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28 September 2012

Genetics shed light on evolution

The Khoi-San peoples of southern Africa are descendants of the earliest diversification event in human history, a new study shows. This event occurred about 100 000 years ago.

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The Khoi-San peoples of southern Africa are descendants of the earliest diversification event in human history, a new study shows. This event occurred about 100 000 years ago, well before modern humans began migrating out of Africa.

For the study, researchers looked at about 220 people from different regions in southern Africa and analysed about 2.3 million DNA variants per person. The findings were published online in the journal Science.

What the research found

The team of international scientists also found unexpected variance among Khoi-San groups. For example, they estimated that the San populations from northern Namibia and Angola separated from the Khoi and San populations in South Africa perhaps 25 000 to 40 000 years ago.

The major divergences among different groups of people in Africa have important implications and consequences in terms of human evolutionary history, said Mattias Jakobsson of Uppsala University in Sweden.

The deep structure and patterns of genetic variation suggest a complex population history among groups of people in Africa.

"The human population has been structured for a long time and it is possible that modern humans emerged from a non-homogeneous group," Jakobsson said in a University of the Witwatersrand news release.

 (HealthDay, September 2012)

 
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