American Indians, Asians related to ancestors in China

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 10:20 hrs

Berlin, Jan 23 (IANS) Ancient DNA reveals that people in an area near Beijing some 40,000 years ago were possibly related to many present-day Native Americans and Asians.

Svante Paabo and Qiaomei Fu of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, sequenced nuclear and mitochondrial DNA that had been extracted from the leg of an early modern human from Tianyuan Cave near Beijing, China.

Analyses of this individual's DNA showed that the Tianyuan human shared a common origin with the ancestors of many present-day Native Americans and Asians, according to a Max Planck statement.

The researchers also found that the proportion of Neanderthal and Denisovan-DNA in this early modern human is not higher than in people living in this region nowadays.

Qiaomei Fu, Matthias Meyer and colleagues of the Max Planck Institute extracted nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from a 40,000 year old leg bone found in 2003 at the Tianyuan Cave outside Beijing.

For their study, the researchers were using new techniques that can identify ancient genetic material from an archaeological find even when large quantities of DNA from soil bacteria are present.

The Tianyuan individual did not carry a larger proportion of Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA than present-day people in the region.

"More analyses of additional early modern humans across Eurasia will further refine our understanding of when and how modern humans spread across Europe and Asia," says Paabo.

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