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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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Extensive West Eurasian admixture throughout the African continent revealed

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Reoublication from Science mag

Characterizing genetic diversity in Africa is a crucial step for most analyses reconstructing the evolutionary history of anatomically modern humans. However, historic migrations from Eurasia into Africa have affected many contemporary populations, confounding inferences. Here, we present a 12.5x coverage ancient genome of an Ethiopian male (‘Mota’) who lived approximately 4,500 years ago. We use this genome to demonstrate that the Eurasian backflow into Africa came from a population closely related to Early Neolithic farmers, who had colonized Europe 4,000 years earlier.

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Genomes reveal deep roots of modern Eurasians

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Republication from nature.com

Figure 1 : Genetic structure of ancient Europe.

Abstract

We extend the scope of European palaeogenomics by sequencing the genomes of Late Upper Palaeolithic (13,300 years old, 1.4-fold coverage) and Mesolithic (9,700 years old, 15.4-fold) males from western Georgia in the Caucasus and a Late Upper Palaeolithic (13,700 years old, 9.5-fold) male from Switzerland. While we detect Late Palaeolithic–Mesolithic genomic continuity in both regions, we find that Caucasus hunter-gatherers (CHG) belong to a distinct ancient clade that split from western hunter-gatherers 45 kya, shortly after the expansion of anatomically modern humans into Europe and from the ancestors of Neolithic farmers 25  kya, around the Last Glacial Maximum. CHG genomes significantly contributed to the Yamnaya steppe herders who migrated into Europe 3,000 BC, supporting a formative Caucasus influence on this important Early Bronze age culture. CHG left their imprint on modern populations from the Caucasus and also central and south Asia possibly marking the arrival of Indo-Aryan languages.

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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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