Prehistoric Eurasians streamed into Africa, genome shows

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Science  09 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6257, pp. 149
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6257.149

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Geneticists have sequenced the first prehistoric genome from Africa: that of Mota, a hunter-gatherer man who lived 4500 years ago in the highlands of Ethiopia. Named for the cave that held the remains, the Mota genome gives scientists their first glimpse into what an African genome looked like prior to many recent migrations in Africa. This ancient Ethiopian highlander is most closely related to the Ari, an ethnic group that speaks Omotic languages in the Ethiopian highlands today. And when researchers compared Mota's genome to that of other Africans, Europeans, and Asians, they got a surprise: Africa is usually seen as a source of outward migrations, but the genomes suggest a major migration into Africa by farmers from the Middle East, possibly about 3500 years ago. These farmers' DNA reached deep into the continent, spreading even to groups considered isolated such as the Khoisan of South Africa and the pygmies of the Congo.