WEB EXCLUSIVE

Old Stock

Where did Europeans come from?

Sunday, November 13, 2005
RELATED TAGS: ARCHAEOLOGY
sciancestry
sciancestry
A Neolithic burial from Germany yields clues into
the genetics of the first European farmers
about 7,500 years ago and their legacy on Europeans
today.

Anthropologists have never been quite sure whether modern Europeans are descended from an ancient stock of Paleolithic hunter gatherers who roamed the continent 40,000 odd years ago or from a much more recent influx of farmers who arrived after the end of the most recent glaciation 10,000 years ago. In an attempt to settle the debate, researchers led by Wolfgang Haak of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, compared mitochondrial DNA and found that the farmers carry a variant rarely found in living Europeans, suggesting the farmers' legacy was more cultural than genetic. Although Stone Age Europeans probably picked up agricultural techniques from these farmers and interbred somewhat, they still form the main source of ancestry of today's Europe. More from sciencemag.org

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