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How man took over Africa: Study of DNA from 16 ancient people rewrites the history of the continent Scientists analysed DNA from 16 individuals ranging from 8,100-400 years ago They compared this to 584 present-day African people from 59 populations An analysis of these genomes suggested that populations related to indigenous people of southern Africa had a wider distribution of the past The research also found a Near East spread into East Africa 3,100 years ago But the earliest diversification of humans appeared to have occurred in the west The DNA of 16 humans that lived in Africa up to 8,500 years ago could rewrite the continent’s history and shed new light on our origins. The findings reveal new insights about where human populations lived across the continent between 8,000 and 1,000 years ago. And contrary to popular belief, they suggests that the earliest diversification of modern humans occurred in the west of Africa – although the dates on this remains unclear. Scroll down for video This graphic shows ancient DNA population diversity of Africa based on the genetic data available to the scientists and how they spread. They found a Near East population spread into East Africa at least 3,100 years ago. At the same time, another expansion driven by agriculture was taking place in West Africa KEY FINDINGS – West African diversification It was believed hunter-gatherers in southern Africa descend from the branch believed to be the first to have divided from other Africans. But the new study suggests that there may be even older branches from people in West Africa. – Very little gene exchange between African and non-Africans for tens of thousands of years The 4,500-year-old Ethiopian man discovered in 2015 had DNA linking him to non-Africans. But today, only the Hazda shares the same genetic link. The study suggests that once humans expanded out of Africa, there was little or no flow of genes between Africans and non-Africans for tens of thousands of years. – Near East spread 3,100 years ago 3,100-year-old girl in Tanzania had a third of her ancestry traced to early farmers in the Near East. Near Eastern genes were also found in a skeleton from South Africa about 1,200 years old. – Western expansion driven by agriculture At the same time, another expansion driven by agriculture was taking place in West Africa. A people known as the Bantu spread from the region around Cameroon and Nigeria 2,000 years ago. Researchers from Harvard Medical School sequenced the ancient genomes of 16 individuals from different parts of Africa to piece together the pre-history of humans on this continent. Dr David Reich, a senior author of the study, said: ‘Ancient DNA has been able to provide an extraordinary view into human history, mostly on the Eurasian continent. ‘We are excited to bring ancient DNA to answer questions about African prehistory and were lucky to have colleagues in archaeology who were interested in this as well and had suitable samples.’ To reconstruct the African population structure prior to the spread of food production, the researchers sequenced DNA from ancient sub-Saharan Africans. Dr Reich told MailOnline: ‘Being able to get ancient DNA from the African continent is so hard, we just had to use the limited samples available.’ Their sample included three individuals from the western Cape of South Africa dating to 2,300-1,200 years ago, and 12 others from eastern and south-central Africa. The 12 included four from the coastal region of Kenya and Tanzania that date back to 1,400-400 years ago, one from interior Tanzania that dates to around 3,100 years ago, and seven from Malawi ranging from 8,100 to 2,500 years ago. The researchers combined this DNA data with previously generated data from an Ethiopian highland individual dating to around 4,500 years ago. For comparison, the team also included data from 584 present-day African individuals from 59 diverse populations, and 300 high-coverage genomes from 142 populations around the world. RELATED ARTICLES Previous 1 Next Fancy playing virtual Cupid? Free Hinge Matchmaker app lets… Apple’s iOS 11 is here with more emoji, map updates and… The wireless charging ‘vase’ that can top up your phone from… Amazon’s £150 Fire HD 10 tablet doubles up as an Echo to… SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share 324 shares This maps show DNA sampling locations in Africa used in the study. Present-day individuals are indicated with grey circles. Their sample included three individuals from the western Cape of South Africa dating to 2,300-1,200 years ago, and 12 others from eastern and south-central Africa This is a photograph of Mount Hora, which yielded two of the samples – including the oldest one at about 8,100 years ago Dr Reich told MailOnline: ‘This isn’t the first study of ancient DNA from Africa, but this multiplies by ten fold the number of samples studied on the continent. So I think there’s number of dramatic new findings. ‘ The ancient DNA was largely similar to that of people living in the same places where the bones were found. However, there were some interesting exceptions that sheds light on mixing among various groups. For instance, analysis of these genomes suggested that populations related to indigenous people of southern Africa had a wider distribution of the past. This southern African-type genetic background is found in hunter-gatherers from Malawi and Tanzania in the east of Africa. These hunters lived between 8,100 and 1,400 years ago. To reconstruct the African population structure prior to the spread of food production, the researchers sequenced DNA from 15 ancient sub-Saharan Africans Pictured is the Kasitu Valley – a site that yielded two of the skeletons the researchers sampled in their study They also found that the later spread of farmers from western Africa majorly impacted those early hunter-gatherer populations, with some completely replaced. The movements of herding groups before farmers came along could also be traced. The research also found a 3,100-year-old girl in Tanzania was different from the older East Africans. A third of her ancestry could be traced to early farmers in the Near East. This suggests Near East spread into East Africa at least 3,100 years ago. Near Eastern genes were also found in a skeleton from South Africa about 1,200 years old. While most previous studies suggest that the earliest diversification of modern human lineages occurred in southern Africa between 200,000-100,000 years ago, the researchers suggest that this may not be the case. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/Early-diversification-humans-A…

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