DNA study dates Eurasian split

(File)
(File)
Shutterstock [http://www.shutterstock.com]

Berlin - The human populations now predominant in Eurasia and East Asia probably split between 36 200 and 45 000 years ago, according to a study.

Researchers used new techniques to analyse genetic samples from the shin bone of a young man who died at least 36 200 years ago near Kostenki-Borshchevo in what is now western Russia.

The study, published in the journal Science, concludes that Kostenki man shared genetic sequences with contemporary Europeans, but not East Asians.

A separate study published last month in the journal Nature determined that a 45 000-year old sample found in Siberia contained sequences ancestral to both modern East Asians and Europeans.

Glaciers receded

Taken together, these two studies suggest a time frame of about 9 000 years in which the two genetic populations could have diverged, said Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, one of the authors of the Science paper.

Even on its own, the Kostenki sample challenges previous theories that modern Europeans emerged only when hunter-gatherers mixed with a farming population that moved in from the Middle East after Ice Age glaciers receded from Europe about 10 000 years ago, the start of a period known as the Neolithic.

Although Kostenki man - who had dark skin, brown eyes and was relatively short - belonged to a group of humans that ultimately died out. 

The DNA fragments he left are enough to draw a line in European genetic history going back at least 36 000 years, said evolutionary biologist Marta Mirazon Lahr of the University of Cambridge, another author of the Science study.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
13% - 209 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
24% - 372 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 982 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.45
(-1.47)
ZAR/GBP
20.61
(-1.49)
ZAR/EUR
18.44
(-1.16)
ZAR/AUD
11.35
(-0.74)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(-1.20)
Gold
1776.65
(-0.54)
Silver
22.60
(-0.10)
Platinum
962.50
(+0.06)
Brent Crude
47.90
(0.00)
Palladium
2364.69
(-1.94)
All Share
57091.89
(-1.26)
Top 40
52375.50
(-1.22)
Financial 15
11158.56
(-3.62)
Industrial 25
78965.65
(-1.16)
Resource 10
52703.42
(-0.19)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo