DNA from fossils unearthed in southern China dating back 14,000 years suggests Native Americans have East Asian roots
- Fossils found in China show Native Americans may have genetic roots in East Asia
- The data will help us understand “how humans change their physical appearance by adapting to local environments over time,” says study co-author Bing Su.
DNA from ancient fossils from southern China has revealed that Native Americans may have roots in East Asia.
Scientists compared the genetic information of Late Pleistocene fossils to that of humans around the world.
They discovered that the bones belonged to an individual with deep ties to Native American East Asian ancestry.
Archaeologists had successfully sequenced the genome of the fossils.
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Researchers have successfully sequenced the genome of Late Pleistocene fossils for the first time. Pictured above is a side view of the skull unearthed from Red Deer Cave
“The ancient DNA technique is a really powerful tool,” says Bing Su, a co-author of the study who works at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“This tells us quite definitively that the inhabitants of Red Deer Cave were modern humans instead of an archaic species, such as Neanderthals or Denisovans, despite their unusual morphological characteristics.”
They proposed that some of the southern East Asian peoples traveled north along the coast of present-day China through Japan and eventually reached Siberia.
“This tells us quite definitively that the inhabitants of Red Deer Cave were modern humans instead of an archaic species, like Neanderthals or Denisovans, despite their unusual morphological characteristics,” says Bing Su, co-author of the paper. ‘study. Pictured is the reproduced portrait of the cave people of Red Deer or Mengziren
It is believed that they then crossed the Bering Strait between Asia and North America to become the first people to arrive in the New World.
The work that led to these discoveries began more than thirty years ago.
Around this time, a group of archaeologists in China discovered a large set of bones in the Maludong, or Red Deer Cave, in Yunnan Province, southern China.
Archaeologists have used carbon dating – which uses the relative proportions of carbon isotopes carbon-12 and carbon-14 to determine the age of organic matter – to show the fossils were from the Late Pleistocene around 14,000 years ago. year.
The discovery dates back to work that began decades ago when archaeologists found a large set of bones in the Maludong, or Red Deer Cave, pictured above.
It was a time when modern humans had migrated to many parts of the world.
Researchers recovered a hominid skullcap from the cave that had characteristics of both modern and archaic humans.
For example, the shape of the skull resembled that of Neanderthals and its brain appeared to be smaller than that of modern humans.
As a result, some anthropologists had thought that the skull probably belonged to an unknown archaic human species that lived until fairly recently or to a hybrid population of archaic and modern humans.
The discovery contributes to our understanding of the rich genetic diversity of hominins living at this time in southern East Asia.
Su says this suggests that the early humans who first arrived in East Asia originally settled in the south before some of them moved north.
“It’s an important piece of evidence for understanding early human migration,” he explains.
“These data will not only help us paint a more complete picture of how our ancestors migrated, but will also contain important information about how humans change their physical appearance by adapting to local environments over time, such as as skin color changes in response to changes in sun exposure,” says Su.
The team’s findings were published July 14 in the journal Current Biology.
DNA: A COMPLEX CHEMICAL CARRYING GENETIC INFORMATION IN ALMOST ALL ORGANISMS
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is a complex chemical in almost all organisms that carries genetic information.
It is located in the chromosomes of the cell nucleus and almost all cells in a person’s body have the same DNA.
It is made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T).
The double helix structure of DNA arises from the binding of adenine with thymine and the binding of cytosine with guanine.
Human DNA consists of three billion bases and more than 99% of them are the same in all humans.
The order of bases determines what information is available to maintain an organism (similar to how the letters of the alphabet form sentences).
DNA bases pair up with each other and also attach to a sugar molecule and a phosphate molecule, combining to form a nucleotide.
These nucleotides are arranged in two long strands that form a spiral called a double helix.
The double helix resembles a ladder with the base pairs forming the rungs and the sugar and phosphate molecules forming the vertical side pieces.
A new form of DNA has recently been discovered for the first time inside living human cells.
Named i-motif, the shape resembles a twisted “knot” of DNA rather than the well-known double helix.
It’s unclear what the function of the i-motif is, but experts believe it could be to “read” DNA sequences and convert them into useful substances.
Source: US National Library of Medicine