Genomic insights into the origin of pre-historic populations in East Asia

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Researchers have long debated whether the peopling of East Asia by modern humans occurred mainly via a coastal or interior route. The answer is probably both. “Indigenous Andaman islanders of the Bay of Bengal, Indigenous Tibetans, ancient Taiwanese, and ancient and modern Japanese all derive ancestry from a deep shared lineage that split from other East Asian lineages more than 40,000 years ago,” says David Reich, co-senior author of the study, who is a Professor of Genetics and Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “The simplest way to explain this is if some of the earliest modern humans in East Asia spread along a coastal route linking southeast Asia, coastal China, and the Japanese Archipelago.” In contrast, the 40,000 year old Tianyuan individual — along with present-day and early Holocene people from Mongolia and the Amur River Basin — derive almost all their ancestry from a different early splitting lineage. This lineage plausibly expanded by an interior route and contributed in the highest proportion to ancient Mongolians, people of the Amur River Basin, and early farmers from the West Liao and Yellow River regions.

How East Asian populations got to be how they are today

Today there is a fairly high degree of genetic homogeneity in East Asia, reflecting mixtures of deeply splitting lineages that occurred especially in the last ten thousand years…

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