NOV 12, 2022 6:00 AM PST

45,000-Year-Old Human DNA Divulges Human Evolution Secrets

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In a recent study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, an international team of researchers led by the University of Adelaide in Australia have revealed new details on human evolution by studying 45,000-year-old human DNA. This study holds the potential to help us better understand human evolution and genetics over time.

"It was widely believed the genetics of our human ancestors didn't change due to environmental pressures as much as other animals, due to our enhanced communication skills and ability to make and use tools," said Dr Yassine Souilmi, who is a postdoctoral researcher at Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), and lead author on the study. "However, by comparing modern genomes with ancient DNA, we discovered more than 50 cases of an initially rare beneficial genetic variant becoming prevalent across all members of ancient human groups. In contrast to many other species, evidence for this type of adaptive genetic change has been inconsistent in humans. This discovery consequently challenges the prevailing view of human adaptation and gives us a new and exciting insight into how humans have adapted to the novel environmental pressures they encountered as we spread across the planet."

Dr. Ray Tobler, who is an Adjunct Fellow at the University of Adelaide, said studying ancient DNA has been crucial in disclosing human evolutionary secrets.

"We believed historical mixing events between human groups might have hidden signs of genetic changes in modern human genomes," said Dr. Tobler. "We examined DNA from more than 1,000 ancient genomes, the oldest which was around 45,000 years old, to see if certain types of genetic adaptation had been more common in our history than studies of modern genomes had suggested."

ACAD was established in 2005 and is a “world leader in the research and development of advanced ancient DNA approaches for evolutionary, environmental and conservation applications.”

Sources: Nature Ecology & Evolution

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of “Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey”.
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