One of the more complex questions surrounding the human existence, particularly the genetic origins of modern Europeans – may have finally been solved.
The answer doesn’t necessarily mean though that the answer is any less complex than one would’ve imagined.
In fact, ancient populations who were related to the first humans to enter the Americas during the Ice Age definitely left their genetic mark on modern day European DNA. Originally, it was thought that modern European genes came from two groups of people.
First, a hunter-gatherer group that lived on that continent since it was first colonized by humans some 40,000 years ago, and then farmers that migrated to the continent roughly 7,000 years ago that came from the Middle East.
Specifically, the second group of people were believed to have come from parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq.
This new study though, released today, revealed that hunter-gatherer’s from Siberia – also had an impact todays modern European gene pool. This group from Siberia – or more notably known as northern Eurasia had an influence on European genes, as well as American genes.
However, this really only further confuses an already very confusing matter to many people. Many questions around how this northern group could impact both American genes, as well as European genes, can be explained easily.
Previous studies have shown that these northern hunter-gatherer’s actually crossed into modern-day Alaska – via an ice bridge that connected islands in the Bering Strait at the time.
Obviously, with many factors at play – like continental drift, the landscape throughout the globe clearly changed. However, where the genes originally came from oftentimes are a source of harsh debate given the mass amount of data that is required to even establish such studies.
David Reich of the Harvard Medical School, who led the study alongside Johannes Krause at Germany’s University of Tubingen said that “What we find is unambiguous evidence that people in Europe have all three of these ancestries. There was a sharp genetic transition between the hunter-gatherers and the farmers, reflecting a major movement of new people into Europe from the Near East.”
The study did also find that the Northern Eurasian component of the gene structure was the smallest of any of the three found in modern-day Europeans.