Science News
from research organizations

Migration back to Africa took place during the Palaeolithic

International research has retrieved mitogenome of a fossil belonging to the first Homo sapiens population in Europe

Date:
May 26, 2016
Source:
University of the Basque Country
Summary:
A research group has managed to retrieve the mitochondrial genome of a fossil 35,000 years old found in the Pestera Muierii cave in Romania. That woman was part of the first population of our species that inhabited Europe following the Eurasian expansion of Homo sapiens from Africa, and the lineage she belongs to reinforces the hypothesis of a back-migration to Africa during the Upper Palaeolithic, say investigators.
Share:
FULL STORY

The complete mitogenome of Pestera Muierii woman has been retrieved.
Credit: E. Trinkaus and A. Soficaru

A research group has managed to retrieve the mitochondrial genome of a fossil 35,000 years old found in the Pestera Muierii cave in Romania. That woman was part of the first population of our species that inhabited Europe following the Eurasian expansion of Homo sapiens from Africa, and the lineage she belongs to reinforces the hypothesis of a back-migration to Africa during the Upper Palaeolithic, say investigators.

The Palaeogenomics study conducted by the Human Evolutionary Biology group of the Faculty of Science and Technology, led by Concepción de la Rua, in collaboration with researchers in Sweden, the Netherlands and Romania, has made it possible to retrieve the complete sequence of the mitogenome of the Pestera Muierii woman (PM1) using two teeth. This mitochondrial genome corresponds to the now disappeared U6 basal lineage, and it is from this lineage that the U6 lineages, now existing mainly in the populations of the north of Africa, descend from.

So the study has not only made it possible to confirm the Eurasian origin of the U6 lineage but also to support the hypothesis that some populations embarked on a back-migration to Africa from Eurasia at the start of the Upper Palaeolithic, about 40-45,000 years ago. The Pestera Muierii individual represents one branch of this return journey to Africa of which there is no direct evidence owing to the lack of Palaeolithic fossil remains in the north of Africa.

"Right now, the research group is analyzing the nuclear genome the results of which could provide us with information about its relationship with the Neanderthals and about the existence of genomic variations associated with the immune system that accounts for the evolutionary success of Homo sapiens over other human species with whom it co-existed. What is more, we will be able to see what the phenotypic features of early Homo sapiens were like, and also see how population movements in the past influence the understanding of our evolutionary history," explained Prof Concepción de la Rúa.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of the Basque Country. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Hervella, E. M. Svensson, A. Alberdi, T. Günther, N. Izagirre, A. R. Munters, S. Alonso, M. Ioana, F. Ridiche, A. Soficaru, M. Jakobsson, M. G. Netea, C. de-la-Rua. The mitogenome of a 35,000-year-old Homo sapiens from Europe supports a Palaeolithic back-migration to Africa. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 25501 DOI: 10.1038/srep25501

Cite This Page:

University of the Basque Country. "Migration back to Africa took place during the Palaeolithic: International research has retrieved mitogenome of a fossil belonging to the first Homo sapiens population in Europe." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 May 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160526105349.htm>.
University of the Basque Country. (2016, May 26). Migration back to Africa took place during the Palaeolithic: International research has retrieved mitogenome of a fossil belonging to the first Homo sapiens population in Europe. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 29, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160526105349.htm
University of the Basque Country. "Migration back to Africa took place during the Palaeolithic: International research has retrieved mitogenome of a fossil belonging to the first Homo sapiens population in Europe." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160526105349.htm (accessed May 29, 2017).

RELATED STORIES