the most important Taino necropolises in the
island; the bodies are buried with Boca Chica
style ceramics, ornaments and tools (unpublished
140 C. Lalueza-Fox and others
data). Samples were chosen from well preserved
post-cranial bones, and belong to different individuals;
the radiocarbon dating of several individuals
has yielded dates from 670³70 a.d. to
1680³100 a.d. ; however, most of the dates are
Extraction was undertaken with strict procedures
to minimize the potential for contamination,
in a positive-air pressure room separated
from the main laboratory. Sterile gloves, face
masks, sterile reagents, pipette ®lter tips and
frequent bleaching of the working surfaces were
some of the precautions adopted during the
process. In addition, the laboratory where the
analysis was done is totally new, and no
extraction of DNA from Amerindians had ever
been performed there. The external surface of the
bone samples (³1 mm) was removed with a
sterile surgical blade. Between 1 and 2 g of the
bone samples were powdered in a coffee grinder;
between each extraction, the grinder was washed
with bleach. The powder was washed overnight,
with shaking, in 10 ml of 0.5 M EDTA pH 8.0 at
37 °C; after centrifugation, the supernatant was
removed, and the remaining sample was incubated
overnight at 37 °C with 8.5 ml of water,
1 ml 5% SDS, 0.5 ml 1 m Tris-HCl pH 8.0 and
50 ll of 1mg}ml proteinase K. After incubation,
the digests were extracted three times, ®rst with
phenol, second with phenol-chloroform and third
with chloroform, and the aqueous phase was
concentrated by dialysis centrifugation using
Centricon-30 microconcentrators (Amicon) to a
100±200 ll volume.
One microlitre of template was subjected to 35
cycles of ampli®cation in 25 ll-reaction volume
containing 1 unit of Taq polymerase (Ecogen,
Madrid, Spain), 10¬ reaction buffer, 2.5 mm
MgCl#, 0.2 mm dNTPs, 12 mg}ml of BSA and 20
pmoles of each pair of primer. Each cycle
consisted of 1 min steps, with denaturation at
94 °C, annealing at 55 °C and extension at 72 °C.
Negative controls (extraction blanks and PCR
blanks) were undertaken along with the ancient
samples, to monitor against contamination; no
positive controls were used. PCR products were
electrophoresed in 0.8% low-melting agarose
gels in TA buffer and visualized with ethidium
bromide staining. Positive ampli®cation bands
were excised from the gels, melted at 65 °C for
20 min and eluted in 100±200 ll of sterile water,
depending on the intensity of the band. The
samples were subjected to a further 15 cycles of
PCR, with limiting primers, annealing at 57 °C,
one initial step at 94 °C for 5 min and one ®nal
step at 72 °C for 5 min. The PCR products were
puri®ed with the silica binding method (modi®ed
from Ho$ ss & Pa$
bo, 1993); 20 ll of reaction
volume was mixed with 100 ll of 8.2 m NaI and
40 ll of silica suspension, and left for 5 min at
room temperature. After a spin, the supernatant
was removed and the silica pellet washed twice
with 250 ll of 70% ethanol. The nucleic acids
were eluted in 20±30 ll of water; 2±6 ll of these
samples was used as the template for direct
sequencing on an ABI 377TM automated DNA
sequencer (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA,
USA), according to the supplier's instructions.
Four sets of overlapping primers (L16055-
H16142, L16131-H16218, L16209-H16356, and
L16347-H16410) published elsewere (Handt et al.
1996; Stone & Stoneking, 1998), were used to
amplify 354 bp of the mtDNA control region I,
between positions 16056 and 16409 (Anderson et
al. 1981). All samples that yielded positive
ampli®cations and sequences were extracted
twice; additional sequences were randomly
generated from the second extracts, using the
shorter primer sets.
To obtain additional support for the attribution
of the four primary mtDNA Amerindian
lineages, small fragments of mtDNA containing
the speci®c marker of each lineage were ampli®ed
in the same, previously sequenced, samples. Four
sets of primers were used. For the haplogroup A,
L635 and H709 (Handt et al. 1996); haplogroup
B, L8215 and H8297 (Wrischnik et al. 1987);
haplogroup C, L13257 and H13393 (Handt et al.
1996;Ward et al. 1991, respectively); haplogroup
D, L5054 and H5190 (Stone & Stoneking, 1998;
Handt et al. 1996, respectively). The PCR
products were digested overnight at 37 °C with
0.5 ll of the appropriate restriction enzyme, and
subsequently electrophoresed in 3%agarose gels,
mtDNA from extinct Caribbean Indians 141
Fig. 1. Map of Central, South America and the Caribbean, with the populations included in this study.
Abbreviations are: AMA, Amazonas, CAY, Cayapa, EMB, Embera, GAV, Gavia4 o, HUE, Huetar, KUN,
Kuna, NGO, Ngo$be!, QUI, Quiche, TAI, Tainos, WOU, Wounan, XAV, Xavante, YAN, Yanomami, ZOR,
except for the haplogroup B ampli®cations that
were directly electrophoresed.
Cloning of PCR products
To estimate the rate of misincorporations due
to the template damage or Taq errors in our
sample, two different PCR ampli®cations
(L16209-H16410 and L16209-H16356) from the
same sample (u163) were cloned and sequenced.
Twelve microliters of the PCR product were
treated with T4 polynucleotide kinase, puri®ed
by phenol-chloroform extraction and MicroSpin
Column centrifugation and then ligated into a
SmaI pUC18 plasmid vector, for 2 h at 16 °C,
following the supplier's instructions (SureClone
Ligation Kit-Pharmacia, Upssala, Sweden). Five
microliters of the ligation product was transformed
into 100 ll of competent cells and grown
in 200 ll of LB medium for 1 h before plating on
IPTG}X-gal agar plates. Colonies were left to
grow overnight at 37 °C; white colonies were
added to 50 ll PCR reactions for 25 cycles;
inserts that yielded the expected size in a
electrophoresed gel were excised, puri®ed with
silica and sequenced following the procedures
Statistical analysis
Intrapopulation mtDNA variation in the
Tainos was measured by two parameters.
Nucleotide diversity (p) was computed as p¯
(n}n®1) Rl"
i=" (1-xi
#), where n is the sample size,
l the sequence length and xi the frequency of each
nucleotide at position i (Nei, 1987). Sequence
diversity (hs) was estimated as hs ¯ (n}
i=" (1®pi
#), where k is the number of
different sequences and pi the frequency of each
sequence (Nei, 1987). The pairwise difference
distribution (mismatch distribution) (Rogers &
Harpending, 1992; Harpending et al. 1993) was
also computed.
To provide a populational framework for
testing the peopling of the Caribbean, all Meso
and South American groups published, with
ethnic attribution and large sample sizes, have
been considered (Fig. 1). The populations used
142 C. Lalueza-Fox and others
Table 1. mtDNA haplogroup attribution from the ampli®cation and enzymatic restriction of the
speci®c markers in the Taino samples
9 bp deletion
166 ® ® ­ D
196 ® D*
189 ® ® ® ­ D
167 ® ® ® ­ D
70 ® ® ­ ® C
45 ® ® ® C
187 ® ® ® C
154 ® ­ ® C
182 ® ­ C
71 ® ® ® C*
48 ® ® ­ ® C
191 ® ® ­ C
162 ® C*
53 ® ­ ® C
170 ® ­ ® C
54 ® ® ­ ® C
51 ® ® C*
58 ® ­ C
163 ® ® ­ ® C
(Not sequenced)
50 ® ? ? ?
175 ® ® ­ C
164 ® ® ­ C
197 ® ­ C
72 ® ? ? ?
40 ® ® ® ­? D
185 ® ® ® ­ D
150 ? ? ?
? accounts for unresolved enzymatic digestion due to low ampli®cation efficiency. * attributions were con®rmed by
sequencing of the control region.
are the Cayapas (Rickards et al. 1999), Embera,
Gavia4o (Ward et al. 1996), Huetar (Santos et al.
1994), Kuna (Batista et al. 1995), Mapuches
(Ginther et al. 1993), Ngo$be! (Kolman et al. 1995),
Quiche (Boles et al. 1995), Wounan (Kolman &
Bermingham, 1997), Xavante (Ward et al. 1996),
Yanomami (Torroni et al. 1993a) and Zoro (Ward
et al. 1996), as well as some individuals from
related tribes (Yanomama, Wayampi, Kayapo,
Arara, Katuena, Portujara, Awa-Guaja, and
Tiriyo) grouped into`Amazonas' (Santos et al.
1996). Analyses including these samples were
made considering sequences between positions
16024 and 16383.
A distance matrix between populations was
generated using the mismatch-intermatch distance.
Principal coordinates analysis was performed
on the distance matrix with the NTSYS
programme, version 1.70 (Applied Biostatistics,
Inc, Setanket, NY, USA). In order to understand
the history of the sequences found in the Tainos,
we have also performed a median network
analysis (Bandelt et al. 1995) with 218 sequences
from South American populations. To simplify
the phylogeny obtained, we have repeated the
network only with the C haplogroup sequences,
which includes most of the Taino sequences.
Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA)
(Excoffier et al. 1992) was carried out with the
Arlequin 2000 package (Schneider et al. 2000).
The ampli®cation results of the speci®c haplogroup
markers are shown in Table 1, along with
the putative haplogroup assignment. The ampli-
®cation efficiency varied from one haplogroup to
another, probably due to differences in the
primer design and the length of the ampli®ed
mtDNA from extinct Caribbean Indians 143
Table 2. Polymorphic sites of the sequences found in the Tainos
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4
2 2 8 2 4 5 6 6 9 1 2 2 6 0
Sample HAPLOGROUP 6 9 9 3 2 4 3 5 8 1 5 7 2 0
166 D [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ [ [ C [ C [
196 D [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ [ [ C [ C [
189 D [ A [ T [ [ [ [ [ [ C [ C [
167 D [ [ [ T T [ [ [ [ C C [ C T
70 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ C C C T [ [
45 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ C C C T [ [
187 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ C C C T [ [
154 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ C C C T [ [
182 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ C [ C T [ [
71 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ C [ C T [ [
48 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ C [ C T [ [
191 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ C [ C T [ [
162 C [ [ C T [ [ [ [ C [ C T C [
53 C [ [ C T [ [ [ [ C [ C T C [
170 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ [ C [ [ T C [
54 C [ [ [ T [ [ C [ C [ [ T [ [
51 C [ [ [ T [ [ [ T C [ C T [ [
58 C [ [ [ [ [ G [ [ C [ C T C [
163 C C [ [ [ [ [ [ [ C [ C T [ [
Base positions are compared to the Cambridge reference sequence (Anderson et al. 1981).
product; for instance, it was possible to amplify
the A haplogroup region in almost all the samples
(25 out of 27); in contrast, only 16 samples yield
PCR products for the D haplogroup. In some of
the C and D haplogroup ampli®cations, the
bands were so faint that the ®nal result remained
unclear. It should be noted that ampli®cation is
independent of the results of the enzymatic
digestion and, therefore, the ampli®cation
efficiency does not bias the haplogroup attribution.
The ampli®cation efficiency was higher for the
control region, maybe due to a better primer
design (Table 2). In the best preserved specimens
(ten samples), it was possible to obtain the
354 bp region with only two overlapping fragments
(L16055-H16218 and L16209-H16410).
The widely described degradation of ancient
DNAinto fragments, usually smaller than 200 bp
(Pa$a$ bo, 1989; Lalueza-Fox, 1996a), made
necessary the ampli®cation of nine samples (71,
182, 53, 154, 187, 196, 58, 51, 170) in four
fragments. A partial sequence, with a G in np
16212 (L16131-H16218 fragment), was obtained
for the no. 197 sample; however, since it was not
possible to extend the sequence or reproduce it
subsequently, this has not been included in Table
2. In addition, seven samples failed to yield
ampli®able DNA. The low ampli®cation
efficiency and low reproducibility of some
samples most likely re¯ects severe DNA degradation
and a small number of template
The sequence markers obtained, corresponding
to the mtDNA lineages (C in np 16325 and C in
np 16362 for the haplogroup D, and C in np
16298, C in np 16325 and T in np 16327 for the
haplogroup C), con®rmed the haplogroup attribution
(Forster et al. 1996). Taking into
account the consensus haplogroup assignation,
inferred from both the haplogroup markers and
the sequences, it can be summarized that 75%of
the Tainos studied belonged to the C haplogroup
(N¯18) and 25% (N¯6) to the D haplogroup.
No presence of the two other major Amerindian
haplogroups (A and B) was detected. The highest
limit for a 95% con®dence interval for no
observation in a sample size (N) of 24 individuals
can be estimated through the Poisson distribution
1®e−FN¯0.95, were F is the frequency of
an unobserved haplogroup; therefore, other
haplogroups could be present in the Taino
144 C. Lalueza-Fox and others
Table 3. MtDNA lineage frequencies in Amerindian populations
Linguistic classi®cation
mtDNA lineages frequencies (%)
and Population n A B C D Others References
Old Harbor, Eskimos 115 61.7 3.5 0.0 34.8 0.0 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Ouzinbie, Eskimos 41 73.2 0.0 4.9 14.6 7.3 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Gambell, Eskimos 50 58.0 0.0 14.0 26.0 2.0 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Savoonga, Eskimos 49 93.9 0.0 0.0 2.0 4.1 Merriwether et al. 1995b
St. Paul, Aleuts 72 25.0 0.0 1.4 66.7 6.9 Merriwether et al. 1995 b
Dogrib 30 100.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al., 1993a
Dogrib 124 88.7 0.0 2.4 0.0 8.9 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Navajo 48 58.3 37.5 0.0 0.0 4.2 Torroni et al. 1993a
Apache 25 64.0 16.0 12.0 8.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Haida 38 92.1 0.0 7.9 0.0 0.0 Ward et al. 1993
Haida 25 96.0 0.0 0.0 4.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Bella Coola 25 60.0 8.0 8.0 20.0 4.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Bella Coola 32 78.1 6.25 9.4 6.25 1.6 Ward et al. 1993
Nuu-Chah-Nulth 63 44.5 3.1 19.1 26.7 13.3 Ward et al. 1991
Nuu-Chah-Nulth 15 40.0 6.7 13.3 26.7 13.3 Torroni et al., 1993a
Ojibwa 28 64.3 3.6 7.1 0.0 25.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Mohawk 18 46.4 10.5 13.8 0.6 28.7 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Maya 27 51.9 22.2 14.8 7.4 3.7 Torroni et al. 1993a
Mixe 16 62.5 31.3 6.2 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1994
Muskoke 71 36.6 15.5 9.9 38.0 0.0 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Mixtec Alta 15 73.4 13.3 13.3 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1994
Mixtec Baja 14 92.9 7.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1994
Zapotec 15 33.3 33.3 33.3 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1994
Pima 30 6.7 50.0 43.3 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Teribe 20 80.0 20.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1994
Guatuso 20 85.0 15.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1994
Boruca 14 21.4 71.5 0.0 7.1 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Kuna 16 100.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Kuna 63 71.4 28.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 Batista et al. 1995
Guaymi 16 68.8 31.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Bribi}Cabecar 24 54.2 45.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Huetar 27 70.4 3.7 0.0 25.9 0.0 Santos et al. 1994
Ngo$be! 46 67.4 32.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 Kolman et al. 1995
Cayapa 120 29.1 40.0 9.2 0.0 21.7 Rickards et al. 1999
Atacama 13 23.1 69.2 7.7 0.0 0.0 Bailliet et al. 1994
Atacamen4 o 50 12.0 72.0 10.0 6.0 0.0 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Yanomama 24 0.0 16.7 54.2 29.2 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Quechua 19 26.3 36.8 5.3 31.6 0.0 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Aymara 172 6.4 67.4 12.2 14.0 0.0 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Mapuche 39 15.4 38.5 20.5 25.6 0.0 Ginther et al. 1993
Mapuche 58 5.3 32.7 20.6 31.1 10.3 Bailliet et al. 1994
Huilliche 38 5.3 28.9 18.4 47.4 0.0 Bailliet et al. 1994
Huilliche 80 3.75 28.75 18.75 48.75 0.0 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Pehuenche 100 2.0 9.0 37.0 52.0 0.0 Merriwether et al. 1995b
Aonikenk 15 0.0 0.0 26.7 73.3 0.0 Lalueza-Fox 1996
Kawe!skar 19 0.0 0.0 15.8 84.2 0.0 Lalueza-Fox 1996
Ya!mana 11 0.0 0.0 90 10 0.0 Lalueza-Fox 1996
Selk'nam 13 0.0 0.0 46.2 46.2 7.7 Lalueza-Fox 1996
Piaroa 10 50.0 0.0 10.0 40.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Wapishana 12 0.0 25.0 8.3 66.7 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Ticuna 28 17.9 0.0 32.1 50.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Zoro 30 20.0 6.7 13.3 60.0 0.0 Ward et al. 1996
mtDNA from extinct Caribbean Indians 145
Table 3. (cont.)
Linguistic classi®cation
mtDNA lineages frequencies (%)
and Population n A B C D Others References
Gavia#o 27 14.8 14.8 0.0 70.4 0.0 Ward et al. 1996
Tainos 24 0.0 0.0 75.0 25.0 0.0 Present study
Makiritare 10 20.0 0.0 70.0 10.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Macushi 10 10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Kraho 14 28.6 57.1 14.3 0.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Marubo 10 10.0 0.0 60.0 30.0 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Mataco 28 10.7 35.7 0.0 53.6 0.0 Torroni et al. 1993a
Xavante 25 16.0 84.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Ward et al. 1996
Colombians 20 50.0 20.0 25.0 5.0 0.0 Horai et al. 1993
Chileans 45 4.5 22.2 40.0 33.3 0.0 Horai et al. 1993
Norris Farm-Oneota 108 31.5 12.0 42.6 8.3 5.6 Stone and Stoneking 1998
Great Salt Lake Fremont 32 0.0 73.0 13.0 7.0 7.0 Parr et al. 1996
Fig. 2. MtDNA lineage frequencies in Amerindian
populations grouped by broad geographic regions (North,
Central and South America). X haplogroup has only been
found in North America, the black bar in South America
correspond to a lineage described in the Capayas.
population with frequencies up to 12.5% and
would not have been detected with the present
sample size of 24 individuals.
Data on the haplogroup frequencies for other
Amerindian populations have been compiled
from previously published papers, and have been
grouped according to linguistic and geographic
criteria (Table 3). The most obvious pattern of
variation in these frequencies is still geographical,
as some authors have suggested (Merriwether
et al. 1995; Lalueza-Fox, 1996b). When grouped
in the three main geographic entities of the
continent (North American, Central American
and South American Amerinds) marked
differences in the distribution of the mtDNA
lineages can be observed (Fig. 2).
Cloning results
The sequence of the clones obtained for one
sample (no. 163) consistently shows the substitutions
found in the direct sequencing of the
sample (16298 [C] 16325 [C] and 16327 [T]), as
well as some singletons (Fig. 3). Since none of the
singletons are shared in two or more clones, these
most probably correspond to cloning artifacts
and not to template damage and Taq misincorporations;
the latter would yield multiple
clones sharing the substitution (Krings et al.
1997). Thus, the DNA from the no. 163 sample
is remarkably well preserved (only 5 singleton
substitutions in 2864 nucleotides sequenced,
error rate}1000 bp of 1.75). Since there did not
seem to be important taphonomic differences
among samples from the La Caleta site related to
preservation, the cloning results suggest a low
ratio of putative misincorporations due to template
damage and Taq errors in our sample.
Diversity parameters
Nucleotide diversity of the Tainos was estimated
at 0.0084 for the 354 bp fragment; this
value is lower than that found in most of the
146 C. Lalueza-Fox and others
Amerind populations studied; only the Kuna
(0.0092), the Huetar (0.0097) and the Xavante
(0.0083) show a similar level of reduced diversity.
The sequence diversity obtained for the Tainos
was 0.918; in this case, this value is higher than
most of the other Amerind populations, similar
to the Amazonas (0.933), Embera (0.942),
Mapuche (0.912) or Wounan (0.920). In addition,
the Tainos present a bell-shaped pairwise
difference distribution, with a mean value of
2.96, the smallest of the Amerind populations
used for comparison, but close to the values
found in the Xavante (3.00), the Kuna (3.30) and
the Huetar (3.50).
Sequence sharing
Some of the sequences found have been already
described, especially those close to the root of the
D and C haplogroups: (1) 16223 [T] 16325 [C]
16362 [C], (2) 16223 [T] 16298 [C] 16311 [C]
16325 [C] 16327 [T], and (3) 16223 [T] 16298 [C]
16325 [C] 16327 [T]. Interestingly, two previously
undescribed sequences, 16223 [T] 16242
[T] 16311 [C] 16325 [C] 16362 [C] 16400 [T] and
16189 [C] 16223 [T] 16298 [C] 16325 [C] 16327
[T] 16362 [C] are very close to two Mapuche
sequences already described by Ginther et al.
(1993). In addition, 16263 [C] has been described
in a Mongolian individual in association with
some of the substitutions (16223 [T] 16298 [C]
16327 [T]) also found in our sample, while 16254
[G] and 16129 [A] substitutions have been found
in Asian individuals. 16265 [T] is an unusual
substitution although it has been found in some
Panamanian individuals (Kolman & Bermingham,
1997), while 16126 [C] has been widely
described in other populations.
Taino genetic affinities
The results of the principal coordinate analysis
on the mismatch-intermatch genetic distance
matrix are represented in Fig. 4; the ®rst two
principal coordinates account for 68.5% of the
total variance of the genetic distance matrix (the
®rst coordinate accounts for 42.2% and the
second for 26.3%). The neighbor-joining tree
(not shown) displays a topology that re¯ects a
similar structure. It can be observed that most
groups from Central America (the Ngo$be!, Kuna,
Huetar and Quiche) are separated from the other
groups, but related quite closely to one another,
while the Tainos and Yanomami are opposite to
them; in between them are all the other South
American populations as well as the Choco!
speakers from Panama!}Colombia, the Embera
and the Wounan. The Xavante, a group from the
south of Brazil, seem to be the most differentiated
population within South America.
Phylogenetic analysis of sequences
In the median network of the South American
sequences, the Taino individuals tend to be
distributed around the central nodes of the C and
D haplogroups, clustering with or close to the
inferred ancestral sequences, suggesting a relative
antiquity of these sequences. The C haplogroup
median network is clearly star-like (Fig.
5); a visual fact supported by the low values
of kurtosis (0.258³0.778) and skewness
(1.026³0.398) of the network's distribution
branch length (Mateu et al. 1997). This kind of
star-shaped phylogeny suggests a population
expansion (Forster et al. 1996). It can be observed
that most of the Taino sequences are related to
the founding sequence by just one, or very few,
substitutions; the main inconsistencies are due
to reversions in position 16362, which has already
been described as a highly unstable position
(Forster et al. 1996) and has a substitution rate
®ve times higher than the control region average
(Meyer et al. 1999). Interestingly, the longest
branches in the network correspond to sequences
found in the Amazonas region, either in some
Yanomami or in the tribes included within the
`Amazonas' group.
The position of most of the Taino sequences
close to the root and their lack of dispersion
along the network suggests that a population
expansion occurred before the formation of long
branches in South American lineages, and}or
before a very narrow bottleneck in the peopling
mtDNA from extinct Caribbean Indians 147
Fig. 3. Sequences from clones generated from two different ampli®cations (L16,209-H16,410 and L16,209-
H16,356) of the no. 163 Taino sample. Anderson is the Cambridge reference sequence (Anderson et al. 1981);
substitutions shared in all the clones obtained are C in 16,298, C in 16,325 and T in 16,327.
Fig. 4. Principal Coordinate (PC) Analysis of the distance matrix obtained from Central and South American
populations. The score values have been multiplied by 100. Abbreviations are: AMA, Amazonas, CAY,
Cayapa, EMB, Embera, GAV, Gavia4 o, HUE, Huetar, KUN, Kuna, NGO, Ngo$be!, QUI, Quiche, TAI,
Tainos, WOU, Wounan, XAV, Xavante, YAN, Yanomami, ZOR, Zoro.
of the Antilles. To test whether both putative
population growths correspond to the same
demographic event, we have estimated the
pairwise distribution of the C sequences of the
Taino and one South American population (the
Yanomami), whose distribution may clearly
re¯ect a past population expansion (Harpending
et al. 1993). Since both mean values are quite
different (2.11 for the Tainos and 1.25 for the
Yanomami), this suggests we are observing the
consequences of two population expansions, one
associated to a founding event in the Yanomami
population and another, more ancient, to the
peopling of the Caribbean.
148 C. Lalueza-Fox and others
Fig. 5. Reduced median network of the C haplogroup mtDNA sequences from South America. Taino
sequences are in black; the circles are proportional to the frequency of the sequences they represent and the
substitutions involved in the Taino sequences are listed in the branches. Central node (*) includes sequences
with T in 16,223, C in 16,298, C in 16,325 and T in 16,327.
The closest phylogenetic affinities of the Tainos
are with South American populations, since high
frequencies of C and D lineages are more common
in South American than in Central or North
American populations, in accordance with the
observed clinal pattern in the geographic distribution
of these lineages along the continent
(Merriwether et al. 1995; Lalueza-Fox, 1996b).
There is little genetic structure among the
Central and South American populations; the
most notable feature seems to be the clustering of
most Central American populations in a distinct
group from the rest. In fact, AMOVA (Analysis
of Molecular Variance) revealed that, when
populations (excluding the Tainos) were divided
into Central and Southern American, the
difference among sub-continents accounted for
10.8% of the genetic variance (signi®cantly
different from zero; p¯0.00196), while 13.05%
of the genetic variance could be explained by
differences among the populations in each subcontinent.
Geography, considered in a latitudinal
sense, is probably the main differentiating factor
in the genetic history of the Amerind populations,
the main exception being the Tainos.
Considering the position of the Tainos in the
genetic analysis, it is clear that, despite being
geographically close to the Central American
groups, their affinities are with South American
groups. In particular, the closest group to the
Tainos are the Yanomami, the only South
American sample available near the Orinoco
Valley, a suggested area for the Taino ancestors
(Rouse, 1986). The Taino sequences cluster close
to the ancestral founding sequences in the
median network analyses; this suggests a considerable
antiquity for the origin of the mtDNA
variation found in the pre-Columbian Caribbean
populations and a narrow bottleneck in the
founding population.
In the genetic analyses, the Tainos do not seem
to be particularly close to the other EquatorianmtDNA
from extinct Caribbean Indians 149
Tucanoan speakers, the Zoro and the Gavia4o;
instead, they cluster close to the Yanomami, who
have a Chibcha-Paezan language. However, the
grouping of the three Chibchan-speaker groups
(Kuna, Huetar and Ngo$be!) could either be
attributed to geographic or linguistic affinities.
Therefore, although the three-migration hypothesis
of Greenberg et al. (1986) for the Americas is
not supported by genetic data, the correlation
between language and mtDNA variation in
particular areas, like Central America, may be
It has been suggested that some archaic
archaeological horizons in the Antilles, such as
the Casimiroid ¯ints, originated in Central
America, which would indicate a population
movement from Yucatan into Cuba and
Hispaniola, maybe around 5000 bc. (Rouse,
1986). In contrast, the subsequent Ceramic
traditions in the Caribbean can be traced back to
the Orinoco Valley in South America, and most
probably correspond to a movement of people
still ancestral to the Tainos migration into the
Caribbean. It is unknown whether these migrating
people replaced or mixed with preexisting
populations; however, the absence in
the Tainos of the A and B haplogroups, that
have high frequencies in Central American
populations, points to an extensive replacement
of the ancestral Caribbean populations. Also,
some contacts between the Caribbean groups and
Central American populations have been
suggested in more recent times (maybe from
1000 b.c. to Columbian times), especially to
explain the diffusion of ball-court structures very
similar to those found in Maya cultures (Rouse,
1986). Despite the possible existence of some
contacts with Central America, the genetic
impact of these should have been quite small,
again given the absence of the A and B lineages.
The Tainos seem to be one of the Amerind
groups studied so far with lowest genetic diversity.
Reduced mtDNA diversity has also been
described in some groups from Panama and
Costa Rica, like the Huetar, Ngo$be! and Kuna
(Santos et al. 1994; Kolman et al. 1995; Batista et
al. 1995), and has been attributed to either postcontact
demographic decline or a small founding
population (Kolman et al. 1995). In the case of
the Tainos, as they predate the Spanish contact,
the reduced genetic diversity has to be attributed
to the ethnogenesis of this people. Taking into
consideration that they were almost at the end of
the Caribbean migration arch, most probably
this is a re¯ection of one or more demographic
bottlenecks which occurred during the peopling
of the Caribbean.
This research was supported by Direccio!n General de
Investigacio!n Cientõ!®ca y Te!cnica in Spain (project PB-
98±1064). We are grateful to J. Mishari Al-Adwani for
correcting the English manuscript and to two anonymous
referees for their helpful comments.
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