Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Despite Their Diversity, Pygmies Of Western Central Africa Share Recent Common Ancestors

Date:
February 6, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Despite the great cultural, physical, and genetic diversity found amongst the numerous West Central African human populations that are collectively designated as "Pygmies," a new report finds that they diverged from a single ancestral population just about 2,800 years ago.

Despite the great cultural, physical, and genetic diversity found amongst the numerous West Central African human populations that are collectively designated as "Pygmies," a report published online on February 5th in Current Biology finds that they diverged from a single ancestral population just about 2,800 years ago.

The new study is the first to reconstruct the history of the numerous forest-dwelling pygmy populations, who make their livings as hunter-gatherers, and their immediate sedentary, agriculturalist neighbors, according to the researchers.

"The common origin of all pygmy populations from Western Central Africa is de facto assumed by the use of the generic term 'pygmy'," said Paul Verdu of Musée de l'Homme in Paris. "However, due to the lack of archaeological data, such a common origin had never before been assessed. Now, we have shown using genetic data that—despite the fact that there is no such thing nowadays as a pygmy civilization or identity and despite their great cultural heterogeneity—Western pygmy populations in fact do share a common origin and recently diverged from one another."

Nevertheless, pygmy populations today do not know about one another, and they have no myth or story about their own origin, Verdu emphasized. In fact, pygmies do not call themselves "Pygmies." Rather, they identify themselves as distinct ethnic groups, including Kola, Baka, Efe, or Nsua, to name a few. There is also no pygmy language. All pygmy populations speak the language of their non-pygmy neighbors, representing two different language families in Western Central Africa.

Although archeological remains attest to the presence of people in the Congo Basin since at least 30,000 years ago, the demographic history of those groups had remained widely unknown, Verdu said. Scientists also debate about whether pygmies' characteristically short stature is the result of shared history or convergent adaptation to the forest environments in which they live.

In the new study, an interdisciplinary team of researchers including ethnologists and geneticists explored those questions by conducting genetic analyses on 604 people from 12 non-pygmy and 9 pygmy groups in Western Central Africa. They found that the most likely historical scenario to explain the genetic evidence points toward a unique ancestral pygmy population that diversified about 2,800 years ago, perhaps as a result of social constraints imposed on pygmies as non-pygmy agriculturalist populations expanded.

Their analysis showed a high level of genetic diversity among Western Central African Pygmies and evidence for variable levels of intermarriage between pygmy and non-pygmy groups that are consistent with known sociocultural barriers. In fact, Verdu said that the recent and heterogeneous gene flow from non-pygmies into various pygmy populations may have driven the rapid genetic diversification found amongst today's pygmies.

The researchers include Paul Verdu, CNRS-MNHN-Universite´ Paris, Paris, France; Frederic Austerlitz, CNRS UMR, Orsay, France, Universite´ Paris-Sud, Orsay, France, AgroParisTech, Paris, France; Arnaud Estoup, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, UMR, Montferrier-sur-Lez, France; Renaud Vitalis, CNRS-MNHN-Universite´ Paris, Paris, France; Myriam Georges, CNRS-MNHN-Universite´ Paris, Paris, France; Sylvain Thery, CNRS-MNHN-Universite´ Paris, Paris, France; Alain Froment, CNRS-MNHN-Universite´ Paris, Paris, France; Sylvie Le Bomin, CNRS-MNHN-Universite´ Paris, Paris, France; Antoine Gessain, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France; Jean-Marie Hombert, UMR 5596 Institut des Sciences de l'Homme, Lyon, France; Lolke Van der Veen, UMR 5596 Institut des Sciences de l'Homme, Lyon, France; Lluis Quintana-Murci, Human Evolutionary Genetics Unit, CNRS URA3012, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France; Serge Bahuchet, CNRS-MNHN-Universite´ Paris, Paris, France; and Evelyne Heyer, CNRS-MNHN-Universite´ Paris, Paris, France.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Despite Their Diversity, Pygmies Of Western Central Africa Share Recent Common Ancestors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205133751.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, February 6). Despite Their Diversity, Pygmies Of Western Central Africa Share Recent Common Ancestors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205133751.htm
Cell Press. "Despite Their Diversity, Pygmies Of Western Central Africa Share Recent Common Ancestors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205133751.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Newsy (July 25, 2014) — Unverified footage posted to YouTube purportedly shows ISIS militants destroying a shrine widely believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) — Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins