Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




ABOUT US
Genes shed light on spread of agriculture in Stone Age Europe
by Staff Writers
Uppsala, Sweden (SPX) May 04, 2012


The study involved thousands of genetic markers from the four Stone Age individuals, of which three were hunter-gatherers and one was from an agricultural culture. All of the archaeological data shows that the Stone Age farmer was representative of his time and group and was born and raised near the place of his burial. The researchers compared their findings with a large amount of genetic data from living individuals.

One of the most debated developments in human history is the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies. This week's edition of Science presents the genetic findings of a Swedish-Danish research team, which show that agriculture spread to Northern Europe via migration from Southern Europe.

"We have been able to show that the genetic variation of today's Europeans was strongly affected by immigrant Stone Age farmers, though a number of hunter-gatherer genes remain," says Assistant Professor Anders Gotherstrom of the Evolutionary Biology Centre, who, along with Assistant Professor Mattias Jakobsson, co-led the study, a collaboration with Stockholm University and the University of Copenhagen.

"What is interesting and surprising is that Stone Age farmers and hunter-gatherers from the same time had entirely different genetic backgrounds and lived side by side for more than a thousand years, to finally interbreed," Mattias Jakobsson says.

Agriculture developed in the Middle East about 11,000 years ago and by about 5,000 years ago had reached most of Continental Europe. How the spread of agriculture progressed and how it affected the people living in Europe have been debated for almost 100 years.

Earlier studies were largely based on small amounts of genetic data and were therefore unable to provide univocal answers. Was agriculture an idea that spread across Europe or a technique that a group of migrants took with them to different regions of the continent?

"Many attempts, including using genetics, have been made to come to terms with the problem since the significance of the spread of agriculture was established almost 100 years ago," Anders Gotherstrom says.

"Our success in carrying out this study depended on access to good material, modern laboratory methods and a high level of analytical expertise."

The study in question entailed the research team using advanced DNA techniques to characterise almost 250 million base pairs from four skeletons of humans who lived in Sweden during the Stone Age, 5,000 years ago. Just ensuring that the DNA obtained from archaeological material is truly old and uncontaminated by modern DNA requires the use of advanced molecular and statistical methods.

The study involved thousands of genetic markers from the four Stone Age individuals, of which three were hunter-gatherers and one was from an agricultural culture. All of the archaeological data shows that the Stone Age farmer was representative of his time and group and was born and raised near the place of his burial. The researchers compared their findings with a large amount of genetic data from living individuals.

"The Stone Age farmer's genetic profile matched that of people currently living in the vicinity of the Mediterranean, on Cyprus, for example," says Pontus Skoglund, a doctoral student who developed new analytical methods used in the study. "The three hunter-gatherers from the same time most resembled Northern Europeans, without exactly matching any particular group."

Accordingly, the study strongly supports the thesis that the agricultural revolution was driven by people who migrated from Southern Europe. That they lived side by side with the hunter-gatherers for many generations, to eventually interbreed, explains the patterns of genetic variation that characterise present-day Europeans.

"The process appears in the end to have had the result that nobody today has the same genetic profile as the original hunter-gatherers, although they continue to be represented in the genetic heritage of today's Europeans," Pontus Skoglund says.

Jan Stora, researcher at Stockholm University, says the results are extremely exciting for archaeology in general and research into the Stone Age in particular.

"Archaeology has become a stimulating interdisciplinary field. We have obtained new, concrete biological data about Stone Age people that provides scope for discussions about origins, mobility and social networks pertaining to a period that has lately been the focus of lively debate. Scientific DNA studies have broadened the basis for engaging discussions within archaeology in recent years," Jan Stora says.

.


Related Links
Uppsala University
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





ABOUT US
A middle-ear microphone
Salt Lake City UT (SPX) May 02, 2012
Cochlear implants have restored basic hearing to some 220,000 deaf people, yet a microphone and related electronics must be worn outside the head, raising reliability issues, preventing patients from swimming and creating social stigma. Now, a University of Utah engineer and colleagues in Ohio have developed a tiny prototype microphone that can be implanted in the middle ear to avoid such ... read more


ABOUT US
Clinton to leave China for Bangladesh cauldron

Japan to go nuclear-free for first time since 1970

S. Korea starts building new nuclear reactors

Can Nature's Beauty Lift Citizens From Poverty?

ABOUT US
At smallest scale, liquid crystal behavior portends new materials

Electronic nose out in front

Squid and zebrafish cells inspire camouflaging smart materials

Apple iPad outmuscles Android in global tablet sales

ABOUT US
From Decade to Decade: What's the Status of our Groundwater Quality?

Geophysicists employ novel method to identify sources of global sea level rise

Strike at Amazon dam project in second week

Old maps and dead clams help solve coastal boulder mystery

ABOUT US
Antarctic waters changing due to climate: study

Greenland glaciers may melt slower than thought: study

Reykjavik mulls letting Chinese tycoon lease land

Antarctic albatross displays shift in breeding habits

ABOUT US
Study Shows Experiments Underestimate Plant Responses to Climate Change

Bioluminescent technology for easy tracking of GMO

China's Bright Food says it will buy 60% of Weetabix

Drought leaves mark on Chile's wines

ABOUT US
First-of-its-kind study reveals surprising ecological effects of earthquake and tsunami

Yellowstone 'super-eruption' less super, more frequent than thought

Sodden Britain braced for more floods

Strong quake strikes off Mexico coast: USGS

ABOUT US
W. Africa bloc threatens coup leaders in Mali, G. Bissau

Boko Haram targets media in Nigeria

Zimbabwe PM calls for reforms before election

DR Congo army pursuing rebels after clashes

ABOUT US
Genes shed light on spread of agriculture in Stone Age Europe

A middle-ear microphone

'Inhabitants of Madrid' ate elephants' meat and bone marrow 80,000 years ago

Eating more berries may reduce cognitive decline in the elderly




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement