Unique analysis of 4,500-year-old DNA reveals ancient migration patterns on the African continent and sheds new light on the Eurasian backflow in Africa.
The 4500-year-old DNA was collected from a male skeleton found in the colder cave of Mota, Ethiopia in 2011. More precisely, the research team was able to extract the DNA from the fossils’s skull, where the inner ear was once located. Over time, this spot has become a go-to resource as it is consistently providing the scientific community with viable genetic material.
Previous to this unique analysis, scientists believed that recovering human DNA from fossils in these warmer regions is almost impossible. Now, the successful retrieval of DNA material from the 4,500-year-old southern Ethiopia skeleton lay the foundation for a new evolutionary finding.
What could be retrieved from the male’s inner ear had indeed suffered some decay in time.However, the scientists could reconstruct the genome of the male despite bacterial decay or the humidity and heat it had been stored in for millennia.
This unique analysis of 4,500-year-old DNA reveals ancient migration patterns and links between continents that are only beginning to be charted. What the genome analysis brought to light is that this male shared genetic traits with Eurasian populations of the time. When compared to genome sequencing on modern-day populations on the African continent, the results indicate that the same traits are still noticeable today.
Social migration in Africa is thus understood from a different perspective. Despite the fact that the 4,500-year-old DNA is only one revealing piece of the puzzle, the scientists are confident in affirming that the invisible history underlined by their analysis includes the clues to the size of the Eurasian backflow in Africa and its impact on the populations present here.
The Eurasian backflow is a migratory phenomenon that was believed to have begun approximately 3,000 years ago. In fact, it seems that populations from Western Eurasia migrated back into Africa earlier. This migration pattern afflicted the genetic formation of African populations at the time. The role that the Eurasian backflow played in the genetic make-up of African populations is now known to be more significant that it was previously thought.
The analysis of the 4,500-year-old DNA reveals that the Western Eurasian populations migrating back to the Horn of Africa were related to the early Neolithic farmers. The millennia-spanning genome analysis indicates that modern African populations in the East of the continent have nearly 25 percent Eurasian ancestry. In other corners of the African continent, modern-day populations harbor minimum 5 percent of the Eurasian genome as well.
The findings stemming from this unique analysis and research feature in the Science journal.