Table of contents:
- 1. People descended from one man and woman
- 2. Crossbreeding of different types of early humans
- 3. Tibetans - descendants of Denisovans
- 4. The first British were black
- 5. King Richard III of England was a hunchback
- 5. Pharaoh Tut's parents were brother and sister
- 7. The Clovis people weren't the first in America
- 8. Columbus did not infect America with tuberculosis
- 9. Descendants of Vikings are at risk of emphysema
- 10. Malaria contributed to the fall of ancient Rome
DNA is present in every living thing, including humans. It carries the genetic information of each person, passing on his traits to the next generation. It also allows people to trace their origins back to their earliest ancestors. By analyzing the DNA of ancient people and their ancestors, as well as comparing it with the DNA of modern people, you can find more accurate information about the origin of humanity. Here are just some of the interesting facts that scientists have learned through the study of ancient DNA.
1. People descended from one man and woman
According to the Bible, every person is a descendant of Adam and Eve, the first people who ever lived on Earth. Science supports this theory in part, albeit with some curious differences. First, the "scientific versions" of Adam and Eve were not the first humans. Secondly, modern people are not their direct children. Instead, every man is descended from a man, and every woman is descended from a woman. Scientists call the man "Y-chromosome Adam" and the woman "mitochondrial Eve." Adam with a Y chromosome lived in Africa somewhere between 125,000 and 156,000 years ago. Mitochondrial Eve lived in East Africa somewhere between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago. Unlike the biblical Adam and Eve, it is unlikely that these two ever met, although they could have lived at the same time. The scientists concluded that Adam with a Y chromosome was the ancestor of all males after sequencing the Y chromosome of 69 males from seven different ethnic groups. For Mitochondrial Eve, they tested the mitochondrial DNA of 69 men and 24 other women.
2. Crossbreeding of different types of early humans
In 2012, archaeologists discovered a curious bone fragment in the Denisova Cave in Siberia. The bone was part of the shin or thigh of an ancient man whom they named "Denisova 11". DNA tests subsequently revealed that Denisova 11 was a woman who lived about 50,000 years ago and was over 13 years old when she died. She was also a hybrid of two early humans: Neanderthal and Denisovan (her father was Denisovan and her mother was Neanderthal). Interestingly, the father of "Denisova 11" was also a descendant of the Neanderthal-Denisov hybrid. However, unlike his daughter, who was a direct descendant, his hybrid ancestor lived 300 to 600 generations before him. Scientists know that the branches of the Denisovans and Neanderthals parted 390,000 years ago. However, prior to this discovery, they never knew they were interbreeding. DNA analyzes also showed that the Neanderthal mother of Denisova 11 was more closely associated with the Neanderthals of Western Europe than with the Neanderthals who lived in Denisova Cave earlier in prehistory.
3. Tibetans - descendants of Denisovans
Continuing the conversation about crossbreeding, DNA tests proved that the inhabitants of Tibet are the descendants of the Denisovans. Naturally, this does not mean that the Tibetans are Denisovan people, they are Homo Sapiens, just one of their ancestors Homo Sapiens "sinned" with a Denisovan man. Scientists discovered this by comparing the genome extracted from Denisova 11 with the genomes of 40 Tibetans.They found that the Tibetan EPAS1 gene was similar to the EPAS1 gene of Denisova 11. The EPAS1 gene is found in all humans and is responsible for directing the body's natural response in a low oxygen environment (making more hemoglobin to transport oxygen to tissues when oxygen is not enough). While it provides survival, the gene also puts people at risk for heart problems.
However, Tibetans have a mutated EPAS1 gene - their bodies do not produce more hemoglobin if there is not enough oxygen. That is why they can live at high altitudes, where oxygen is scarce. Scientists suspect that the ancestors of the Tibetans acquired this gene when one of them mated with a Denisovan man about 30,000 to 40,000 years ago. However, scientists did not confirm whether the mutated EPAS1 gene also allowed Denisovans to live at a higher altitude, as happens with the Tibetans.
4. The first British were black
In 1903, scientists discovered the 10,000-year-old remains of a British man in a cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. A 2018 DNA test revealed that the man had either dark brown or black skin, curly black hair, and blue eyes - considering that this is the oldest complete human skeleton ever found in Britain, this means that the earliest Britons were black. Interestingly, in the 1990s, Professor Brian Sykes of Oxford University tested 20 people in the village of Cheddar and compared their DNA with the genes of the "Cheddar Man." He discovered that the two people living in the village were descendants of the "Cheddar Man."
5. King Richard III of England was a hunchback
In 2012, archaeologists from the University of Leicester began excavating a parking lot in Leicester. Previously, there was a Franciscan church on this site, where King Richard III was supposedly buried. They did find the remains of the monarch there, which made Richard III famous for being the king whose remains were found under the parking lot. Scientists confirmed that the skeleton did indeed belong to the king when they tested his DNA with that of a living relative. There were also wound marks on the skull that matched historical records (King Richard III died of a head wound during the Battle of Bosworth). An interesting fact was also revealed - the king's spine was curved. This meant that the king was indeed a hunchback.
5. Pharaoh Tut's parents were brother and sister
Tutankhamun remains one of the most famous pharaohs who ruled Egypt. He began to rule when he was only ten years old and died around 1324 BC when he was only 19 years old. Archaeologists excavated his grave in 1922. Surprisingly, they found it intact - complete with gems and gold jewelry. Physical analysis of the remains of Tutankhamun showed that the pharaoh clearly did not enjoy his short life. His left leg was deformed, which forced him to walk with a cane. In fact, 130 walking sticks were found in the pharaoh's grave. Further DNA analysis revealed that his deformed leg was the result of inbreeding. Tutankhamun also suffered from malaria, which prevented him from healing his deformed leg. DNA analysis showed that Tutankhamun's father was Akhenaten, the son of Amenhotep III (Tutankhamun's grandfather), and the mother was also the daughter of Amenhotep III. Those. Pharaoh's father and mother were brother and sister. Some historians believe that his mother was Queen Nefertiti, although this theory is disputed because she was not associated with Akhenaten.
7. The Clovis people weren't the first in America
The Clovis culture is believed to have been the first settlers in America. These people reached North America 13,000 years ago, migrated to South America 11,000 years ago, and disappeared 9,000 years ago. However, in 2018, DNA tests on ancient human remains showed that the Clovis culture was not the first to settle in America.While the DNA of ancient humans found in North America proves that Clovis lived in North America 12,800 years ago, things are different in South America. DNA tests carried out on the remains of 49 ancient South American people show that the Clovis people first appeared in South America 11,000 years ago. Interestingly, archaeologists already have evidence that some unidentified culture lived in Monte Verde, Chile, 14,500 years ago. It is believed that the 12,800-year-old human remains found earlier in South America belonged to this tribe, as they do not share DNA with the Clovis people.
8. Columbus did not infect America with tuberculosis
It is often said that the voyage of Christopher Columbus sparked an epidemic of several deadly diseases in America, including tuberculosis, in the late 15th century. These diseases have resulted in the death of 90 percent of the Native American population. However, DNA tests suggest otherwise. Seals brought tuberculosis to America long before Columbus arrived. Scientists made this discovery when they analyzed three sets of human remains from Peru. It is believed that humans died 1000 years ago, 500 years before the arrival of Columbus. DNA tests showed that the strain of tuberculosis they had was closest to the strain found in infected seals and sea lions. Europe, Asia and Africa experienced deadly tuberculosis epidemics at the time of the deaths of the Peruvians. Scientists suspect that seals and sea lions somehow got infected during one of the epidemics in Africa and unwittingly brought the disease with them to America when they migrated to its shores. The Peruvian natives contracted the mutated strain of tuberculosis while hunting seals and sea lions for food. Naturally, this does not mean that Columbus and his people were completely innocent. As far as we know, they did bring the deadly European type of tuberculosis to America.
9. Descendants of Vikings are at risk of emphysema
In 2016, researchers led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine showed that descendants of Vikings have a higher risk of developing a serious lung condition called emphysema (which is commonly found in smokers). Analysis of Viking Age toilets in Denmark showed that the Vikings suffered from parasitic worms so much that their alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) inhibitor gene mutated to fight the enzymes secreted by the worms. The human body naturally produces inhibitors (including A1AT) that prevent powerful enzymes secreted in it from digesting internal organs. However, for the Vikings and their descendants, the increased ability of the A1AT inhibitor to cope with the enzymes secreted by the worms also reduced its ability to interfere with the enzymes secreted in their bodies to digest internal organs. Today, the mutated A1AT inhibitor is useless, as there are drugs to fight worms. But DNA tests show that the descendants of the Vikings still have the mutated inhibitor. This means that in the descendants of the Vikings, the body is unable to cope with its own enzymes, which leads to lung disease.
10. Malaria contributed to the fall of ancient Rome
Researchers have always suspected that malaria contributed to the fall of ancient Rome. However, only recently did they confirm that the malaria epidemic really hit ancient Rome and contributed to its death. Scientists made the discovery in 2011 when they analyzed the remains of 47 babies and toddlers excavated from an ancient Roman villa in Lugnano, Italy. The oldest of the "Lugnano children," as they were called, was only three years old. All died and were buried at about the same time, and more than half died before their birth. They fell victim to one of a series of malaria epidemics that ravaged ancient Rome. The army suffered the most, in which they could not collect enough soldiers to repel the raids of foreign invaders.
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