UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE—Researchers working on ancient DNA extracted from human remains interred almost 8,000 years ago in a cave in the Russian Far East have found that the genetic makeup of certain modern East Asian populations closely resemble that of their hunter-gatherer ancestors.
The study, published today in the journal Science Advances, is the first to obtain nuclear genome data from ancient mainland East Asia and compare the results to modern populations.
The findings indicate that there was no major migratory interruption, or “population turnover”, for well over seven millennia. Consequently, some contemporary ethnic groups share a remarkable genetic similarity to Stone Age hunters that once roamed the same region.
The high “genetic continuity” in East Asia is in stark contrast to most of Western Europe, where sustained migrations of early farmers from the Levant overwhelmed hunter-gatherer populations. This was followed by a wave of horse riders from Central Asia during the Bronze Age. These events were likely driven by the success of emerging technologies such as agriculture and metallurgy
The new research shows that, at least for part of East Asia, the story differs – with little genetic disruption in populations since the early Neolithic period.
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