The ‘Kostinski man’
Scientists have sequenced a 37,000-year-old genome. The results show that present-day Scandinavians are the closest living relatives to the first people in Europe.
By mapping the genome of the skeleton of a 37,000-year-old man found in Kostinski in Russia, Danish researchers – in co-operation with an international research team – have found that current Scandinavians are the most closely-related of all Europeans to the first people to live on the continent.
Eske Willerslev, the head of the Center for Geogenetics at the University of Copenhagen and co-author of the research, contends that the genome-mapping sheds new light on European ancestry.
”Genetically, he is European and is more closely related to current Europeans than any other people in the world. And that means that some of the earliest people in Europe were actually our forefathers,” Willerslev told the science website Videskab.dk.
”He is actually more closely related to Danes, Swedes, Finns and Russians than he is to the French, Spanish and Germans, so one could argue we are more originally European.”
The new research also shows the European man is the oldest person found that is genetically separate from the forefathers of current Asians, and that is an essential element when it comes to dating one of history’s more important occurrences: dating the genetic split between Asians and Europeans.
The Kostenki-man genome shows that the two genetic paths split at least 37,000 years ago, and incredibly, just two weeks ago, another 45,000 year-old genome from Ust’ Ishim in Siberia showed they hadn’t split at that point. That means that there is a window of just 8,000 years during which researchers know the Asian and European lines split.
The Kostenki-man genome also revealed that all of the European genetic components, including those stemming from the Middle East, were already present in the first Europeans, so the Danes are not a genetically delimited people as once believed.