35,000 year old female skull found in the Pestera Muierii cave in Romania.
Source: Daily Mail
The basic evolutionary history of Homo sapiens is now so well established that new discoveries are tending to fill in the detail rather than cause existing thinking to be substantially revised. Far from being a 'theory in crisis' as the creation industry would have people believe, Darwin's fundamental principles of evolution are actually being confirmed with each new find and the Theory of Evolution is proving to be the only scientific theory capable of making sense of the entire picture.
We know that H. sapiens evolved in Africa and that there was a subsequent migration out of Africa and into Eurasia on at least one occasion. Everything else is now more or less filling in the details of what happened next and how that migrant population spread, diversified and re-mixed to give the modern Eurasian populations with its present geographical distribution of genes.
In this open access paper, a team of researchers present evidence that at least some of the descendant of the early migrant population probably returned to Africa where their descendants now form a significant proportion of the population of North Africa. They did this by managing to extract and analyse the mitochondrial DNA from two teeth from a 35,000 years old fossil female skull found in the Pestera Muierii cave in Romania.
The Human Evolutionary Biology group of the Faculty of Science and Technology, led by Concepción de la Rua, in collaboration with researchers in Sweden, the Netherlands and Romania, found that this DNA was of the U6 basal lineage. This has now disappeared but the descendants of it are now found mostly in Northwest African populations.
(A) Phylogenetic analysis and temporal estimates for lineages including the Peştera Muierii-1 (PM1) from the mitochondrial tree. (B) Location of the Peştera Muierii cave and surface map based on current frequencies of U6 lineages1,2
1. Secher, B. et al. The history of the North African mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U6 gene flow into the African, Eurasian and American continents. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14, 109 (2014).
2. European borders map was generated in ArcMap 10.1 (ESRI, http://www.esri.com) by modifying the World Borders Dataset (http://www.thematicmapping.org/downloads/world_borders.php), which is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
(This map was created by A.A.).
After the dispersal of modern humans (Homo sapiens) Out of Africa, hominins with a similar morphology to that of present-day humans initiated the gradual demographic expansion into Eurasia. The mitogenome (33-fold coverage) of the Peştera Muierii 1 individual (PM1) from Romania (35 ky cal BP) we present in this article corresponds fully to Homo sapiens, whilst exhibiting a mosaic of morphological features related to both modern humans and Neandertals. We have identified the PM1 mitogenome as a basal haplogroup U6*, not previously found in any ancient or present-day humans. The derived U6 haplotypes are predominantly found in present-day North-Western African populations. Concomitantly, those found in Europe have been attributed to recent gene-flow from North Africa. The presence of the basal haplogroup U6* in South East Europe (Romania) at 35 ky BP confirms a Eurasian origin of the U6 mitochondrial lineage. Consequently, we propose that the PM1 lineage is an offshoot to South East Europe that can be traced to the Early Upper Paleolithic back migration from Western Asia to North Africa, during which the U6 lineage diversified, until the emergence of the present-day U6 African lineages.
M. Hervella, E. M. Svensson, A. Alberdi, T. Günther, N. Izagirre, A. R. Munters, S. Alonso, M. Ioana, F. Ridiche, A. Soficaru, M. Jakobsson, M. G. Netea, C. de-la-Rua.
The mitogenome of a 35,000-year-old Homo sapiens from Europe supports a Palaeolithic back-migration to Africa.
Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 25501 DOI: 10.1038/srep25501
The same team is also in the process of analysing the nuclear DNA to discover any relationship with Neanderthals because a feature of the skulls found in the Peştera Muierii cave is that they are something of a morphological mosaic of H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis.
There is, of course, no sign whatsoever in this paper that there is any difficulty or inconsistency in the scientific evidence for the evolutionary origins of modern humans. This finding is entirely consistent with a theory which would expect evolutionary progression from an archaic form of mitochondrial DNA to the modern forms of its descendants, and that human mitochondrial DNA forms naturally nested hierarchies like a family tree. This is not only consistent with this evolutionary progression but actually confirmatory of it.
There will, of course, if they have the courage to acknowledge this finding at all, be the usual dismissal of it as 'just a human being not a new species' and the pretense that evolution is something other than this sort of gradual evolutionary change over time. There will be no attempt to give an alternative explanation for nested hierarchies and the existence of more primitive forms in archaic DNA because these are entirely inconsistent with both special creation and intelligent design.
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