Dr Theodore Schurr, from the University of Pennsylvania has published DNA research that revealed genetic markers linking people living in Mongolia and southern Siberia, with indigenous populations in North America. A study of the mutations indicated a lineage shift between 13,000 and 14,000 years ago - when people are thought to have walked across the ice from Russia to America.
These humans carried their Asian genetic lineages up into the far reaches of Siberia and eventually across the then-exposed Bering land mass into the Americas.
Among the people who may have emerged from the Altai region are the predecessors of the first Native Americans. The region lies at the intersection of what is now Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.
This roughly coincides with the period when humans from Siberia are thought to have crossed what is now the Bering strait and entered America.
'Altai is a key area because it's a place where people have been coming and going for thousands and thousands of years,' said in the US.