Oldest human DNA found in the UK reveals the origins of the early Britons

Teeth and bones from Kendrick Cave in North Wales.

Human remains from Kendrick Cave, from which DNA was recently extracted.
picture: R. Stevens

Researchers investigating ancient remains found in England and Wales have determined that they contain some of the oldest human DNA obtained in the UK. DNA indicates that Britain was occupied by two unrelated groups, which scientists believe migrated to the island at the end of the last Ice Age.

“The finding of the two breeds so recently in Britain, only a thousand years or so apart, adds to the emerging picture. [Paleolithic] Europe, which is one of a changing and dynamic population, said Mattia Hajdenjak, a geneticist specializing in ancient DNA at the Francis Crick Institute, University College London. Release. search published Today in ecology and evolution.

The team looked at the DNA of the remains of two people found in caves in England and Wales. The history of the English language is still about 15,000 years ago, while the Welsh history still dates back to about 13,500 years ago. The oldest remains were found at Gough Cave, Somerset, and the newer remains were found at Kendrick Cave in Wales.

When these people were alive, Britain was connected to mainland Europe by a now submerged land bridge called Doggerland. As the climate warmed and the ice melted, the sea level rose, cutting off the island.

Both remains are from the Late Ice Age, the era characterized by Neanderthals and woolly mammoths and ending with the end of the last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago.

DNA sequencing and comparison with previously analyzed DNA from Western Eurasia and North Africa Detecting individuals dates. The ancestors of the Gough Cave individuals arrived from northwest Europe in a migration about 16,000 years ago, while R.Looks like Kendrick’s Cave individual has gone down From a Western hunting and gathering group that arrived in Britain about 14,000 years ago, its origins are in the Near East.

Part of the Gough Cave face.

Besides sequencing the DNA of two people, the researchers also performed chemical analyzes of other bones and teeth found at the sites. It is possible that those who lived near Kendrick Cave ate seafood and freshwater foods, while those in Gough Cave lived on terrestrial mammals such as oxen and red deer.

Gough’s Cave is where the remains of Cheddar Man were found. cheddar man He was a person who was lactose intolerant and died in his mid-20s about 10,000 years ago, his remains discovered in 1903.

“We learned from our previous work, including the study of cheddar man, that Western hunters were in Britain about 10,500 years ago. [before present]Study co-author Selena Price, a paleontologist at the British Natural History Museum, said at the same time Release.

The groups in the two caves also had different cultural practices. Ornate animal bones – and there are no bones with signs of consumption – suggest that the cave in Wales was primarily used for burial, not for occupation. Meanwhile, bones and skulls chewed up in cups in Gough Cave indicate that they are The inhabitants were ritualistic cannibals.

There is still a lot to understand when people arrived in Britain and how these ancient populations interacted, but new research points us to the origins of two early groups.

More: Iron Age settlement with large circular houses and Roman ornaments found in the UK

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