Chinese and foreign scientists have unveiled their findings in the first genome-wide study of an ancient human in China -- a 40,000-year-old individual from Tianyuan cave near Beijing.
The study, jointly conducted by researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other teams including the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology based in Germany, was published in the journal Current Biology Thursday.
Scientists generated genome-wide data from the Tianyuan individual to study his relationship to ancient and present-day humans, and found that he was more closely related to present-day and ancient Asians than he was to Europeans, according to the article titled "40,000-Year-Old Individual from Asia Provides Insight into Early Population Structure in Eurasia."
However, they found that the Tianyuan individual was not from a population that is directly ancestral to any group of present-day East or Southeast Asians but rather belonged to a population that diverged from the population that directly contributed to present-day East and Southeast Asians.
The study highlighted the complex migration and subdivision of early human populations in Eurasia.
Researchers found some genetic similarity between the individual and a 35,000-year-old individual from Belgium, but these similarities were not found between the Tianyuan individual and other ancient humans in Europe.
They believed that the Tianyuan individual and the individual from Belgium may share ancestry from a population that did not contribute ancestry to the other Upper Paleolithic Eurasians analyzed to date.