Genetic Discontinuity Between Local Hunter-Gatherers and Central Europe’s First Farmers

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Science  02 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5949, pp. 137-140
DOI: 10.1126/science.1176869

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Cultivating Farmers

Were the ancestors of modern Europeans the local hunter-gatherers who assimilated farming practices from neighboring cultures, or were they farmers who migrated from the Near East in the early Neolithic? By analyzing ancient hunter-gatherer skeletal DNA from 2300 to 13,400 B.C.E. Bramanti et al. (p. 137, published online 3 September) investigated the genetic relationship of European Ice Age hunter-gatherers, the first farmers of Europe, and modern Europeans. The results reject the hypothesis of direct continuity between hunter-gatherers and early farmers and between hunter-gatherers and modern Europeans. Major parts of central and northern Europe were colonized by incoming farmers 7500 years ago, who were not descended from the resident hunter-gatherers. Thus, migration rather than cultural diffusion was the driver of farming communities in Europe.

  • Present address: Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.

  • Present address: Institute for Zoology, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

  • § Present address: Diamond Light Source, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Chilton, UK.

  • Present address: Faculty of Applied Biological Sciences, Gifu University, Gifu, Japan.

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