Skeleton shows Swedes among ‘first’ Europeans

Swedes are more closely related to to the first Europeans than either the French or the Germans, according to DNA taken from a 37,000 year-old skeleton.

Skeleton shows Swedes among 'first' Europeans
The skull of the fossil of Kostenki XIV. AP Photo/Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography

The skeleton belonged to a man who lived in Kostenki, which is part of what is now Russia.

Dubbed "the first European", the skeleton was examined by experts as part of a study into the early origins of Europeans. 

"From a genetic point of view he is a European. In fact he is more closely related to the Danes, Swedes, Finns and Russians than with the French, Germans or the Spaniards," said Eske Willerslev, director of Centre of Excellence in GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, and one of the researchers involved in the study.

The purpose of the study was to find out when the divergence between the people who became Europeans and Asians occurred.

Scientific journals reported that analysis of the Kostenki skeleton also revealed the presence of Neanderthal genes. Previous scientific findings indicated that there was a brief period when Neanderthals and humans bred together.

"What we can see from Kostenki and other ancient genomes is that for 30,000 years there was a single meta-population in Europe. These Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer groups split up, mixed, dispersed and changed, and through ancient genomes we can trace the genetic thread of their shared ancestry," Willerslev added .

The study of ancient DNA material confirmed that the human populations now predominant in Eurasia and East Asia split more than 36,200 years ago.

Researchers used new techniques to analyze genetic samples from the left tibia of a young man who died 38,700-36,200 years ago. 

TT/The Local/pr

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