Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Central Europe was repopulated 7,500 years ago - Ice Age hunter-gatherers are not the ancestors of the first sedentary tillers

Europe's first farmers were immigrants - International team headed by Mainz University analyzes the DNA of the last hunter-gatherers

Europe's first farmers replaced their Stone-Age hunter-gatherer forerunners: Analysis of ancient DNA from skeletons suggests that Europe's first farmers were not the descendants of the people who settled the area after the retreat of the ice sheets.

Instead, the early farmers probably migrated into major areas of central and eastern Europe about 7,500 years ago, bringing domesticated plants and animals with them, says Barbara Bramanti from Mainz University in Germany and colleagues.

The researchers analyzed DNA from hunter-gatherer and early farmer burials, and compared those to each other and to the DNA of modern Europeans. They conclude that there is little evidence of a direct genetic link between the hunter-gatherers and the early farmers, and 82 percent of the types of mtDNA found in the hunter-gatherers are relatively rare in central Europeans today.

For more than a century archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, and more recently, geneticists have argued about who were the ancestors of Europeans living today. We know that people lived in Europe before and after the last big ice age and managed to survive by hunting and gathering. We also know that farming spread into Europe from the Near East over the last 9,000 years, thereby increasing the amount of food that can be produced by as much as 100-fold. But the extent to which modern Europeans are descended from either of those two groups has eluded scientists despite many attempts to answer this question.

Now, a team from Mainz University in Germany together with researchers from University College London and Cambridge have found that the first farmers in central and northern Europe could not have been the descendents of the hunter-gatherers that came before them. But what is even more surprising, they also found that modern Europeans could not be solely the descendants of the hunter-gatherers or the first farmers, and are unlikely to be a mixture of just those two groups. "This is really odd," said Professor Mark Thomas, population geneticist at University College London and co-author on the study. "For more than a century the debate has centered around how much hunter-gatherer, how much early farmer? But now that: For the first time, we are able to look directly at the genes of these Stone-Age Europeans. And what we find is that some DNA types just aren't there, despite being common in Europeans today."

Humans arrived in Europe 45,000 years ago and replaced the Neandertals. From that period on, European hunter-gatherers experienced lots of climatic changes including the last Ice Age. After the end of the Ice Age some 11,000 years ago, the hunter-gatherer life style survived for a couple of thousand years but then was gradually replaced by agriculture. The question is whether this change in life style from hunter-gatherer to farmer was brought to Europe by new people or whether only the idea of farming did spread.

The new results from the Mainz team seem to solve much of this long-standing debate. "Our analysis shows that there is no direct continuity between hunter-gatherers and farmers in Central Europe," says Professor Joachim Burger. "As the hunter-gatherers were there first, the farmers must have immigrated into the area." The study identifies the Carpathian Basin as the origin for early Central European farmers. "It seems that farmers of the Linearbandkeramik culture immigrated from there 7,500 years ago into Central Europe, initially without mixing with local hunter gatherers." Barbara Bramanti, first author of the study adds: "This is surprising, because there were cultural contacts between the locals and the immigrants, but, it appears, no genetic exchange of women."

The new study confirms what Joachim Burger's team showed in 2005, i.e., that the first farmers were not the direct ancestors of the modern European. Burger says: "We are still searching for those remaining components of modern European ancestry. Hunter-gatherers and early farmers alone are not enough. But new ancient DNA data from later periods in European prehistory may shed light on this in the future."

Petra Giegerich | idw
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
26.10.2016 | University of California - Irvine

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>