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Ancient DNA and human history

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Republication from  pnas.org

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We review studies of genomic data obtained by sequencing hominin fossils with particular emphasis on the unique information that ancient DNA (aDNA) can provide about the demographic history of humans and our closest relatives. We concentrate on nuclear genomic sequences that have been published in the past few years. In many cases, particularly in the Arctic, the Americas, and Europe, aDNA has revealed historical demographic patterns in a way that could not be resolved by analyzing present-day genomes alone.

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P. Mitochondrial Genomes Suggest a Single Major Dispersal of Non-Africans and a Late Glacial Population Turnover in Europe

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Republished from Cell.com

 

Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene Archeological Sites and Hunter-Gatherer mtDNA Haplogroups

(A) Pre-LGM dispersal of non-African populations, carrying both M and N lineages (hgs R, U, U5, and U2′3′4′7′8′9 belong to the N clade, distinct from the M clade).

(B) Post-LGM re-expansion in Europe while ice sheets retracted.

(C) Late Glacial shift in mtDNA hg frequency.

(D) Holocene hunter-gatherer mtDNA, mainly belonging to hg U5.

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How modern humans dispersed into Eurasia and Australasia, including the number of separate expansions and their timings, is highly debated [1, 2]. Two categories of models are proposed for the dispersal of non-Africans: (1) single dispersal, i.e., a single major diffusion of modern humans across Eurasia and Australasia [3, 4, 5]; and (2) multiple dispersal, i.e., additional earlier population expansions that may have contributed to the genetic diversity of some present-day humans outside of Africa [6, 7, 8, 9]. Many variants of these models focus largely on Asia and Australasia, neglecting human dispersal into Europe, thus explaining only a subset of the entire colonization process outside of Africa [3, 4, 5, 8, 9].

 

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Italian genomes reflect the history of Europe

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Republication from nature.com

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Recent scientific literature has highlighted the relevance of population genetic studies both for disease association mapping in admixed populations and for understanding the history of human migrations. Deeper insight into the history of the Italian population is critical for understanding the peopling of Europe. Because of its crucial position at the centre of the Mediterranean basin, the Italian peninsula has experienced a complex history of colonization and migration whose genetic signatures are still present in contemporary Italians. In this study, we investigated genomic variation in the Italian population using 2.5 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms in a sample of more than 300 unrelated Italian subjects with well-defined geographical origins. We combined several analytical approaches to interpret genome-wide data on 1272 individuals from European, Middle Eastern, and North African populations.

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Early farmers from across Europe directly descended from Neolithic Aegeans

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Republication from biorxiv.org

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Zuzana Hofmanová, Susanne Kreutzer, Garrett Hellenthal, Christian Sell, Yoan Diekmann, David Díez del Molino, Lucy van Dorp, Saioa López, Athanasios Kousathanas, Vivian Link, Karola Kirsanow, Lara M Cassidy, Rui Martiniano, Melanie Strobel, Amelie Scheu, Kostas Kotsakis, Paul Halstead, Sevi Triantaphyllou, Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika, Dushanka-Christina Urem-Kotsou, Christina Ziota, Fotini Adaktylou, Shyamalika Gopalan, Dean M Bobo, Laura Winkelbach, Jens Blöcher, Martina Unterländer, Christoph Leuenberger, Çiler Çilingiroğlu, Barbara Horejs, Fokke Gerritsen, Stephen Shennan, Daniel G Bradley, Mathias Currat, Krishna Veeramah, Daniel Wegmann, Mark G Thomas, Christina Papageorgopoulou, Joachim Burger

Abstract

Farming and sedentism first appear in southwest Asia during the early Holocene and later spread to neighboring regions, including Europe, along multiple dispersal routes. Conspicuous uncertainties remain about the relative roles of migration, cultural diffusion and admixture with local foragers in the early Neolithisation of Europe. Here we present paleogenomic data for five Neolithic individuals from northwestern Turkey and northern Greece, spanning the time and region of the earliest spread of farming into Europe.

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Most European men descend from a handful of Bronze Age ancestors

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Republication from the University of Leicester

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University of Leicester researchers discover a European male-specific population explosion that occurred between 2000 and 4000 years ago
  • Researchers determined DNA sequences from the Y chromosomes of 334 men belonging to 17 populations from Europe and the Middle East
  • Study shows that almost two out of three (64%) modern European men belong to just three young paternal lineage
  • Male-specific population expansion was widespread, and surprisingly recent, focusing interest on the Bronze Age

Geneticists from the University of Leicester have discovered that most European men descend from just a handful of Bronze Age forefathers, due to a ‘population explosion’ several thousand years ago.

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The Indo-European Cradle from a Linguistic and Archaeological standpoint

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Republication from the Annual Review of Linguistics

 

The Indo-European Homeland from Linguistic and Archaeological Perspectives

Vol. 1: 199-219 (Volume publication date January 2015)
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-linguist-030514-124812

David W. Anthony1 and Don Ringe2
1Anthropology Department, Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York
2Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ABSTRACT
Archaeological evidence and linguistic evidence converge in support of an origin of Indo-European languages on the Pontic-Caspian steppes around 4,000 years BCE. The evidence is so strong that arguments in support of other hypotheses should be reexamined.

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Figure 1  Wheel terms found in Indo-European language branches. Modified with permission from Anthony (1995).

 

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