DNA Research Suggests a Mystery Population Invented Agriculture

Researchers from Cambridge University have announced the recovery of ancient DNA from a 36,000-year-old skeleton, the second oldest skeleton from which genetic material has been extracted successfully.  The DNA shows three things:

  • Our earliest European genomes weathered the Ice Age
  • The date when our ancestors interbred with Neandertals
  • That a mystery population that disappeared for around 30,000 years gave us agriculture about 8,000 years ago.

Homo Sapiens originated hundreds of thousands of years ago in Africa before expanding and moving north toward the Middle East where so many remains of our earliest ancestors are found, along with the remains of our earliest culture before we expanded world-wide starting around 30,000 years ago at the onset of the last Ice Age.

“That there is continuity from the earliest Upper Palaeolithic (Late Stone Age) to the Mesolithic,  (a cultural period between the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic or New Stone Age), across a major glaciation, is a great insight into the evolutionary processes underlying human success.” (Dr Marta Mirazón Lahr, Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies. and co-author of the study)

Work by other geneticists, archeologists and anthropologists focus on the Nile Delta to the Fertile Crescent.  Geneticists have even identified a genetic Adam, based on analysis of our common Y chromosome, and a genetic Eve, based on our mitochondrial DNA.

We believe that 36,000 years ago we were still hunters and gatherers of the Stone Age, all with black skin but some of us having blue eyes, taking our food and creating tools as we could find them before we figured out that we could cultivate plants and domesticate animals. That innovation appears to have happened about 8,000 years ago.  Agriculture created surplus, which permitted a stable, settled life that promoted the development of modern civilization, for better or worse, with government, architecture, the arts and eventually writing, which further changed humanity, probably forever. Learn more about these findings at THIS LINK.

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