Genetic sequencing of human remains dating back 45,000 years has revealed a previously unknown migration to Europe and showed intermingling with it Neanderthals In that period it was more common than previously thought.
The research is based on the analysis of many ancient human remains – including whole teeth and bone fragments – found in Cave in Bulgaria last year.
The genetic sequence found that the remains came from individuals who were more closely related to the present-day populations of East Asia and the Americas than from populations in Europe.
“This indicates that they belong to a recent human migration to Europe that was previously unknown from the genetic record,” said the research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
The study added that it “provides evidence of at least some continuity between the earliest modern humans in Europe and later people in Eurasia.”
Matija Hajdingak, an associate researcher at the German Max Planck Institute for Evolution, said the results “changed our previous understanding of early human migration to Europe.” anthropologist Who helped lead the search.
“It showed how the earliest history of contemporary Europeans in Europe may have been turbulent and involved population replacement,” she told AFP.
One possibility raised by the results is “the dispersal of human populations that are then replaced.” [by other groups] Later in Western Eurasia, but continue to live and contribute to ancestry to the people of Eastern Eurasia, ”she added.
The remains were discovered last year in the Bachu Kiro Cave in Bulgaria and hailed at the time as evidence that humans lived side by side. Neanderthals In Europe significantly earlier than previously thought.
The genetic analysis of the remains also revealed that modern humans in Europe at the time mixed with Neanderthals more than previously assumed.
All members of the “Pachu Kiro Cave have Neanderthal ancestors five to seven generations before they lived, indicating that the mixture [mixing] Among these early humans in Europe a Neanderthal was a common occurrence. ”
Previous evidence of early mixing of humans and Neanderthals in Europe came from a single individual called Oase 1, dating back 40,000 years and found in Romania.
“So far, we cannot rule out that it is an opportunity,” Hajdengak said.
The results were accompanied by separate research published Wednesday in the journal Nature Ecology has evolved Involving genome sequencing of skull samples found in the Czech Republic.
The skull was found in the Zlate-Kuhn region in 1950, but its age has been the subject of debate and contradictory findings in the decades that followed.
Initial analysis suggested it was 30,000 years older, but radiocarbon dating gave an age closer to 15,000 years.
Genetic analysis now appears to have solved the problem, indicating that it is at least 45,000 years old, said Kai Brover of the department of archeology at the Max Planck Institute, who led the research.
“We are taking advantage of the fact that everyone who traces their ancestors to individuals who left Africa more than 50,000 years ago carries a few Neanderthal origins in their genomes,” he told France Press.
These Neanderthal traces appear in short clumps in the modern human genome, and increasingly longer ones in human history.
“In older individuals, such as the 45,000-year-old Ust’-Ishim man from Siberia, these lumps are much longer,” Brover said.
“We found that the genome of the Zlaty kun woman had clumps even longer than that of the Ust’-Ishim man. This makes us confident that she lived at the same time, or even earlier. ”
Although the Zlaty kun skull dates from about the same period as the remains of the Bacho Kiro, it does not share genetic links with modern Asian or European populations.
Brover now hopes to study how the populations that produced the two sets of remains are related.
He said, “We do not know who were the first Europeans who ventured into an unknown land.”
“By analyzing their genomes, we are discovering a part of our history that was lost in time.”