Collaborative study of ancient DNA in Africa unearths patterns of life in the Stone Age

A new study co-led by Jessica Thompson, assistant professor of anthropology at Yale and assistant curator at the Peabody Museum, has made crucial progress in studying the movements of African populations during the Stone Age by sequencing genomes from ancient DNA. The study was a product of collaboration involving researchers from Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and the United States.

The study, published Feb. 23 in the journal Nature, provides the first genetic evidence of major demographic changes among hunter-gatherer populations in eastern and south-central Africa during the last Ice Age. The analysis includes the earliest DNA extracted from ancient human remains in Africa and the oldest from anywhere in the tropics. The research team credited colleagues and curators from museums in Africa for protecting and preserving the remains that formed the basis of the study.

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