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Out of Africa and into an archaic human melting pot

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Republication from phys.org

by Robyn Mills,

 

Proposed route of the ancestors of modern humans out of Africa and through Island Southeast Asia. Credit: University of Adelaide

Genetic analysis has revealed that the ancestors of modern humans interbred with at least five different archaic human groups as they moved out of Africa and across Eurasia.

While two of the archaic groups are currently known—the Neandertals and their sister group the Denisovans from Asia—the others remain unnamed and have only been detected as traces of DNA surviving in different modern populations. Island Southeast Asia appears to have been a particular hotbed of diversity.

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DNA of early medieval Alemannic warriors and their entourage decoded

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Republication from   sciencedaily

Burial site reconstructions and location. ( Left) Burial orientation of human and horse graves at Niederstotzingen. ( Right) Location of burial site in southwest Germany. (Image: Niall O’Sullivan et al )

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In 1962, an Alemannic burial site containing human skeletal remains was discovered in Niederstotzingen (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). Researchers at the Eurac Research Centre in Bozen-Bolzano, Italy, and at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, have now examined the DNA of these skeletal remains.

This has enabled them to determine not only the sex and the degree of kinship of those people but also their ancestral origins, which provides new insights into societal structures in the Early Middle Ages. The results of this study demonstrate that genetic research can complement research made by archaeologists and anthropologists through more conventional methods. The research was featured on the front cover of the academic journal Science Advances.

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Archaeological mystery solved with modern genetics

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Republication from chaali.com

Review of the currently accepted demographic model of the Japanese population on the continent. (University of Tokyo )

The current thinking about the origin of the Japanese population maintains that the original residents, Jomon’s people, were met about 2,500 years ago by a separate group mainly from the Korean Peninsula, the Yayoi people. However, archaeological evidence used to achieve this conclusion is insufficient to tell the final story. Now DNA evidence from Y chromosomes provided the necessary data.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo conducted a census of the Japanese population some 2,500 years ago using Y chromosomes living on the main islands of modern Japan. For the first time, the analysis of modern genomes estimated the size of the ancient human population before they were met by a separate ancient population.

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Viking migration left a lasting legacy on Ireland’s population

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Republication from The Conversation

 

The early medieval period in Ireland (400-1200AD) was a time of key importance. It was a turning point in European history and the origin of much contemporary Irish culture and identity. Ireland, the early medieval “land of saints and scholars”, had much cultural and economic growth during the 5th and 6th centuries. Elsewhere in Europe there were unstable populations in the wake of the fall of Rome.

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The earliest modern humans outside Africa

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Republication from science.sciencemag.org

Earliest modern humans out of Africa

Recent paleoanthropological studies have suggested that modern humans migrated from Africa as early as the beginning of the Late Pleistocene, 120,000 years ago. Hershkovitz et al. now suggest that early modern humans were already present outside of Africa more than 55,000 years earlier (see the Perspective by Stringer and Galway-Witham). During excavations of sediments at Mount Carmel, Israel, they found a fossil of a mouth part, a left hemimaxilla, with almost complete dentition.

The sediments contain a series of well-defined hearths and a rich stone-based industry, as well as abundant animal remains. Analysis of the human remains, and dating of the site and the fossil itself, indicate a likely age of at least 177,000 years for the fossil—making it the oldest member of the Homo sapiens clade found outside Africa.

Science, this issue p. 456; see also p. 389

 

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Genetic data reveal contrasting sex bias in Neolithic and Bronze Age Eurasian migrations

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Republication from PNAS

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Amy Goldberg, Torsten Günther, Noah A. Rosenberg, and Mattias Jakobsson
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Significance

Studies of differing female and male demographic histories on the basis of ancient genomes can provide insight into the social structures and cultural interactions during major events in human prehistory. We consider the sex-specific demography of two of the largest migrations in recent European prehistory. Using genome-wide ancient genetic data from multiple Eurasian populations spanning the last 10,000 years, we find no evidence of sex-biased migrations from Anatolia, despite the shift to patrilocality associated with the spread of farming. In contrast, we infer a massive male-biased migration from the steppe during the late Neolithic and Bronze Age. The contrasting patterns of sex-specific migration during these two migrations suggest that different sociocultural processes drove the two events.

Abstract

Dramatic events in human prehistory, such as the spread of agriculture to Europe from Anatolia and the late Neolithic/Bronze Age migration from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, can be investigated using patterns of genetic variation among the people who lived in those times. In particular, studies of differing female and male demographic histories on the basis of ancient genomes can provide information about complexities of social structures and cultural interactions in prehistoric populations.

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