Not really random, but very topical to horsedom. Origin of domestic horses finally establishedQuoteThis strategy paid off: although Eurasia was once populated by genetically distinct horse populations, a dramatic change had occurred between 2000 and 2200 BC. A genetic profile, previously confined to the Pontic steppes (North Caucasus)3, began to spread beyond its native region, replacing all the wild horse populations from the Atlantic to Mongolia within a few centuries.This is quite fascinating because of the time and the place. The Kurgan hypothesis has been victorious the last couple decades, merging a Yamnaya culture (archeological findings), a language group (Indo-European), and genetic mapping into a fairly coherent picture. And domestication of horses (not yet horseriding, but wagons) has been the hypothesized driver that spread these Ukrainians (more or less) over wide parts of Eurasia.And the place fits perfectly, but time not so much. 4200 ya is at least a millennium after the Proto-Indo-European speaking tribes started emigrating from Ukraine (or thereabout).Now, all tame horses today can trace their roots back to these Caucasian horses, but they were not the first domesticated horses. The same team had earlier established that Botai horses, tamed more than 5500 ya, were not the ancestors of today's tame horses. But they were the ancestors of Przewalski's horses, previously assumed to be original wild horses, but that would be feral horses instead.The research is EU funded by the slightly confusingly named Pegasus project (because of another Pegasus project)
This strategy paid off: although Eurasia was once populated by genetically distinct horse populations, a dramatic change had occurred between 2000 and 2200 BC. A genetic profile, previously confined to the Pontic steppes (North Caucasus)3, began to spread beyond its native region, replacing all the wild horse populations from the Atlantic to Mongolia within a few centuries.
Everything is in eDNA, but a particular type of eDNA is called sedaDNA specifically from sediments, i.e dirt. Of course we know that it's not just bacteria and fungus and things like that that are roaming around on the landscape, there's animals and there's people. If you want to first detect when a human group came into an area and you're relying entirely on finding their skeletons or even their artifacts that can create a lot of ambiguity. But what's now possible because of the breakthroughs that have happened this year is to actually get nuclear DNA from sediments of high enough quality that you can start asking questions about the actual evolutionary relationships of different populations of people. Or in the case of this paper by Benjamin Vernon the neanderthals that were in the study. I remember feeling extremely excited about it, because i got a little sneak preview before the paper came out, and i kind of just sat in my chair for a second i just had a million things going through my head about what this could mean, because literally anywhere where you might be able to recover this you could ask the question of Who was here? and How long were they here? and Who were they interacting with? without ever having to destroy a single skeletal sample. As an archaeologist I'm also a little bit conflicted because we get rid of dirt, that's kind of what we do, we set through it, we wash artifacts to get the dirt off of them so that we can see them and analyze them, study them. Must have been 2003, I was having a conversation with some other graduate students who were sitting at a site excavating and removing all this dirt and taking it down to wash. The standard way to do it and we were saying, "You know what if in the future we all look back on the excavation methods we're doing now, and we think we're being so careful. We're sitting here with chopsticks, you know, we're carefully peeling back the layers, but we're still getting rid of all this dirt. What if that's the important part and and the objects are that we think are important are actually not that important after all?" We had this kind of philosophical conversation about it, and I don't think that that's actually happened, I'm sure the objects are still very important, but we have to be a lot more careful when we think about sampling everything we excavate out. So do you anticipate this will change your practices in the field, like are you gonna start saving dirt? Possibly. I mean I already do, and I know a lot of people do, but it isn't a standard necessarily to do that. So this is a huge deal and now whole new worlds have opened up. There were three big studies on this in 2021,
Humans in Bacho Kiro, Bulgaria 38-45 kya, ancestors to East Asians and Native Americans (14:00)
While their age suggests these individuals were among the earliest modern humans to live in Europe, their DNA reveals that they have little relation to humans now known as European."Interestingly, these earliest Europeans that we find in the Bacho Kiro Cave did not contribute substantially to later West Eurasians," says Mateja Hajdinjak, of the Francis Crick Institute (London), co-author of the study published this week in Nature. "These groups got largely replaced in Western Eurasia by subsequent migrations of people. But they are closely related to the human groups that gave rise to later East Eurasians and Americans--including present-day populations.""It's just really cool that fossils of three individuals in Bulgaria left behind DNA, and can trace their descendants to different parts of the world than we'd expect, in ancient and living East Asians and Native peoples of the Americas," adds Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian's Human Origins Program, who wasn't involved in the genetic research.
In 2003, another research group found the remains of Tianyuan man, and to this day the individual's DNA is the earliest known ancient human genome from East Asia. Thanks to Tianyuan man and other archaeological findings, researchers know that modern humans lived in northern East Asia as early as 40,000 years ago. This region includes the Mongolian Plateau, northern China, Japan, the Korean Peninsula and the mountainous regions of the Russian Far East. Recent studies have shed light on the population dynamics of East Asia from about 9,000 years ago to recent historical times, but less is known about what happened from 40,000 to 9,000 years ago, Fu said.To investigate, Fu and her colleagues compared the DNA of Tianyuan man with the ancient remains of people living in the Amur region, which includes Songnen Plain in northeastern China, between 33,000 and 3,400 years ago.
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