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Ancient European farmers and foragers hooked up big time

Genetic evidence shows interbreeding after agriculture arrived from what’s now Turkey

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7:00am, November 10, 2017
European skull

MIXED ANCESTRY  Tiny samples taken from ancient European skulls, in a process shown here, yielded enough DNA for researchers to determine that farmers and foragers interbred in three different regions from 8,000 to nearly 4,000 years ago.

Thousands of years ago, hunter-gatherers native to Europe and incoming farmers from what’s now Turkey got up close and personal for a surprisingly long time, researchers say. This mixing reshaped the continent’s genetic profile differently from one region to another.

Ancient DNA from foragers and farmers in eastern, central and western Europe indicates that they increasingly mated with each other from around 8,000 to nearly 4,000 years ago, a team led by geneticist Mark Lipson of Harvard Medical School in Boston reports online November 8 in Nature. That time range covers much of Europe’s Neolithic period, which was characterized by the spread of farming, animal domestication and polished stone tools.

The new findings lend support to the idea that Europe and western Asia witnessed substantial human population growth and migrations during the Neolithic, says archaeologist Peter Bellwood of Australian National University in Canberra. So much

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