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Until recently, very little was known about the genetic relationship between modern humans of the Upper Paleolithic age (the period of time between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, also called the Late Stone age) and today's populations. But with direct DNA sequencing, researchers are discovering unexpected genetic connections between individuals on opposing sides of Eurasia. These suggest a complex history that may represent early gene flow across Eurasia or an early population structure that eventually led to Europeans and Asians.
In a review published in the journal Trends in Genetics on January 25, scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing discuss what we know about the genetics of ancient individuals from Eurasia (Europe and Western Asia) between 45,000-7,500 years ago. The authors summarized work that investigated the genomes of more than 20 ancients in the Eurasian family tree, including the 45,000-year-old Ust'-Ishim individual from Central Siberia, for their paper.
Individuals - Fact - Region - Time - Periods
"Aside from these individuals, it is a fact that sampling for the Eurasian region is sparse for all time periods except the present-day," says co-author Qiaomei Fu, a paleogeneticist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "But with the information from the several individuals available for ancient DNA sequencing we do have hints at interesting population structure, migration and interaction in East Asia."
The researchers learned that in Eurasia between 35,000 and 45,000 years ago, at least four distinct populations were present. These were early Asian and Europeans, as well as populations with ancestry hardly found or not at all in modern populations. By 15,000-34,000 years ago, however, DNA sequencing showed that modern humans in Eurasia are similar to either Europeans or to...
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