The origin and evolution of modern humans has always been a hot issue discussed by scientists around the world, and the emergence of ancient DNA capture techniques has brought new developments in this field. While the genetics of ancient humans in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Siberia have been well-studied, little is known to date about the genetics of ancient humans in East Asia, especially in China.

Piece of petrous bone from a ~9,500-year-old individual from Bianbian Cave, Shandong, China. This individual was part of a northern ancestry group found along the Yellow River and up into the eastern steppes of Siberia. [IMAGE: GAO WEI]

Using co-developed ancient DNA techniques, a team from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has published the first results of the study of the genetics of ancient humans in northern and southern China. 

Skull of Qihe 2, a ~8,400-year-old individual from Qihe Cave, Fujian, China [IMAGE: FAN XUECHUN]

Regarding the population formation of China, the research results reveal north-south differentiation ~8,400-4,000 years ago, with more recent mixture leading to admixed present-day populations in China today, with no substantial influence from populations outside of this region over the past 8400 years ago. In addition, Austronesian speakers and ancient southern Chinese share high genetic similarity, which suggests that populations giving rise to Austronesians likely originated in southern China at least 8400 years. This research presents the genetic and evolutionary history of Chinese prehistoric populations, filling in important information about the genetics, evolution and adaptation of prehistoric humans in China and other eastern areas.

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences 

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