Pleistocene North African genomes link Near Eastern and sub-Saharan African human populations, by van de Loosdrecht et al. Science (2018).
North Africa is a key region for understanding human history, but the genetic history of its people is largely unknown. We present genomic data from seven 15,000-year-old modern humans from Morocco, attributed to the Iberomaurusian culture. We find a genetic affinity with early Holocene Near Easterners, best represented by Levantine Natufians, suggesting a pre-agricultural connection between Africa and the Near East. We do not find evidence for gene flow from Paleolithic Europeans into Late Pleistocene North Africans
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Open access paper Genetic Ancestry of Hadza and Sandawe Peoples Reveals Ancient Population Structure in Africa, by Shriner, Tekola-Ayele, Adeyemo, & Rotimi, GBE (2018).
Abstract (emphasis mine):
The Hadza and Sandawe populations in present-day Tanzania speak languages containing click sounds and therefore thought to be distantly related to southern African Khoisan languages. We analyzed genome-wide genotype data for individuals sampled from the Hadza and Sandawe populations in the context of a global data set of 3,528 individuals from 163 ethno-linguistic groups. We found that Hadza and Sandawe individuals share ancestry distinct from and most closely related to Omotic ancestry
… Read the rest “Genetic ancestry of Hadza and Sandawe peoples reveals ancient population structure in Africa”
Interesting new article (behind paywall), The demographic history and mutational load of African hunter-gatherers and farmers, Nat Ecol Evol (2018)
Abstract (emphasis mine):
Understanding how deleterious genetic variation is distributed across human populations is of key importance in evolutionary biology and medical genetics. However, the impact of population size changes and gene flow on the corresponding mutational load remains a controversial topic. Here, we report high-coverage exomes from 300 rainforest hunter-gatherers and farmers of central Africa, whose distinct subsistence strategies are expected to have impacted their demographic pasts. Detailed demographic inference indicates that hunter-gatherers and farmers recently experienced population
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Open Access Strong selection during the last millennium for African ancestry in the admixed population of Madagascar, by Pierron, Heiske, Razafindrazaka, et al. Nature Communications (2018) 9: 932.
Abstract (emphasis mine):
While admixed populations offer a unique opportunity to detect selection, the admixture in most of the studied populations occurred too recently to produce conclusive signals. By contrast, Malagasy populations originate from admixture between Asian and African populations that occurred ~27 generations ago, providing power to detect selection. We analyze local ancestry across the genomes of 700 Malagasy and identify a strong signal of recent positive selection,
… Read the rest “Signal of recent positive selection for African ancestry in the admixed population of Madagascar”
Review article On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives, by Christopher J. Bae, Katerina Douka, and Michael D. Petraglia, Science (2017)
The earliest fossils of Homo sapiens are located in Africa and dated to the late Middle Pleistocene. At some point later, modern humans dispersed into Asia and reached the far-away locales of Europe, Australia, and eventually the Americas. Given that Neandertals, Denisovans, mid-Pleistocene Homo, and H. floresiensis were present in Asia before the appearance of modern humans, the timing and nature of the spread of modern humans across Eurasia continue to be subjects of intense
… Read the rest “Review article on the origin of modern humans: the multiple-dispersal model and Late Pleistocene Asia”
New and interesting research these days in BioRxiv:
Haplotype sharing provides insights into fine-scale population history and disease in Finland, by Martín et al. (2017):
Finland provides unique opportunities to investigate population and medical genomics because of its adoption of unified national electronic health records, detailed historical and birth records, and serial population bottlenecks. We assemble a comprehensive view of recent population history (≤100 generations), the timespan during which most rare disease-causing alleles arose, by comparing pairwise haplotype sharing from 43,254 Finns to geographically and linguistically adjacent countries with different population histories, including 16,060 Swedes, Estonians, Russians, and Hungarians.
… Read the rest “New preprint papers on Finland’s population history and disease, skin pigmentation in Africa, and genetic variation in Thailand hunter-gatherers”
The publication of new ancient DNA samples from Africa is near, according to people at the SMBE meeting. As reported by Anthropology.net, a group by Pontus Skoglund has analysed new samples (complementing the study made by Carina Schlebusch), so we will have ancient samples of Africans from 300 to 6,000 years ago. They have been compared to the data of modern African populations, and among their likely conclusions (to be published):
- Several thousand years ago, likely Tanzanian herders migrated far and wide, reaching Southern Africa centuries before the first farmers.
- West Africans were likely early contributors to the
… Read the rest “Potential Afroasiatic Urheimat near Lake Megachad”
A recent online database catalogues 20,000 threatened archaeological sites: The Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) Database.
Researchers at the Universities of Oxford, Leicester and Durham created the database in 2015 with support from the Arcadia Fund, a non-profit that seeks to preserve endangered heritage sites. The EAMENA team wanted to build a uniform catalogue of historic locations that are facing a growing onslaught of threats, according to a University of Oxford press statement. The resource was only recently made available to the public.
Not all damage and threats to the archaeology can be prevented,
… Read the rest “The Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) Database”