Researchers uncover peculiar diversity in Tianyuan caveman
Genome data from a 40,000-year-old man unearthed in Beijing shows a surprising diversity of the people living in the region and their complex genetic connections to other continents, according to a report published in an international journal on Friday.
Even though “Tianyuan man” was an ancient East Asian, he is not the direct ancestor of people in the region, which shows the multiplicity of Asian groups 40,000 years ago, the Beijing-based researchers found.
Using advanced sequencing techniques, a team led by Professor Fu Qiaomei of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences retrieved DNA from the bones of a man who died in Tianyuan Cave in Fangshan district 40,000 years ago, according to a report on the institution’s official website.
The find was introduced in “40,000-Year-Old Individual from Asia Provides Insight into Early Population Structure in Eurasia” published in Current Biology on Friday.
However, the current genome is not complete and lacks gene fragments, Fu was quoted as saying by Shanghai-based news website thepaper.cn on Thursday.
The study suggests that the Fangshan caveman is genetically connected to an ancient European from Belgium of 35,000 years ago, a connection not found in other ancient Europeans’ samples.
Therefore, it is “very possible” Tianyuan man had gene communication with an unknown group related to the ancient man of Belgium, showing the complex genetic history of Asians and Europeans, the institute reported.
Tianyuan man also possesses genetic similarities to South Americans in line with other international findings, the study found.
The Tianyuan man marks the earliest ancient DNA from East Asia and the first ancient genome-wide data from China, according to the institution website report.
Ancient humans have been sequenced in Europe and Siberia, but few have been sequenced from East Asia, particularly China, where the archeological record shows a rich history for early modern humans.