"We didn't know this population existed," says anthropologist Ben Potter from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
"It would be difficult to overstate the importance of this newly revealed people to our understanding of how ancient populations came to inhabit the Americas."
Given the nature of this field of research – and the scope of the new findings – it's unlikely the new hypotheses will remain uncontested for long.But in the light of all the new evidence researchers are uncovering, it's clear the first settlers of America carried a more diverse lineage than we ever realised.
"[This is] the first direct evidence of the initial founding Native American population," Potter says. "It is markedly more complex than we thought."
The findings are reported in Nature