Genetic Discontinuity Between Hunters & Farmers

Genetic Discontinuity Between Local Hunter-Gatherers and Central Europe’s First Farmers

Following the domestication of animals and crops in the Near East some 11,000 years ago, farming reached much of Central Europe by 7,500 years before present. The extent to which these early European farmers were immigrants, or descendants of resident hunter-gatherers who had adopted farming, has been widely debated. We compare new mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences from late European hunter-gatherer skeletons with those from early farmers, and from modern Europeans. We find large genetic differences between all three groups that cannot be explained by population continuity alone. Most (82%) of the ancient hunter-gatherers share mtDNA types that are relatively rare in Central Europeans today. Together, these analyses provide persuasive evidence that the first farmers were not the descendants of local hunter-gatherers but immigrated into Central Europe at the onset of the Neolithic.
see Science Mag