Book of Mormon/DNA evidence/New World death rate after European contact

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90% death rate in the New World after European contact

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Gospel Topics: "These events may severely reduce or totally eliminate certain genetic profiles"

"Book of Mormon and DNA Studies," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Population bottleneck is the loss of genetic variation that occurs when a natural disaster, epidemic disease, massive war, or other calamity results in the death of a substantial part of a population. These events may severely reduce or totally eliminate certain genetic profiles. In such cases, a population may regain genetic diversity over time through mutation, but much of the diversity that previously existed is irretrievably lost.

In addition to the catastrophic war at the end of the Book of Mormon, the European conquest of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries touched off just such a cataclysmic chain of events. As a result of war and the spread of disease, many Native American groups experienced devastating population losses.22 One molecular anthropologist observed that the conquest “squeezed the entire Amerindian population through a genetic bottleneck.” He concluded, “This population reduction has forever altered the genetics of the surviving groups, thus complicating any attempts at reconstructing the pre-Columbian genetic structure of most New World groups.”[1]


Question: What effect did the 90% death rate in the New World after European contact have on genetics and its relationship to the Book of Mormon?

Approximately ninety percent of the Amerindian population died out following contact with the Europeans

Approximately ninety percent of the Amerindian population died out following contact with the Europeans; most of this was due to infectious disease against which they had no defense. [2]

It may be that eliminating 90% of the pre-contact gene pool has significantly distorted the true genetic picture of Lehi's descendants

Since different genes likely provide different resistances to infectious disease, it may be that eliminating 90% of the pre-contact gene pool has significantly distorted the true genetic picture of Lehi's descendants. Studies of pre-Columbian human remains have not shown any extinct haplotypes—as one would expect given the small contribution made by a Lehite colony. Gene frequency, however, could well have been altered by such a dramatic die-off, suggesting that caution should be used in assuming that modern Amerindian populations are an identical match for pre-Columbian gene frequencies.


Notes

  1. "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (31 January 2014)
  2. Suzanne Austin Alchon, 'A Pest in the Land: New World Epidemics in a Global Perspective,' Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, c2003.