“Genetic Fossil”: the discovery of the intact DNA of a woman who lived 7,200 years ago in Indonesia | archeology

Archaeologists have discovered ancient DNA in the remains of a woman who died 7,200 years ago Indonesia, a discovery that challenges what was previously known about the migration of early humans.

The remains, belonging to a teenager named Bessi, were discovered in Leang Panninge Cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Initial excavations were carried out in 2015.

The discovery published in the journal temper natureIt is believed to be the first time that ancient human DNA has been discovered in asia, the vast chain of islands and atolls in the ocean between mainland Asia and Australia.

DNA was extracted from the petrous portion of Pace’s temporal bone, which houses the inner ear.

Griffith University professor Adam Broome, who co-led the research, said intact DNA was a rare find.

“The humid tropics are absolutely unforgiving of preserving DNA in ancient human bones and teeth,” Broome said.

“There are only one or two pre-Neolithic skeletons that yielded ancient DNA in all of mainland Southeast Asia.

Elsewhere in the world – in the northern latitudes of Europe, in America – Ancient DNA analysis It completely revolutionizes our understanding of the early human story: the genetic diversity of ancient humans, population movements, and demographic history. “

Leang Panninge Cave on the island of Sulawesi
Initial excavations began in 2015 in Leang Panninge Cave on the island of Sulawesi. Photography: Hassan El Din University

Researchers describe Bisset as a “genetic fossil.” Broome said genetic sequencing showed she had a unique ancestral history shared by no one living today, nor any known human from the ancient past.

About half of the genetic makeup of the Bessé is similar to the current Australian Aboriginal people and people from New Guinea and the western Pacific islands.

“Its ancestors were part of the initial wave of movement of early humans from mainland Asia through these Wallacean islands toward what we today call the Sahul, which was the combined land mass of Ice Age Australia and New Guinea,” Broome said.

Toalean stone arrowheads
Toalean stone arrowheads. Bessette’s remains have been found along with prehistoric tools and red ocher. Photography: Shahna Britton and Andrew Thompson

Surprisingly, Bessie’s DNA also showed an ancient connection to East Asia, challenging what was previously known about the migration timeline to Wallacea.

“It is believed that the first time people of predominantly Asian ancestry entered the Wallacene region was about three or four thousand years ago, when the first prehistoric Neolithic farmers entered the region from Taiwan,” Broome said.

“If we find this Asian origin in a hunter-gatherer person who lived thousands of years before the arrival of these Neolithic people from Taiwan, we suggest … an early transmission of some populations from Asia to this region.”

Bessé is also the first known skeleton belonging to the Toalean culture, a group of hunters and gatherers who lived in South Sulawesi between 1,500 and 8,000 years ago.

She was 17 to 18 years old at the time of her burial. Prehistoric stone tools and red ocher were found next to their remains. Her tomb also contained the bones of hunted wild animals.

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