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Thread: The Genetic History of Ice Age Europe

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    The Genetic History of Ice Age Europe

    Most of the Neandertal ancestry of the earliest AMH in Europe was gone by the Mesolithic. There was an expansion out of Southwest Europe 19,000 years ago and another out of West Asia and the Agean 14,000 years ago.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...ture17993.html

    http://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2016/0...ge-europe.html

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    Lightbulb DNA Secrets of Ice Age Europe Unlocked



    Gravettian skulls

    A study of DNA from ancient human bones has helped unlock the secrets of Europe's Ice Age inhabitants. Researchers analysed the genomes of 51 individuals who lived between 45,000 years ago and 7,000 years ago.

    The results reveal details about the biology of these early inhabitants, such as skin and eye colour, and how different populations were related. It also shows that Neanderthal ancestry in Europeans has been shrinking over time, perhaps due to natural selection.

    The study in Nature journal shines a torchlight over some 40,000 years of prehistory, showing that ancient patterns of migration were just as complex as those in more recent times.

    Some of the earliest arrivals on the continent contributed little to later populations. But between 37,000 years ago and 14,000 years ago, different groups of Europeans were descended from a single founder population.

    The fortunes of these human hunting groups were often linked to changes in the climate.

    Co-author Prof David Reich, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, said the 51 ancient individuals comprised "a pretty substantial fraction of the known human skeletons in this period".

    He told BBC News: "Because we've studied so many ancient humans from Europe from the beginning of the modern human occupation, we're able to form a picture of how populations transformed over time."

    Prof Reich, Svante Paabo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and others found evidence that people belonging to one of Europe's most important Ice Age cultures - the Aurignacian - were displaced between 34,000 and 26,000 years ago by another group of humans called the Gravettians.

    After 14,000 years ago, Europeans became more closely related to populations from the Middle East, the Caucasus and Turkey. This happens to coincide with the first major warming period at the end of the Ice Age and could reflect an expansion of people from the South-East.

    "We see multiple, huge movements of people displacing previous ones," said Prof Reich. "During this first four-fifths of modern human history in Europe, history is just as complicated as it is during the last fifth that we know so much more about."

    Research on that last fifth of population history has revealed that mass movements of people in the Neolithic period (from 7,000 years ago) and the Bronze Age (5,000 years ago) transformed the genetic landscape of Europe.

    Analysis of genes carried by Ice Age Europeans shows, among other things, that they had dark complexions and brown eyes. Only after 14,000 years ago did blue eyes begin to spread, and pale skin only appeared across much of the continent after 7,000 years ago - borne by early farmers from the Near East.

    Early European populations possessed more Neanderthal ancestry than present-day people, consistent with the idea that much of the DNA we inherited from the Neanderthals had harmful effects. Scientists think this inheritance was progressively lost via natural selection.

    What seems clear is that most modern populations offer only hazy glimpses into the past, because their genetics are shaped by relatively recent patterns of migration.

    Insights like those from this study have only been made possible by dramatic progress in the last two decades on techniques for analysing degraded DNA from ancient remains.

    "A lot of amazing work was done [previously] to develop and use sophisticated methods to forensically piece apart patterns based on populations today," Prof Reich told BBC News.

    "But it's a little bit like trying to dissect the ingredients that go into the batter of a cake from the mixed up batter... how much flour, how much egg, how much sugar, how much butter.

    "You could do it if you worked really hard and knew the chemistry. But what if you could go back to when they were adding in the butter, adding in the sugar, adding in the flour and measure how much was added in each time."

    The Aurignacians: A 35,000-year-old male from Goyet, Belgium, belonged to a distinctive branch of the Ice Age population. DNA was extracted from the upper arm bone of the hunter, who was associated with the Aurignacian archaeological culture.

    The Gravettians: This ancestral group displaced the Aurignacians to dominate much of Europe from 34,000 to 26,000 years ago. Though they carried distinct genetic signatures, the Gravettians and Aurignacians were descended from the same ancient founder population.

    The Magdalenians: The Aurignacian genetic signature disappeared from much of Europe when the Gravettians arrived. But it resurfaced 15,000 years later in the "Red Lady of El Mirón Cave" from northern Spain (pictured). This tall, robust woman was a member of the Magdalenian archaeological culture, which expanded north as the ice sheets melted.

    The Villabruna cluster: From about 14,000 years ago, the gene pools of Europe and the Middle East draw closer together - perhaps reflecting an expansion of people from the south-east. This genetic cluster is named after a male hunter from Villabruna, Italy, who had dark skin and blue eyes.

    Source: BBC
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    Lightbulb 64% of Modern European Men descend from just 3 Bronze Age Males

    Most European men descend from just three Bronze Age dominant forefathers who began a ‘population explosion’ several thousand years ago.

    A research team from the University of Leicester looked at the DNA sequences of 334 men from 17 European and Middle Eastern populations.
    The study shows that almost two out of three modern European men (64 per cent) were descended from just three males.

    Archaeologists have been puzzled about whether European populations started to surge in the stone age or later. But the new research appears to suggest that there was a rapid expansion of communities in the succeeding Bronze Age.

    It appears that that between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago there was a raid explosion in the size of populations from the Balkans to the British Isles.
    Professor Mark Jobling from the Department of Genetics at Leicester University said: “The population expansion falls within the Bronze Age, which involved changes in burial practices, the spread of horse-riding and developments in weaponry.

    "Dominant males linked with these cultures could be responsible for the Y chromosome patterns we see today."

    Now the team is hoping to study skeletal remains to see if they can pinpoint the exact period that triggered the sudden population expansion
    Study lead author Chiara Batini, from the University of Leicester's Department of Genetics, added: "Given the cultural complexity of the Bronze Age, it's difficult to link a particular event to the population growth that we infer.

    "But Y-chromosome DNA sequences from skeletal remains are becoming available, and this will help us to understand what happened, and when."
    The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/scie...ancestors.html

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