According to a New York Times report, migrants from North Africa first reached the Canary Islands around A.D. 100. Then, they inhabited all seven of the islands by A.D. 1000 at the latest.
The study is conducted by population geneticist Rosa Fregel of the University of La Laguna and her colleagues. In this study, they examined human mitochondrial DNA which is recovered from skeletons unearthed at 25 sites. These are scattered over all the Canary Islands and are located off the coast of Morocco. Fregel said that in the Canary Islands indigenous people, they find typical North African lineages but also some other lineages with a Mediterranean distribution. Also, some lineages which are of sub-Saharan African origin are also found. The researchers also found four new lineages which are unique to Gran Canaria and two of the eastern islands. They are suggesting that there may have been at least two waves of migration. One of which was large enough to result in a great deal of genetic diversity. Europeans who in the 1400s traveled to the islands claimed that the Canarians lacked navigational skills. This leads to the suggestion which they may have been brought to the islands by Romans or Carthaginians. To get more on the use of mitochondrial DNA in genetic studies, go to “Naia—the 13,000-Year-Old Native American.”
By: Preeti Narula