The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

The genomic footprints of Stone-Age Europeans


Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University

April 14, 2016 1:30, Imperial Ballroom B Add to calendar

Genomic information from ancient human remains is beginning to show its full potential for learning about the human prehistory, including the debated agricultural transition in Europe and the colonization of the continent after the last glacial maximum. We generate and analyze genomic data from several Neolithic farmers and Mesolithic hunter-gatherers from Europe that illuminate the impact of the agricultural revolution on patterns of genomic variation in Europe. For instance, Stone-Age individuals show remarkable population structure corresponding to their material culture association and the farmers are genetically most similar to extant southern Europeans, contrasting sharply to the hunter-gatherers whose genetic signature is unique, but closest to extant northern Europeans. The strongest genomic pattern in present-day Europeans is a south-north gradient that can be understood by Neolithic migrations and extensive, but varying, admixture over several millennia. We also find distinct local admixture between resident hunter-gatherers and incoming farmers in Scandinavia and in Iberia – areas at the fringe of the Neolithic expansion – showing that substantial admixture was ongoing in situ. These findings show that lifestyle was the major determinant of genetic similarity in pre-historic Europe rather than geography as in modern-day Europe.