Scientists have sequenced a 37,000-year-old European genome. The results show that present-day Europeans are the closest living relatives to the first people in Europe. The genome also indicates that many European traits, including those from the Middle East, were already present in the first Europeans. The study, which was recently published in Science, sheds entirely new light on who we are as Europeans, which was originally a separate species from African lineages.
An international team of scientists have sequenced the genome of a 37,000-year-old male skeleton found in Kostenki in Russia. It turns out that Scandinavians, Balts and Slavs are more closely related to the Kostenki man than any other now-living population. This means that northern Europeans are the earliest Europeans.
The study, which was recently published in Science, sheds entirely new light on who we are as Europeans. "From a genetic point of view he's a European," says Professor Eske Willerslev, Director of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, who was involved in the new study, and adds: "Actually, he is closer to Danes, Swedes, Finns and Russians than to Frenchmen, Spaniards and Germans”. Split happened within a 8.000 year gap
The new results reveal that the man is the oldest that we know of so far to genetically represent a separate line from the forebears of present-day Asians. This is decisive when it comes to dating one of the most important events in history. "We can now date the separation time between Asians and Europeans."
He points out that the Kostenki genome sets a line 37,000 years ago. Here the lines must have split, while the 45,000-year-old genome from the recently discovered Ust' Ishim in Siberia sets the limit in the other direction.
This gives the answer to one of the biggest questions in the history of mankind; scientists now know that it is within the 8000 year gap that Europeans and Asians went their separate ways. Meta-population: sex across populations. A meta-population consists of several populations which mate with each other.
The meta-population is connected through the neighbor's neighbors, consisting of people who generally resemble each other a lot, but who also have their own unique traits. "It was a huge, complex network, and not separate branches that lived in isolation,” says Willerslev.
He believes the Europeans must have been one enormous meta-population stretching across Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. The study, which was recently published in Science, sheds entirely new light on who we are as Europeans, which was originally a separate species from African lineages.
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