Genetics study lays bare Ice Age drama for humans in Europe

By | March 2, 2023

Reuters reports:

Europe was no balmy paradise during the Ice Age, with the vast glaciers that blanketed large parts of the continent rendering wide swathes inhospitable for humans. But our species – a new immigrant to Europe – endured, though with great hardship.

Researchers on Wednesday unveiled an analysis of genome data from 356 hunter-gatherers who lived in the region between 35,000 and 5,000 years ago, a span that included the Ice Age’s coldest interval between 25,000 and 19,000 years ago. This enabled them to decipher prehistoric Europe’s population dynamics, including the movement of groups of people and some key physical traits.

While some populations hunkered down and survived in relatively warmer parts of Europe, including France, Spain and Portugal, others died out on the Italian peninsula, the study showed. It also provided insight into the advent of characteristics such as light skin and blue eyes in Europeans.

“It is the largest ancient genomic dataset of European hunter-gatherers ever produced,” said paleogeneticist Cosimo Posth of the University of Tübingen in Germany, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature. [Continue reading…]

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