DNA reveals the past
St. JOHN’S, N.L. — about 5,000 years ago, after massive ice sheets from the Last Glacial Maximum retreated, the Maritime archaic peoples carved a living from the sea and woodlands on Newfoundland’s west coast.
at Port au choix, north of today’s Gros Morne National Park, archeologists in 1968 recovered hundreds of artifacts — carved pendants resembling birds, shell beads and amethyst crystals.
this southern branch of the Maritime archaic vanished from the archeological record some 3,000 years ago. it was widely speculated they were related to the later beothuks who thrived in Newfoundland for hundreds of years before europeans arrived. the last known beothuk died of tuberculosis in 1829.
New genetic research published thursday suggests the Maritime archaic were in fact distinct from the beothuk.
“this in turn implies that the island of Newfoundland was populated multiple times by distinct groups,” says molecular anthropologist ana duggan,.