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Friday, January 1, 2010

30,000 year old mtDNA U2 from Kostenki, Russia

This is quite a result because it suggests at least some genetic continuity in Europe since the Upper Paleolithic:

We next analyzed how the Kostenki 14 mtDNA sequence relates to Neandertal and current human mtDNAs. It is clearly distinct from Neandertal mtDNAs and carries five diagnostic substitutions that define mtDNA haplogroup U2 (Figure S4) (rCRS positions 11,467, 12,308, 12,372, 1,811, and 16,051, based on, build 5).


Today, haplogroup U2 exists in North Africa, western Asia, and Europe [10]. The presence of haplogroup U in an early modern human in Europe is in agreement with analyses of present-day mtDNA, which suggested that haplogroup U has a deep coalescence and may thus be older than other haplogroups in Europe [10, 26].

At this stage it appears that Europe's Mesolithic inhabitants showed high frequencies of mtDNA U4 and U5 (see
here). So it seems the U family of mtDNA haplogroups was well represented in pre-Neolithic Europe, and indeed might have dominated the continent.

Johannes Krause et al., A Complete mtDNA Genome of an Early Modern Human from Kostenki, Russia, Current Biology, 31 December 2009, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.11.068