The Prehistoric Archaeology Blog is concerned with news reports featuring Prehistoric period archaeology. If you wish to see news reports for general European archaeology, please go to The Archaeology of Europe Weblog.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Natural Selection Led To Different Features In Europeans As Recent As 5,000 Years Ago, According To Researchers
An increasing volume of archaeological research and effort has come to focus particularly on the genetic evolution and development of human beings since the last Ice Age. While the last glacial period ended about 10,000 years ago, promising, new research suggests that substantial evolution of the human species can now be evidenced even in peoples from as recently as 5,000 years ago — a relative blink of an eye in geological terms — thanks to cutting-edge analyses of skeletons unearthed on the European continent.
The new findings are the result of a team of scientists from around the world from different academic disciplines, forming an interdisciplinary research team that has been able to uncover new insights into some of the most recent evolutionary changes to the human species. Anthropologists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), geneticists at University College London (UCL), and archaeologists from Berlin and Kiev all collaborated in a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealing that ancient DNA from these European skeletons shows the impact of natural selection on the human genome as “recently” as the past 5,000 years, resulting in a rapid, dramatic change of appearance in people on a continent that is now dominated by a heterogenous mixture of different physical traits in an otherwise small geographical area.