Found on the DNA of an unknown group of people in prehistoric Siberia

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 Unknown group of people found by DNA in prehistoric Siberia

Genetic analysis has revealed a previously unknown group of people who lived in Siberia during the last ice age on the borders of modern Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. This enigmatic group was linked to numerous people who traveled to North America.
Some of them migrated in the opposite direction – from North America to North Asia across the Bering Sea.

Scientists from the Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. Max Planck analyzed the genomes of ten people who lived in the Altai region in southern Siberia about 7,500 years ago. In combination with this, they studied the genetic composition of the modern population of Eurasia and Native Americans. The results of the study showed that the Altai hunter-gatherers had a “unique gene pool”, indicating that they were descendants of two key groups living at that time in this part Eurasia – Paleo-Siberians and ancient North Eurasians.

“We describe a previously unknown 7,500-year-old hunter-gatherer population in the Altai, which is a mixture of two distinct groups that lived in Siberia during the last ice age”,– says Cosimo Post, senior author of the study at the University of Tübingen in Germany. “The Altai hunter-gatherer group has contributed to many modern and subsequent populations throughout North Asia, showing the high mobility of these communities.”

The researchers also found links between the Neolithic people in the Russian Far East and the Jomon hunter-gatherers who lived in the Japanese archipelago. In other words, genetic analysis shows that this vast stretch of northern Asia, southern Siberia and North America was already home to closely related ethnic groups.

“It is interesting that a man from Nizhnetytkesken was found in a cave with rich grave goods, a religious costume and items for shamanism”,– says Ke Wang, lead author of the study from Fudan University in China. “His grave goods look different than in other archaeological contexts, implying the mobility of both culturally and genetically diverse people in the Altai region”.

Another important discovery was that some migrants, having reached North America “turned around” and went to Eurasia. The genetic make-up of present-day inhabitants of northeastern Siberia provides strong evidence of Native American genetic flow. Hunter-gatherer genetics in the Altai indicate that this part of Eurasia was inhabited by closely related groups as early as 10,000 years ago, who traveled vast distances between continents.

“This suggests that human migration was already the norm, not the exception, for ancient hunter-gatherer societies”, – scientists conclude.

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