08 Apr 2021 10:03:10 AM IST
The genetic sequencing of human remains from 45,000 years ago has revealed a previously unknown migration in Europe and showed that intermingling with Neanderthals was more frequent than previously assumed during this period. The research is based on the analysis of several ancient human remains – including a whole tooth and fragment of bone – found in a cave in Bulgaria last year. Genetic sequencing revealed that the remains came from people more closely related to the current population in East Asia and America than to the population in Europe.
“This suggests that they were part of a modern human migration to Europe that was previously unknown to the genetic archives,” said the study published in the journal on Wednesday naturesaid.
It “also provides evidence that there was at least some continuity between people of early modern times in Europe and later people in Eurasia,” the study added.
The results “have changed our previous understanding of early human migration in Europe,” said Mateja Hajdinjak, associate researcher at the German Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, who led the research.
“It showed that even the very first history of modern Europeans in Europe could have been turbulent and replaced the population,” she said. AFP.
One possibility emerging from the results is “a dispersion of human groups that will later be replaced in Western Eurasia (by other groups) but will continue to live and contribute to the ancestry of people in Eastern Eurasia,” she added .
The remains were discovered last year in the Bacho Kiro cave in Bulgaria and were celebrated at the time as evidence that humans lived alongside Neanderthals in Europe much earlier than previously thought.
Genetic analysis also found that modern humans in Europe at that time mixed more with Neanderthals than previously thought.
All “individuals in Bacho Kiro caves have Neanderthal ancestors five to seven generations prior to life, suggesting that intermingling (blending) was common between these early humans in Europe and Neanderthals,” Hajdinjak said.
Earlier evidence of early intermingling between humans and Neanderthals in Europe came from a single person named Oasis 1 who was 40,000 years old and was found in Romania.
“Until now, we couldn’t rule out that this was an accidental discovery,” said Hajdinjak. “Our study suggests that… (this) must have been common. “”
Human history “lost in time”
The results were accompanied by separate research published Wednesday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution that concerned the genome sequencing of samples from a skull found in the Czech Republic.
The skull was found in the Zlaty Kun area in 1950, but its age has been the subject of debate and conflicting results in the decades since.
Initial analysis found it to be over 30,000 years old, but radiocarbon dating found it to be closer to 15,000 years old.
The genetic analysis now seems to have solved the problem and suggests an age of at least 45,000 years, said Kay Prufer from the Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute, which led the research.
“We take advantage of the fact that anyone who traces their ancestry back to people who left Africa over 50,000 years ago has a Neanderthal ancestry in their genome,” he said. AFP.
These traces of Neanderthals appear in short blocks in the modern human genome and increasingly longer later in human history.
“With older people like the 45,000-year-old Ust’-Ishim from Siberia, these blocks are much longer,” said Prufer. “We find that the genome of the female Zlaty-kun is blocked even longer than that of the male Ust’-Ishim. This makes us confident that she lived at the same time, if not earlier. “”
Although Zlaty Kun’s skull is from roughly the same period as the remains of Bacho Kiro, it does not share any genetic connections with modern Asian or European populations.
Prufer now hopes to investigate how the populations that produced the two remains are related.
“We don’t know who the first Europeans were to venture into an unknown country,” he said. “By analyzing their genomes, we discover a part of our own history that has been lost over time. “”
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