Professor Hey, of Rutgers University, was quoted in Live Science as saying his method favoured 'actual genetic data over estimates used in previous calculations'. He said: 'The estimated effective size of the founding population for the New World is about 70 individuals.'

Archeological evidence supports his calculation that the initial settlement of North America occurred between 12,000 and 14,000 years ago. He said: 'The beauty of the new methodology is that it uses actual DNA sequences collected from Asian peoples and Native Americans, an approach that can provide a detailed portrait of historical populations.

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