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Scientists for the first time reconstruct genome of ancient Chinese

By Sun Wenyu (People's Daily Online)    16:17, October 13, 2017

The Tianyuan Cave site

A team of Chinese and German scientists has for the first time reconstructed the genome of an ancient Chinese person after extracting nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from the man’s leg bone, which was found in 2003 at the Tianyuan Cave site, located outside Beijing, Chinese media outlet thepaper.cn reported on Oct. 13.

The scientists used new techniques that can identify ancient genetic material from an archaeological find even when large quantities of DNA from soil bacteria are present.

Comparing that data with other genomic data, the scientists carried out thorough studies on this hard-won genetic profile.

Skeleton of Tianyuan Man

According to Fu Qiaomei, a researcher on the project, Tianyuan Man shares DNA with one ancient European—a 35,000-year-old modern human from Goyet Caves in Belgium. However, the results show that Tianyuan Man is more closely related with ancient people living in East Asia.

Tianyuan Man is not the immediate ancestor of the present-day people in East Asia, according to Fu. This branch of ancient East Asians has become extinct at some point of time in history.

The finding was published in the international academic journal Current Biology on Oct. 13. In addition, it has also offered a surprising insight into the evolution of ancient Native Americans.

The big surprise here is that Tianyuan Man also shares a close genetic relationship with Native Americans living in the Amazon region. It suggests that this group of people might be the offspring of an unknown branch of ancient humans who had a connection with Tianyuan Man.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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