Posted 13 января 12:09

Published 13 января 12:09

Modified 13 января 12:52

Updated 13 января 12:52

Traces of mysteriously disappeared prehistoric people have been found in Altai

13 января 2023, 12:09
Paleontologists have analyzed the genomes of ancient people who lived in the Altai. In the past, it was here, at the crossroads of migrations between Northern Siberia, Central Asia and East Asia, that the first evidence of the existence of Denisovans – extinct relatives of modern humans - was found.

German paleogeneticists have discovered traces of a previously unknown group of hunter-gatherers who lived in Siberia more than 10,000 years ago, LiveScience reports. In addition, they found out that this group was genetically related to a shaman who lived about 6,500 years ago 1,500 kilometers west of them.

It is known that the territory stretching from western to northeastern Siberia played a key role in the spread of people around the globe. The first people who arrived in America at the latest 13,000 years ago came here through Beringia, a land "bridge" that once connected North Asia with North America and was subsequently flooded by the Bering Strait.

However, the genetic composition of the people who lived here at that time is poorly known due to the fact that the remains of prehistoric people with enough DNA to study in this region are extremely rare. The authors of the new study analyzed 10 genomes of ancient people, some of whom lived 7,500 years ago in the Altai. In the past, it was here, at the crossroads of migrations between Northern Siberia, Central Asia and East Asia, that the first evidence of the existence of Denisovans, who, along with Neanderthals, are the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, was found.

A previously unknown group of hunter-gatherers discovered in the Altai descended from two different populations that lived in Siberia during the last ice Age. Their DNA has been found in many later communities throughout Northern Asia since the Bronze Age. The researchers also found that over the past 5,000 years, people have migrated not only from Eurasia to North America, but also back: genes from the New World reached Kamchatka and central Siberia.

Another curious discovery turned out to be that the remains of a shaman found in the Nizhnetytkeskenskaya cave in Altai – he was found with appropriate clothing and artifacts – are genetically related to populations in the Russian Far East, who lived 1,500 km away. "This means that people with very different [genetic] profiles lived in the same region," the scientists report, "Its burial accessories differ from other archaeological sites, which implies the mobility of both culturally and genetically diverse people in the Altai region." There is a possibility that this person was a wandering religious practitioner or healer.

In any case, groups of people in prehistoric times were more closely interconnected than previously thought. This means that migrations and interbreeding between different populations for ancient hunter-gatherers were not an exception, but the norm.

The study is published in the journal Current Biology.