DNA studies are rewriting the how-we-met stories of domestication.
Europeans may be descendants of a massive migration of men from the Russian steppe
The multitude of bison fossils found on the plains of Alberta, or their extracted mtDNA, have shed much needed light on just when the much vaunted Corridor opened between North America’s two great Ice Sheets. It has long been theorized that the First Americans passed through this Corridor to colonize the rest of the Americas.
In the 1970s, geological studies suggested that the corridor might have been the pathway for the first movement of humans southward from Alaska to colonize the rest of the Americas. More recent evidence, however, indicated that the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets coalesced at the height of the last ice age, around 21,000 years ago, closing the corridor much earlier than any evidence of humans south of the ice sheets. The initial southward movement of people into the Americas more than 15,000 years ago now seems likely to have been via a Pacific coastal route, but the Rocky Mountains corridor has remained of interest as a potential route for later migrations…The results showed that the southern part of the corridor opened first, allowing southern bison to start moving northward as early as 13,400 years ago, before the corridor fully opened. Later, there was some movement of northern bison southward, with the two populations overlapping in the corridor by 13,000 years ago…According to Shapiro, archeological evidence suggests that human migration within the corridor was mostly from south to north. Sites associated with the Clovis hunting culture and its distinctive fluted point technology were widespread south of the corridor around 13,000 years ago and decline in abundance from south to north within the corridor region. A Clovis site in Alaska has been dated to no earlier than 12,400 years ago.
“When the corridor opened, people were already living south of there. And because those people were bison hunters, we can assume they would have followed the bison as they moved north into the corridor,” Shapiro said.
- Ice age bison fossils shed light on early human migrations in North America – University of California – Santa Cruz (EurekAlert!)
June 6, 2016
Proving, once again, there is truth to found in the old tales, a body found in a well confirms events told in Sverre’s Saga, one of the Old Norse tales of Viking Kings and war.
- Body in well confirms Viking Saga – Past Horizons
June 10, 2016
Agriculture was developed a LOT earlier than previously thought, like 25 to 30 million years ago. You read that right. Million. And, here’s the real kicker, not by humans but by bugs. Termites actually cultivate fungi “gardens” within their mounds. This “fungiculture” began in Africa about the time the Great Rift Valley formed so that probably had something to do with it.
- The world’s oldest farmers – James Cook University (EurekAlert!)
June 22, 2016
- Researchers discover oldest evidence of ‘farming’ — by insects – National Science Foundation (EurekAlert!)
June 23, 2016
The largest ever study of global genetic variation in the human Y chromosome has uncovered the hidden history of men. Research reveals explosions in male population numbers in five continents, occurring at times between 55,000 and 4,000 years ago.
- Modern DNA reveals ancient male population explosions linked to migration and technology – Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
April 25, 2016
Here’s a more Euro-centric, and less sciencey, spin:
- Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ – The Telegraph – Science
April 25, 2016
A research team led by Prof. FU Qiaomei from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IVPP of CAS) and other international scientists has analyzed genome-wide data from 51 Eurasians from ~45,000-7,000 years ago and provided the first vivid look at the genetic history of modern humans in Eurasia before the start of agriculture ~8,500 years ago.
- Genetic analysis of Ice Age Europeans – Phys.org
May 2, 2016
- The genetic history of Ice Age Europe – Nature (Abstract)
May 2, 2016
- The Genetic History of Ice Age Europe – The Howard Hughes Medical Institute
May 2, 2016
- DNA secrets of Ice Age Europe unlocked – BBB News
May 2, 2016
- Drawing the genetic history of Ice Age Eurasian populations – EurekAlert!
May 4, 2016
A new study suggests that Neanderthals across Europe may well have been infected with diseases carried out of Africa by waves of anatomically modern humans, or Homo sapiens. As both were species of hominin, it would have been easier for pathogens to jump populations, say researchers. This might have contributed to the demise of Neanderthals.
Lots of nerdly morsels to feed the brain this morning.
Archaeologists in Italy have discovered what may be a rare Etruscan sacred text likely to yield rich details about Etruscan worship and early beliefs of a lost culture fundamental to western traditions. The lengthy text is on a large 6th century sandstone slab uncovered from an Etruscan temple, said Gregory Warden, principal investigator of Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which made the discovery, and professor emeritus, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, main sponsor of the project.
Source: Text in lost language may reveal god or goddess worshiped by Etruscans at ancient temple – EurekAlert! (Southern Methodist University)
March 29, 2016
An ancient species of pint-sized humans discovered in the tropics of Indonesia may have met their demise earlier than once believed, according to an international team of scientists who reinvestigated the original finding. Published in the journal Nature this week, the group challenges reports that these inhabitants of remote Flores island co-existed with modern humans for tens of thousands of years.
Source: Indonesian ‘Hobbits’ may have died out sooner than thought – EurekAlert! (Griffith University)
March 30, 2016
The heavily studied yet largely unexplained disappearance of ancestral Pueblo people from southwest Colorado is not all that unique, say Washington State University scientists. Writing in the journal Science Advances, they say the region saw three other cultural transitions over the preceding five centuries. The researchers also document recurring narratives in which the Pueblo people agreed on canons of ritual, behavior and belief that quickly dissolved as climate change hurt crops and precipitated social turmoil and violence.
Source: Ancient Southwest marked by repeated periods of boom and bust – EurekAlert! (Washington State University)
April 1, 2016
The first large-scale study of ancient DNA from early American people has confirmed the devastating impact of European colonization on the Indigenous American populations of the time.
Source: Ancient DNA shows European wipe-out of early Americans – EurekAlert! (University of Adelaide)
April 1, 2016
With the help of detailed satellite images, scientists have uncovered what may be a previously unknown Viking settlement in Newfoundland, Canada, news sources report.
Source: Satellite Images Reveal Possible Viking Settlement in Canada – Live Science
April 1, 2016
Phytoliths and biomolecular components extracted from ancient plant remains from Chang’an (Xi’an, the city where the Silk Road begins) and Ngari (Ali) in western Tibet, China, show that the tea was grown 2100 years ago to cater for the drinking habits of the Western Han Dynasty (207BCE-9CE), and then carried toward central Asia by ca.200CE, several hundred years earlier than previously recorded.
Grisly find suggests Bronze Age northern Europe was more organized—and violent—than thought
Scientists say these bones may challenge our understanding of Irish identity.