Scientists have sequenced a 37,000-year-old genome. The results show that present-day Scandinavians are the closest living relatives to the first people in Europe.
The study, which was recently published in Science, sheds entirely new light on who we are as Europeans.
“From a genetic point of view he’s an European,” says Professor Eske Willerslev, Director of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, who was involved in the new study, and adds:
“Actually, he is closer to Danes, Swedes, Finns and Russians than to Frenchmen, Spaniards and Germans”.
Split happened within a 8.000 year gap
The new results reveal that the man is the oldest that we know of so far to genetically represent a separate line from the forebears of present-day Asians. This is decisive when it comes to dating one of the most important events in history.
“We can now date the separation time between Asians and Europeans,” says Professor Rasmus Nielsen from the University of Copenhagen and the University of California, Berkeley, who was also involved in the study.
He points out that the Kostenki genome sets a line 37,000 years ago. Here the lines must have split, while the 45,000-year-old genome from the recently discovered Ust’ Ishim in Siberia sets the limit in the other direction.
This gives the answer to one of the biggest questions in the history of mankind; scientists now know that it is within the 8000 year gap that Europeans and Asians went their separate ways.link