Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Molecular Middle Ages Of The Russian North

17.05.2004


Current achievements in molecular genetics allow scientists to look not only in the depths of genomes but also back to ancient times. By analysing fossil DNA, Russian biologists have reconstructed the picture of colonisation of the Russian Northern lands. The research was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and the RF Ministry of Industry and Sciences.



Today’s molecular biology is capable of analysing DNAs extracted from an ancient material up to 100,000 years old. Even Neanderthal men’s DNAs can be examined. However, Russian scientists working at the V.A. Engelgardt Institute of Molecular Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, and Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences, make no moves to look to such ancient history. Analysing an ancient DNA, they reconstruct the picture of Slavic colonisation of the areas to the North of the Volga and the Sukhona watershed, lying between Lake Onega and the Pechora river. The development of the area called "the Russian North" began no later than in the 11th century, and was completed in the 16th century. According to archaeologists and anthropologists, first Slavic colonists were coming to the North in small family groups, and were settling down in a detached manner. Now, genetics could also contribute to the overall picture.

The scientists examined 47 samples of mitochondrial (mt) DNA extracted from the bones found in the burial grounds of the settlements Nefedyevo, Minino, and Shuygino located in the Vologda Region, around Lake Beloye. The burial places date back to the 11th -13th centuries. DNAs were extracted from various skeleton parts but mostly from teeth. According to the researches, ancient DNAs are best preserved in teeth. All DNA isolation and research activities were performed with extreme precautions in order not to contaminate the ancient probes with modern nucleic acid. This resulted in 47 compounds of paleo-DNA; the scientists determined their structure and isolated three kinds of mt DNA typical of the people buried in the burial places. The overwhelming majority of the examined ancient persons (43) had the so-called “Cambridge” DNA type which is typical of contemporary European inhabitants. The rest four persons had other, more rarely found types, which are, however, also typical of all populations in Eastern Europe. Therefore, the examined group can positively be said to have the European background. Those having more rare types of mt DNA were buried approximately 200 years later than the others. All of them are male. In the scientists’ opinion, they could be born from the couples consisting of local women belonging to the Finno-Ugric group, and the settlement founders’ offsprings. Thus, the assimilation did not begin immediately but started during medium colonisation stages.


Molecular geneticists note a surprising level of local inhabitants’ genetic homogeneity. It can be explained by a “founder effect” when each settlement was found by a small kindred group of 8 to 14 persons. This data is confirmed by demographers, anthropologists and archaeologists. Garments details, funeral ceremony peculiarities, and some anthropological markers related to heritable diseases speak for familiar relations within the group. Thus, eight persons out of 65 buried in Nefedyevo, had typical finger-shaped pressed-in areas on frontal and parietal bones of the inner side of the scull, which indicate predisposition to high intracranial pressure. This feature is rather rare; most of its carriers lived in the 11th century. Apparently, people who built this burial place presented a solid community with their own cultural norms. They had been living there for ages avoiding virtually any assimilation with local inhabitants, and preserved their originality. Because of complex migration processes, such genetic uniformity was not typical of most European populations. The uniformity of the kind is characteristic only for American aboriginal population: for example, ancient inhabitants of Kopana, a Maya town, and the mikstek people, the Maya descendants, bear such features.

Sergey Komarov | Informnauka
Further information:
http://www.informnauka.ru/eng/2004/2004-05-07-041_22_e.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Mass spectrometry sheds new light on thallium poisoning cold case
14.12.2018 | University of Maryland

nachricht Protein involved in nematode stress response identified
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>