Sunday, June 7, 2015

Genomes from Portalón of the Cueva Mayor of Atapuerca

Eurogenes posted a few abstracts on ancient genomes that should be published in the next few days, including 8 individuals from the Portalon Cave from Sierra de Atapuerca.

Sierra de Atapuera (photo Mario Modesto)
I don't think that there is anything really surprising here in the Gunter et al paper; Neolithic Portalon individuals are initially Near Eastern Farmers (as expected) and progressively become more 'Western-like' going into the third millennium. This same resurgence occurs over much of Europe.

The common explanation for the uptick in Hunter-Gather related ancestry is that a gradual miscegenation occurred between the Farmers and local Hunter-Gatherers over many hundreds of years.  This implies that the local Hunter-Gatherer populations were large enough to impact the farmer populations through whatever mechanism and that they were in a position to do so, (ie. not being dead)

I have my doubts about the locality of this Western ancestry.  After all, you might see a resurgence of Amerindian-like ancestry in North America at the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  But this modern resurgence is from North/Central and South America.  The real Native North Americans (Pamunky, Caddo, Seminole, etc) were pretty much obliterated, at least their genomic relevance anyway.  While still possible, I think there may be other reasons for the WHG ascendancy in the 4th millenium. [link]

The Chalcoltihic individuals are apparently close to Basques, not surprising since it's near Burgos, Spain.  Hopefully the paper will include archaeological information on each of the eight individuals when it is released.

Günther T1,Valdiosera C1,2,3,Malmström H1,Ureña I3,Rodriguez-Varela R3,Sverrisdóttir Ó1,Daskalaki E A1,4,Skoglund P1,4,5,Naidoo T1,Svensson E M1,6,Bermúdez de Castro J7,Carbonell E8,Storå J4,Iriarte E9,Arsuaga J3,Carretero J3,9,Götherström A4,Jakobsson M1

The consequences of the Neolithic transition in Europe – one of the most important cultural changes in human prehistory – is a subject of intense study. However, the consequence of this transition on prehistoric and modern-day people in Iberia, the westernmost frontier of the European continent, remains unresolved. Here we present the first genome-wide sequence data from eight human remains, dated to between 5,500 and 3,500 years before present (Chalcolithic and Bronze Age), excavated in the El Portalón cave at the Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain. We show that these individuals emerged from the same ancestral gene pool as early farmers from other parts of Europe suggesting that migration was the dominant transfer-mode of farming practices throughout western Eurasia. Early farmers, including the El Portalón individuals, were found to have mixed with different local hunter-gatherers as they migrated to different parts of Europe and that the proportion of hunter-gatherer related admixture into farmers increased over the course of two millennia. Among all early farmers, the Chalcolithic El Portalón individuals show the greatest genetic affinity to Basques. These El Portalón genomes reveal important pieces of the demographic history of Iberia and Europe and advance our understanding of the relationship between hunter-gatherers and farmers, and how they relate to modern-day groups.

Atapuerca UNESCO

Also, El Portalon (the larger cave):

Ana Ortega Martinez [Link]

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