Ancient Human Genome Reflects A Massive Mysterious Migration Back Into Africa

Posted: Oct 9 2015, 12:53am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 9 2015, 10:10pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Ancient Human Genome Reflects a Massive Mysterious Migration back into Africa
Credit: Eyal Bartov/Alamy

The ancient human genome was discovered in Africa and sheds light on the ancestry of early African populations.

Researchers have discovered an ancient human genome in the region of Africa for the first time. The genome was taken from the skull of a man buried around 4,500 years ago in a cave in Ethiopia and it was remained preserved in the cave for thousands of years due to its cool and dry conditions. 

The recovery of the ancient genome is quite significant because it provides new insights into the ancestry of Africans. 

Previously, it was thought that early Africans were less connected with the larger world population. But the latest finding suggests that they were interacting, forming families and building relationships with Europe and Asia and their early populations came from Eurasia. 

According to the study, some mysterious migratory event took place around 3,000 years ago and people from the region of western Eurasia flooded back into the Horn of Africa. 

When the ancient genome was compared with DNA of modern Africans, it was found that not only East African populations but, people from the all corners of the continent are closely related to Western Eurasians. 

The wave of migration was much more massive and influential than it was initially thought. Over a quarter of Eurasians, moved to Northeast Africa and spread genetically across the continent.

 “One genome from one individual can provide a picture of an entire population,” said Andrea Manica from the University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology and lead author of the study. 

"Roughly speaking, the wave of West Eurasian migration back into the Horn of Africa could have been as much as 30% of the population that already lived there - and that, to me, is mind-blowing. The question is: what got them moving all of a sudden?"

The research also tells that Eurasian migrants were also linked to Neolithic farmers that had brought agriculture in the region around 4,000 years ago. The crops of wheat and barley in East African are coincided with the arrival of Eurasian migrants.

"Genomes from this migration seeped right across the continent, way beyond East Africa, from the Yoruba on the western coast to the Mbuti in the heart of the Congo - who show as much as 7% and 6% of their genomes respectively to be West Eurasian.”Marcos Gallego Llorente, lead author of the study from Cambridge's Zoology Department said.

The reasons of this migration are yet unknown because no obvious climatic changes have been reported. But this migration has affected the genetic make-up of populations of entire world because Africa is the source of all human genetic diversity.

"Africa is a total melting pot,” said Gallego Llorente. “We know that the last 3,000 years saw a complete scrambling of population genetics in Africa. So being able to get a snapshot from before these migration events occurred is a big step.”

Source: Nature

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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