Researchers reconstructed the prehistory of humans on the continent, and it goes back thousands of years, thanks to an ancient DNA study. They reported this discovery in the journal Cell in September 2017, and they got all this information by sequencing the ancient genomes of 15 individuals from different parts of Africa. Experts now know which human populations lived in eastern and southern Africa thanks to these findings. The researchers say they now know who lived there between 8,000 and 1,000 years ago.
The senior author David Reich of Harvard Medical School said that “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.” Accordingly, ancient DNA research revealed some novelties about human evolution and much more than that.
More information on our ancestors, revealed by an ancient DNA study
The researchers sequenced DNA from the genomes of 15 ancient sub-Saharan Africans to reconstruct the African population structure before the spread of food production. Reich and Pontus Skoglund (@pontus_skoglund), also at Harvard Medical School were part of the team working on this study. 3 individuals from the Western Cape of South Africa (~2,300-1,200 years before present [BP]) were included in their sample along 4 from the coastal region of Kenya and Tanzania (~1,400-400 BP), with 12 others from eastern and south-central Africa, 7 from Malawi (ranging from ~8,100 to 2,500 BP), and 1 from interior Tanzania (~3,100 BP).
That newly generated ancient DNA data has been combined by researchers with previously created genome-wide data from an Ethiopian highland individual (~4,500 BP). About 585 present-day African individuals have also been included in the expert’s analysis, and they were from 59 diverse populations and 300 high-coverage genomes from 142 communities around the world.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca