Ethiopia: Study Shows Ancient DNA from Eurasia

The genome of a 4,500 year old Ethiopian man known as 'Mota Man' has been mapped for the first time. (Photo: Google Images)

The genome of a 4,500 year old Ethiopian man known as ‘Mota Man’ has been mapped for the first time.
(Photo: Google Images)

Rebecca Morrelle of BBC Africa is reporting 3,000 years ago there was a huge wave of migration from Eurasia into Africa. In a study published in the journal Science, researchers extracted DNA from a 4,500-year-old skull that was discovered in the highlands of Ethiopia.  A comparison with genetic material from today’s Africans revealed how ancient ancestors mixed and moved around the continents, leading scientists to believe 25 percent of the modern DNA of Africans can be traced back to this migration.

Morrelle reports:

“‘Every single population for which we have data in Africa has a sizable component of Eurasian ancestry,’ said Dr Andrea Manica, from the University of Cambridge, who carried out the research.

Ancient genomes have been sequenced from around the world, but Africa has proved difficult because hot and humid conditions can destroy fragile DNA.

However, the 4,500-year-old remains of this hunter gatherer, known as Mota man, were found in a cave and were well preserved.

Importantly, a bone that is situated just below the ear, called the petrous, was intact.

Dr Manica, speaking to Science in Action on the BBC World Service, said: ‘The petrous bone is really hard and does a really good job of preventing bacteria getting in and degrading this DNA.’

‘What we were able to get is some very high quality undamaged DNA from which we could reconstruct the whole genome of the individual.’

‘We have the complete blueprint, every single gene, every single bit of information that made this individual that lived 4,500 years ago in Ethiopia.'”

The ‘Mota Man’ had pure African DNA and his ancestors never left the continent. Approximately 1500 years after his death, the genetic make-up of his ancestors changed and they believe it’s due to the Eurasian migration, after which some Africans who left, later returned.

Read more at BBC Africa.

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