Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Human Population Expanded During Late Stone Age, Genetic Evidence Shows

Date:
August 4, 2009
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Genetic evidence is revealing that human populations began to expand in size in Africa during the Late Stone Age approximately 40,000 years ago. Scientists have found that sub-Saharan populations increased in size well before the development of agriculture. This research supports the hypothesis that population growth played a significant role in the evolution of human cultures in the Late Pleistocene.

Cave painting reproduction.
Credit: iStockphoto/Jose Ramirez

Genetic evidence is revealing that human populations began to expand in size in Africa during the Late Stone Age approximately 40,000 years ago. A research team led by Michael F. Hammer (Arizona Research Laboratory's Division of Biotechnology at the University of Arizona) found that sub-Saharan populations increased in size well before the development of agriculture. This research supports the hypothesis that population growth played a significant role in the evolution of human cultures in the Late Pleistocene.

Related Articles


The team's findings are published in the online peer reviewed journal PLoS ONE on July 29.

Reconstructions of the timing and magnitude of changes in human population size are important for understanding the evolution of our species. There has been a longstanding disagreement whether humans began to increase in number as a result of innovative technologies and/or behaviors formulated by hunter-gatherer groups in the Late Pleistocene, or with the advent of agriculture in the Neolithic. Hammer's research integrates empirical genetics with discoveries in paleontology and archeology to help provide answers to interdisciplinary questions about which kinds of innovations led to the evolutionary success of humankind.

Hammer's UA team, together with their collaborator from the University of California San Francisco's Institute for Human Genetics and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, surveyed the genetic material of ~184 individuals from seven human populations and used a computational approach to simulate the evolution of genetic lineages over time. The researchers found that both hunter-gathers and food-producing groups best fit models with approximately ten-fold population growth beginning well before the origin of agriculture. For the first time ever, Hammer's team was able to investigate the timing of human population expansion by applying sophisticated inferential statistics to a large multilocus autosomal data set re-sequenced in multiple contemporary sub-Saharan African populations.

The team's finely executed experimental design and use of supercomputing power enabled them to determine that this expansion in population size likely began at the start of the Late Stone Age—a period in prehistory that shows an intensification of archeological sites, an increased abundance of blade-based lithic technologies, and enhanced long-distance exchange. The next step in the project is to gather more data by testing more populations and additional parts of the genome.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cox MP, Morales DA, Woerner AE, Sozanski J, Wall JD, et al. Autosomal Resequence Data Reveal Late Stone Age Signals of Population Expansion in Sub-Saharan African Foraging and Farming Populations. PLoS ONE, 4(7): e6366 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006366

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Human Population Expanded During Late Stone Age, Genetic Evidence Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728223022.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2009, August 4). Human Population Expanded During Late Stone Age, Genetic Evidence Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728223022.htm
Public Library of Science. "Human Population Expanded During Late Stone Age, Genetic Evidence Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728223022.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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