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Upper East Asia Genome

12 January 2021

Genetic research is spreading far and wide across the world, so much so it has now reached some very remote places – see https://phys.org/news/2021-01-genome-people-asia-stone-age.html … Actually, there is a reason why remote regions are attractive geneticists and this is that they have experienced less hybridisation with other regions and their peoples. This piece of research is really about northern Siberia as far east as Kamchatka. It is cold and not hospital to humans, situated on the roof of the world, but strangely people have been living here throughout the Holocene and deep into the Ice Age. The research, as you would suspect, concerns a limited amount of skeletal material, the remains of just 40 different people. They date from around 17,000 years ago to the medieval period, around 550 years ago. The latter date occurs around a 100 years after the Black Death plague outbreak, and yes, it is evident in Siberia too. Ther modern inhabitants of Vladivostok do not therefore figure in the research as they are more recent arrivals with an origin in Russia. Esteemed for their long legs or not. Most of the individual remains, not surprisingly, come from the Trans Baikal region – which inlcudes Yakutia, Cis Baikal, Amur Oblast and Krasnoyask Kras etc. The genome allowed scientists to spot a pattern in population movement and fluctuations in numbers. They could even trace some of them back to their point of dispersal. They discovered that one group first lived in Yakutia and they later moved on to the Saqqaq Arctic zone. The oldest remains came from an individual found in a cave dating back to 17,000 years ago, at the end of the Late Glacial Maximum. How the remains got into the cave is not said. They also found two individuals with evidence of plague, at a tpoint with a drop in genetic diversity = a drop in population numbers. They also found that people in the Lake Baikal region interacted with people in Siberia – and outside Siberia. A trade network perhaps, possibly associated with all that ivory in the Arctic Circle. The full study is at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/2/eabc4587/tab-pdf … where we learn that around 8000 years ago, roughly the time of the 6200BC event, there were changes in the genome indicating new arrivals etc. This occurred at 7900 years ago, and again, at 6100 years ago = around 4100BC. This coincides with the arrival of farmers in the UK with an origin on the North European Plain [at 4150BC]. Hence, big changes around Britain, such as the drowning of the southern North Sea basin and the Solent, appaear to go hand in hand with changes in population on the roof of the world. What then was the driving force? Was it a global event?

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