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Current Biology

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Articles of Interest

The Neolithic Transition in the Baltic Was Not Driven by Admixture with Early European Farmers

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

The Neolithic transition was a dynamic time in European prehistory of cultural, social, and technological change. Although this period has been well explored in central Europe using ancient nuclear DNA [1, 2], its genetic impact on northern and eastern parts of this continent has not been as extensively studied. To broaden our understanding of the Neolithic transition across Europe, we analyzed eight ancient genomes: six samples (four to ∼1- to 4-fold coverage) from a 3,500 year temporal transect (∼8,300–4,800 calibrated years before present) through the Baltic region dating from the Mesolithic to the Late Neolithic and two samples spanning the Mesolithic-Neolithic boundary from the Dnieper Rapids region of Ukraine. We find evidence that some hunter-gatherer ancestry persisted across the Neolithic transition in both regions. However, we also find signals consistent with influxes of non-local people, most likely from northern Eurasia and the Pontic Steppe. During the Late Neolithic, this Steppe-related impact coincides with the proposed emergence of Indo-European languages in the Baltic region [3, 4]. These influences are distinct from the early farmer admixture that transformed the genetic landscape of central Europe, suggesting that changes associated with the Neolithic package in the Baltic were not driven by the same Anatolian-sourced genetic exchange.

Peoples: | Places: Dnieper Rapids region, Pontic Steppe, and Ukraine | Topics: Late Neolithic and Mesolithic-Neolithic | DNA Type: Ancient DNA

Genetic Discontinuity between the Maritime Archaic and Beothuk Populations in Newfoundland, Canada

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Situated at the furthest northeastern edge of Canada, the island of Newfoundland (approximately 110,000 km2) and Labrador (approximately 295,000 km2) today constitute a province characterized by abundant natural resources but low population density. Both landmasses were covered by the Laurentide ice sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum (18,000 years before present [YBP]); after the glacier retreated, ice patches remained on the island until ca. 9,000 calibrated (cal) YBP [1]. Nevertheless, indigenous peoples, whose ancestors had trekked some 5,000 km from the west coast, arrived approximately 10,000 cal YBP in Labrador and ca. 6,000 cal YBP in Newfoundland [2, 3]. Differential features in material culture indicate at least three settlement episodes by distinct cultural groups, including the Maritime Archaic, Palaeoeskimo, and Beothuk. Newfoundland has remained home to indigenous peoples until present day with only one apparent hiatus (3,400–2,800 YBP). This record suggests abandonment, severe constriction, or local extinction followed by subsequent immigrations from single or multiple source populations, but the specific dynamics and the cultural and biological relationships, if any, among these successive peoples remain enigmatic [4]. By examining the mitochondrial genome diversity and isotopic ratios of 74 ancient remains in conjunction with the archaeological record, we have provided definitive evidence for the genetic discontinuity between the maternal lineages of these populations. This northeastern margin of North America appears to have been populated multiple times by distinct groups that did not share a recent common ancestry, but rather one much deeper in time at the entry point into the continent.

Peoples: Beothuk, Maritime Archaic, and Palaeoeskimo | Places: Newfoundland | Topics: | DNA Type: mtDNA

The Demographic Development of the First Farmers in Anatolia

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2016

Abstract:

The archaeological documentation of the development of sedentary farming societies in Anatolia is not yet mirrored by a genetic understanding of the human populations involved, in contrast to the spread of farming in Europe [ 1–3 ]. Sedentary farming communities emerged in parts of the Fertile Crescent during the tenth millennium and early ninth millennium calibrated (cal) BC and had appeared in central Anatolia by 8300 cal BC [ 4 ]. Farming spread into west Anatolia by the early seventh millennium cal BC and quasi-synchronously into Europe, although the timing and process of this movement remain unclear. Using genome sequence data that we generated from nine central Anatolian Neolithic individuals, we studied the transition period from early Aceramic (Pre-Pottery) to the later Pottery Neolithic, when farming expanded west of the Fertile Crescent. We find that genetic diversity in the earliest farmers was conspicuously low, on a par with European foraging groups. With the advent of the Pottery Neolithic, genetic variation within societies reached levels later found in early European farmers. Our results confirm that the earliest Neolithic central Anatolians belonged to the same gene pool as the first Neolithic migrants spreading into Europe. Further, genetic affinities between later Anatolian farmers and fourth to third millennium BC Chalcolithic south Europeans suggest an additional wave of Anatolian migrants, after the initial Neolithic spread but before the Yamnaya-related migrations. We propose that the earliest farming societies demographically resembled foragers and that only after regional gene flow and rising heterogeneity did the farming population expansions into Europe occur.

Peoples: | Places: Fertile Crescent | Topics: early Aceramic, early European farmers, later Pottery Neolithic, and Yamnaya-related migrations | DNA Type: Ancient DNA

Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare mtDNA Haplogroups

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2009

Abstract:

Peoples: | Places: | Topics: | DNA Type: mtDNA

A Complete mtDNA Genome of an Early Modern Human from Kostenki, Russia

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2010

Abstract:

Peoples: | Places: | Topics: | DNA Type: mtDNA

A Revised Timescale for Human Evolution Based on Ancient Mitochondrial Genomes

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2013

Abstract:

Peoples: | Places: | Topics: | DNA Type: mtDNA

Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequence of the Tyrolean Iceman

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2008

Abstract:

Peoples: | Places: | Topics: | DNA Type: mtDNA

Genomic Affinities of Two 7,000-Year-Old Iberian Hunter-Gatherers

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2012

Abstract:

The genetic background of the European Mesolithic and the extent of population replacement during the Neolithic [ [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9] and [10]] is poorly understood, both due to the scarcity of human remains from that period [ [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17] and [18]] and the inherent methodological difficulties of ancient DNA research. However, advances in sequencing technologies are both increasing data yields and providing supporting evidence for data authenticity, such as nucleotide misincorporation patterns [ [19], [20], [21] and [22]]. We use these methods to characterize both the mitochondrial DNA genome and generate shotgun genomic data from two exceptionally well-preserved 7,000-year-old Mesolithic individuals from La Bra~na-Arintero site in Le'on (Northwestern Spain) [23]. The mitochondria of both individuals are assigned to U5b2c1, a haplotype common among the small number of other previously studied Mesolithic individuals from Northern and Central Europe. This suggests a remarkable genetic uniformity and little phylogeographic structure over a large geographic area of the pre-Neolithic populations. Using Approximate Bayesian Computation, a model of genetic continuity from Mesolithic to Neolithic populations is poorly supported. Furthermore, analyses of 1.34% and 0.53% of their nuclear genomes, containing about 50,000 and 20,000 ancestry informative SNPs, respectively, show that these two Mesolithic individuals are not related to current populations from either the Iberian Peninsula or Southern Europe. ^a–º The first complete Mesolithic mtDNA genome retrieved ^a–º There is a remarkable genetic uniformity in Europe during the Mesolithic period ^a–º Modern Iberians are not direct descendants of the 7,000-year-old hunter-gatherers ^a–º Genetic discontinuity between Mesolithic/Neolithic populations supported by simulations

Peoples: | Places: | Topics: | DNA Type:

The human genetic history of East Asia: weaving a complex tapestry

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2010

Abstract:

East Asia encompasses a wide variety of environments, peoples, cultures and languages. Although this review focuses on East Asia, no geographic region can be considered in isolation in terms of human population history, and migrations to and from East Asia have had a major impact. Here, we review the following topics: the initial colonization of East Asia, the direction of migrations between southeast Asia and northern Asia, the genetic relationships of East Asian hunter-gatherers and the genetic impact of various social practices on East Asian populations. By necessity we focus on insights derived from mitochondrial DNA and/or Y-chromosome data; ongoing and future studies of genome-wide SNP or multi-locus re-sequencing data, combined with the use of simulation, model-based methods to infer demographic parameters, will undoubtedly provide additional insights into the population history of East Asia.

Peoples: - | Places: - | Topics: - | DNA Type: Y-DNA

The human genetic history of South Asia

Journal: Current Biology | Year: 2010

Abstract:

South Asia — comprising India, Pakistan, countries in the sub-Himalayan region and Myanmar — was one of the first geographical regions to have been peopled by modern humans. This region has served as a major route of dispersal to other geographical regions, including southeast Asia. The Indian society comprises tribal, ranked caste, and other populations that are largely endogamous. As a result of evolutionary antiquity and endogamy, populations of India show high genetic differentiation and extensive structuring. Linguistic differences of populations provide the best explanation of genetic differences observed in this region of the world. Within India, consistent with social history, extant populations inhabiting northern regions show closer affinities with Indo-European speaking populations of central Asia that those inhabiting southern regions. Extant southern Indian populations may have been derived from early colonizers arriving from Africa along the southern exit route. The higher-ranked caste populations, who were the torch-bearers of Hindu rituals, show closer affinities with central Asian, Indo-European speaking, populations.

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