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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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Ancient babies boost Bering land bridge layover

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Republication from University of Utah News

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Potter, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

This map shows the location of the Upward Sun River site in Alaska where the remains of two infants were found in an 11,500-year-old burial. A new University of Utah analysis shows the infants belong to two genetic groups or lineages known as B2 and C1. The maps shows other Native American groups throughout the Americas that are part of the same lineages.

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University of Utah scientists deciphered maternal genetic material from two babies buried together at an Alaskan campsite 11,500 years ago. They found the infants had different mothers and were the northernmost known kin to two lineages of Native Americans found farther south throughout North and South America.

By showing that both genetic lineages lived so far north so long ago, the study supports the “Beringian standstill model.” It says that Native Americans descended from people who migrated from Asia to Beringia – the vast Bering land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska – and then spent up to 10,000 years in Beringia before moving rapidly into the Americas beginning at least 15,000 years ago.

“These infants are the earliest human remains in northern North America, and they carry distinctly Native American lineages,” says University of Utah anthropology professor Dennis O’Rourke, senior author of the paper set for online publication the week of Oct. 26 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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New species of hominin discovered

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An international team of scientists announced the discovery Thursday of a new species of hominin, a small creature with a tiny brain that opens the door to a new way of thinking about our ancient ancestors.

The discovery of 15 individuals, consisting of 1,550 bones, represents the largest fossil hominin find on the African continent.

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Ice-age Europeans roamed in small bands of fewer than 30, on brink of extinction

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REPUBLICATION from HORIZON RESEARCH MAGAZINE

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The last ice age is associated with a major demographic bottleneck in Europe. Image: Shutterstock/ Esteban De Armas
The last ice age is associated with a major demographic bottleneck in Europe. Image: Shutterstock/ Esteban De Armas

New genomic data suggests that when Europeans emerged from the last ice age they were close to becoming extinct.

In some cases, small bands of potentially as few as 20 to 30 people could have been moving over very large areas, over the whole of Europe as a single territory, according to Professor Ron Pinhasi, principal investigator on the EU-funded ADNABIOARC project.

This demographic model is based on new evidence that suggests populations were much smaller than is generally thought to be a stable size for healthy reproduction, usually around 500 people. Such small groupings may have led to reduced fitness and even extinctions.

‘As an archaeologist and anthropologist, I was quite shocked to see how limited, how small the population numbers were. You know, shockingly small,’ said Prof. Pinhasi, based at University College Dublin, Ireland.

‘I think that what happened, it’s on a catastrophic level of demography for a long time in human evolution,’ he said.

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