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8 November 2014

At http://phys.org/print334503335.html … we have a DNA study that seems to overturn another one a few months ago, or rather, it introduces some factors which seem to show that mapping migrations in the past is not as simple as geneticists have assumed. One study contradicts an earlier study and finding – and no doubt this one will meet the same fate. What is clear is that there is a distinct DNA link between Palaeolithic and Mesolithic populations of Europe – and people moved into frozen areas after the ice melted. Kostenki Man is dated 36,000 years ago and he was living in what is now western Russia. What is not addressed is why humans were living in an area so close to the ice sheet that covered most of Euroasia – especially during its coldest era, the Late Glacial Maximum. Now, if the LGM reflected a Pole shift we could visualise western Russia as on the edge of what was then the Arctic Circle with a liveable climate and habitat. Anyway, that is speculation. Kostenki Man died on the Middle Don River at Kostenki and he possessed Neanderthal genes and already contained three pieces of DNA he shares with people from the Middle East, Mesolithic hunter gatherers in post Ice Age Europe, and a Euroasian genetic heritage common with Native Americans and modern Siberian groups. The Middle East genes belong to the same group that developed into farmers and are thought to have later migrated into Europe (8000 years ago). So, the DNA presents a problem, as suggested in earlier In the News features. How much of the genetic material is from farmers migrating out of northern Mesopotamia and Anatolia and how much from DNA already present in Europeans in the Palaeolithic era. Obviously, the more recent an injection of genetic material the more marked it would be in the DNA. The Neanderthal genetic material is slight – but it is there, and it is old, and it demands a Neanderthal component in modern European populations. Do we really know that Neanderthals died out completely? The fact that these early humans lived in both Europe and western Asia (including the Fertile Crescent) must of itself be interesting as this was the primary area of Neanderthal geography. Catastrophism throws up the possibility that ancient humans were forced to migrate long distances as a result of changing circumstances in their environments – and this probably happened on countless occasions. Trying to plot out a simplified DNA map is proving to be difficult – but no doubt they will get there in the end.See also http://anthropology.net/2014/11/07/kostenki-14-a-36000-year-old-european/

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