Rethinking Pre-Agricultural Humans

Analysis of a 7,000-year-old human genome suggests that Mesolithic people had relatively dark skin and had begun to evolve pathogen resistance characteristic of modern Europeans. 

By | January 28, 2014

Mesolithic artifactsWIKIMEDIA, VANEILESBy reconstructing what they claim to be “a complete pre-agricultural European human genome,” researchers found evidence to suggest that ancient hunter-gatherers carried several variants associated with pathogen resistance in modern Europeans, and that the light skin of modern Europeans was not yet the norm in Mesolithic times. The findings, based on DNA from a 7,000-year-old human skeleton discovered in León, Spain, were presented in Nature this week (January 26) by investigators at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona and colleagues.

“The authors are drawing attention to the role of pathogens in pre-agricultural lives, and that is interesting,” Cambridge University’s Martin Jones, a professor of archaeological science who was not involved in the work, told The Guardian.

“It appears that the first line of defense against pathogens was already there,” added Wolfgang Haak, an ancient DNA researcher at the University of Adelaide in Australia, in an interview with ScienceNOW.

Also interesting was that the researchers found that the ancient human carried ancestral alleles in several skin pigmentation genes, leading them to conclude that he likely had dark skin and light eyes. "You see a lot of reconstructions of these people hunting and gathering and they look like modern Europeans with light skin,” study coauthor Carles Lalueza-Fox told The Guardian. “You never see a reconstruction of a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer with dark skin and blue eye color.”

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Avatar of: wctopp


Posts: 110

January 28, 2014

Interested to see if the Neanderthal sequences are already in this genome.

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 476

January 28, 2014

See: "Table 1 | Mesolithic genome allelic state at 10 nonsynonymous variants recently selected in Europeans"

Their table lists nutrient-dependent SNPs; amino acid substitutions; and function(s). In my model, these are also epigenetically-effected by the metabolism of nutrients to pheromones that control the physiology of reproduction in species from microbes to man.

"Olfactory-Based Fat Discrimination in Humans" links fat detection and nutrient uptake from the bottom-up via conserved molecular mechanisms.

Our sensitivity to human body odors links them from the top-down to the pheromone-controlled physiology of reproduction via the same signaling pathway found in yeasts (see our 1996 Hormones and Behavior review).

Therefore, this representation of changes in skin pigmentation and changes in eye color appears to exemplify nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ecological adaptations that have been consistently attributed to mutation-initiated natural selection.

If, as suggested, de novo mutations were involved, the biological plausibility and ecological validity of the theory of mutation-driven evolution could be compared to the likelihood that the changes in skin pigmentation and eye color during a relatively short time were due to nutrient-dependent de novo gene creation sans mutations.

Avatar of: O


Posts: 2

January 28, 2014

Interesting, what is the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial haplogroup?

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