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In the Navajo creation story, people travel up through four lower worlds, creating chaos and disorder until they are banished from each in turn. At one level, they are threatened by a devastating flood but Spider Woman rescues them by weaving a web to create solid ground before the water sweeps over them.

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In this excerpt from the Hopi Snake Myth, recorded circa , a young man journeys to the home of the Snake People. There, with the help of Spider Woman, he meets a beautiful Snake Maiden.

Oldest human genome reveals less of an East Asian ancestry than thought.

On the walls of the kiva were hanging many costumes made of snake skins. Soon the chief said to the people: "Let us dress up now," and turning to the young man bid him to turn away so that he would not see what was going on. He did so, and when he looked back again the men had all dressed up in the snake costumes and had turned into snakes, large and small, bull snakes, racers, and rattlesnakes, that were moving about on the floor hissing, rattling, etc.

While he had turned away and the Snake People had been dressing themselves, Spider Woman had whispered to him that they were now going to try him very hard, but that he should not be afraid to touch the snakes; and she gave him many instructions Spider Woman whispered to the young man that the one that acted so very angrily was the pretty maiden and that he should try to take that one.

The study authors believe the new study could also help resolve some long-standing puzzles on the peopling of the New World, which include genetic oddities and archaeological inconsistencies. Explore an atlas of the human journey.

The incredible story of the Navajo Code Talkers that got lost in all the politics

A genome related to present-day western Eurasian populations and modern Native Americans as well was really puzzling in the beginning. How could this happen?

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  7. The arm bone of a three-year-old boy from the Mal'ta site near the shores of Lake Baikal in south-central Siberia map yielded what may be the oldest genome of modern humans ever sequenced. DNA from the remains revealed genes found today in western Eurasians in the Middle East and Europe, as well as other aspects unique to Native Americans, but no evidence of any relation to modern East Asians.


    A second individual genome sequenced from material found at the site and dated to 17, years ago revealed a similar genetic structure. It also provided evidence that humans occupied this region of Siberia throughout the entire brutally cold period of the Last Glacial Maximum, which ended about 13, years ago. Prevailing theories suggest that Native Americans are descended from a group of East Asians who crossed the Bering Sea via a land bridge perhaps 16, years ago, though some sites may evidence an earlier arrival.

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    While the land bridge still formed the gateway to America, the study now portrays Native Americans as a group derived from the meeting of two different populations, one ancestral to East Asians and the other related to western Eurasians, explained Willerslev, whose research was published in the November 20 edition of the journal Nature. Willerslev believes the discovery provides simpler and more likely explanations to long-standing controversies related to the peopling of the Americas.

    But this result makes a lot of sense regarding why they don't fit so well genetically with contemporary East Asians—because one-third of their genome is derived from another population. The findings could also allow reinterpretation of archaeological and anthropological evidence, like the famed Kennewick Man , whose remains don't look much like modern-day Native American or East Asian populations, according to some interpretations.