Oldest Human Genome Discovered From Southern Spain


Cueva del Malalmuerzo: An international team of researchers has discovered the oldest human genome from southern Spain. This is the genome of a 23,000-year-old individual who lived in what was probably the warmest region of Europe at the peak of the last Ice Age.

The discovery adds an important piece of the puzzle to the genetic history of Europe

The genome was discovered in Cueva del Malalmuerzo in southern Spain, while the researchers were analysing ancient human DNA from several archaeological sites in Andalucía in southern Spain. The researchers also discovered 7,000 to 5,000-year-old genomes of early farmers from other well-known sites of southern Spain, such as Cueva de Ardales.

The study, led by Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, was recently published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

According to the study, the Iberian Peninsula in Europe plays an important role in the reconstruction of human population history because it is a geographic cul-de-sac (has a dead-end) in the southwest of Europe, is considered a refuge during the last Ice Age with its drastic temperature fluctuations, and may have been one of the starting points for the recolonisation of Europe after the glacial maximum. The Last Glacial Maximum is the period when the continental ice sheets reached their maximum total mass during the last Ice Age. This happened around 24,000 to 18,000 years ago.

Researchers reported on the genomic profiles of 13,000 to 8,000-year-old hunter-gatherers from the Iberian Peninsula in previous studies.

The studies provided evidence for the survival and continuation of a much older Palaeolithic lineage. The Palaeolithic Period spanned roughly 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 BC.

The lineage has been replaced in other parts of Europe and is no longer detectable.

The DNA of an organism that has died is only preserved for a certain period of time, and under favourable climatic conditions. Therefore, it is a huge challenge for researchers to extract DNA from ancient remains, especially from hot and dry climates.

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