7,000-year-old Indonesian woman redefines vision of early humans | Scientific and technological news

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Research on the remains provides the first clue that mixing between early humans in Indonesia and Siberia occurred earlier than previously thought.

Genetic traces in the body of a young woman who died 7,000 years ago have provided the first clue that the mixing between the first humans in Indonesia and those of distant Siberia took place much earlier than previously thought. previously.

Theories on the first human migrations in Asia could be transformed by research published in the scientific journal Nature in August, after analysis of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), or genetic fingerprint, of the woman who received a burial ritual in an Indonesian cave. , according to the Reuters news agency which reported the findings on Wednesday.

“It is possible that the Wallacea region was the meeting point of two human species, between the Denisovans and the early homo sapiens,” said Basran Burhan, archaeologist from Griffith University in Australia.

Burhan, one of the scientists who participated in the research, was referring to the region of Indonesia that includes South Sulawesi, where the body, buried with stones in the hands and on the pelvis, was found in the complexes. of Leang Pannige Caves.

The Denisovans were a group of ancient humans named after a cave in Siberia where their remains were first identified in 2010. Scientists understand little of them, and even the details of their appearance are not widely known. .

Besse’s DNA, as the researchers named the young woman in Indonesia, using the term for a newborn in the regional Bugi language, is one of the few well-preserved specimens found in the tropics.

This showed that although she is descended from the Austronesian people common to Southeast Asia and Oceania, she also had genetic traces of Denisovan, the scientists said.

“Genetic analyzes show that this pre-Neolithic forager… shares most of the genetic drift and morphological similarities with present-day Papuan and indigenous Australian groups,” they said in the journal.

The remains are currently stored at a university in the town of Makassar in South Sulawesi.

Besse’s DNA, as the researchers named the young woman in Indonesia, is one of the few well-preserved specimens found in the tropics [File: Abd Rahman Muchtar/Reuters]

Until recently, scientists believed that peoples from North Asia such as the Denisovans did not arrive in Southeast Asia until about 3,500 years ago.

Besse’s DNA alters theories on such patterns of early human migration and may also offer insight into the origins of Papuans and indigenous Australians who share Denisovan’s DNA.

“Migration theories will change, as race theories will also change,” said Iwan Sumantri, professor at Hasanuddin University in South Sulawesi, who is also involved in the project.

Besse’s remains are the first sign of Denisovans among the Austronesians, who are Indonesia’s oldest ethnic group, he added.

“Now try to imagine how they propagated and distributed their genes to reach Indonesia,” Sumantri said.

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