It is fascinating that such a sample could be found so far east at so early a time. Both Y-chromosome R and mtDNA haplogroup U are very rare east of Lake Baikal which has been considered a limit of west Eurasian influence into east Eurasia. And, indeed, both these haplogroups are absent in Native Americans, so it is not yet clear how Native Americans (who belong to Y-chromosome haplogroups Q and C and mtDNA haplogroups A, B, C, D, X) are related to these Paleolithic Siberians. The obvious candidate for this relationship is Y-chromosome haplogroup P (the ancestor of Q and R). So, perhaps Q-bearing relatives of the R-bearing Mal'ta population settled the Americas.
Its closest present-day relatives are indicated in (c), with Native Americans (red) being the closest, and a scattering of boreal populations from the Atlantic to the Pacific (but not in the vicinity of Lake Baikal) next in line (yellow).
This distribution clearly related to the evidence for admixture in Europe adduced in two other recent papers, although the question of who went where and when remains to be resolved. Was MA-1 part of an intrusive western population encroaching on east Eurasians? Or did MA-1 lookalikes arrive as first settlers in empty territory, later ceding this space to east Eurasians from, perhaps, China? Did the two mix in Siberia or did they arrive in the Americas in separate migrations and mix there? And, how does this all relate to events in Europe in the far west?
UPDATE: Razib makes an excellent point:
Also, can we now finally bury the debate when east and west Eurasians diverged? Obviously it can’t have been that recent if a >20,000 year old individual had closer affinity to western populations.We already knew that Tianyuan was more Asian than European, so I think west Eurasians diverged from the rest >40 thousand years ago. But, Tianyuan was so early that its precise relationships to different Asian groups could not be determined. So, I'd say it's a good guess that east-west split off before 40 thousand years in Eurasia.
Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12736
Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans
Maanasa Raghavan, Pontus Skoglund et al.
The origins of the First Americans remain contentious. Although Native Americans seem to be genetically most closely related to east Asians1, 2, 3, there is no consensus with regard to which specific Old World populations they are closest to4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Here we sequence the draft genome of an approximately 24,000-year-old individual (MA-1), from Mal’ta in south-central Siberia9, to an average depth of 1×. To our knowledge this is the oldest anatomically modern human genome reported to date. The MA-1 mitochondrial genome belongs to haplogroup U, which has also been found at high frequency among Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers10, 11, 12, and the Y chromosome of MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and near the root of most Native American lineages5. Similarly, we find autosomal evidence that MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and genetically closely related to modern-day Native Americans, with no close affinity to east Asians. This suggests that populations related to contemporary western Eurasians had a more north-easterly distribution 24,000 years ago than commonly thought. Furthermore, we estimate that 14 to 38% of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population. This is likely to have occurred after the divergence of Native American ancestors from east Asian ancestors, but before the diversification of Native American populations in the New World. Gene flow from the MA-1 lineage into Native American ancestors could explain why several crania from the First Americans have been reported as bearing morphological characteristics that do not resemble those of east Asians2, 13. Sequencing of another south-central Siberian, Afontova Gora-2 dating to approximately 17,000 years ago14, revealed similar autosomal genetic signatures as MA-1, suggesting that the region was continuously occupied by humans throughout the Last Glacial Maximum. Our findings reveal that western Eurasian genetic signatures in modern-day Native Americans derive not only from post-Columbian admixture, as commonly thought, but also from a mixed ancestry of the First Americans.