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The mitochondrial haplotype U5a1 was identified from an Eneolithic grave associated with the Afanasievo archaeological culture in Bayankhongor Province, Erdenetsogt Township, at the site of Shatar Chuluu. This is the earliest appearance of an mtDNA haplotype associated with modern European populations on the Mongol Steppe. This evidence demonstrations that people with “western” mtDNA lived on the Mongol Steppe east of the Altai Mountains before the Bronze Age and refutes the notion that the Altai Mountains were a substantial barrier to gene flow, and definitively expands the acknowledged range of the Afanasievo archaeological culture.
Genetic studies on pre-Hispanic populations of the Southern Andes have been increasing steadily in the last decade. Nevertheless, ancient DNA characterization of Formative Period archaeological human remains is particularly scant, especially for Northwest Argentina. To expand current information on genetic characterization of the first agricultural communities of the southern Calchaquí Valleys, we present and discuss the first mitochondrial ancient DNA information obtained on samples dated to ca. 3,600–1,900 years before present from the Cajón Valley, Catamarca Province. Reproducible mtDNA hypervariable region 1 (HVR-1) sequences were obtained in seven individuals. Mitochondrial HVR-1 haplotypes were assigned to three of the four founding haplogroups, D1 (57.1%), C1 (28.5%), and B2 (14.2%), with absence of A2. Our results show that the Cajón Valley sample, with predominance of D1 and C1, differs from that commonly observed in ancient and modern Andean populations, which usually show a high prevalence of haplogroup B2. The fact that the Cajón Valley and Pampa Grande (Salta Province, Argentina) share a prevalence of haplogroup D1 could provide additional evidence to support possible genetic affinities between the valleys and the eastern sub-Andean region during the Formative Period in Northwest Argentina, expanding the archaeological evidence of contact between both populations. Future complete mitogenomic analysis will provide substantial information to formulate new hypotheses about the origins and phylogenetic relationships between the individuals of the Cajón Valley and other groups from the Andes, Gran Chaco, and the Amazon.
Tacuarembó is a department located in northeastern Uruguay, whose population is the result of several migration waves from Europe and Near East, as well as Africans and Afro-descents mostly from Brazil; these waves settled with the territory's various Native ethnic groups (Charrúa, Minuán, and Guaraní). In the past, this population has been the focus of genetic studies showing this trihybrid origin, with greater contributions of Natives and Africans than in other Uruguayan regions. In this study we analyzed eight Alu insertions (A25, ACE, APOA1, B65, D1, F13B, PV92, TPA25) to provide valuable information for ancestrality and genetic differentiation and to compare with both previous studies on the Tacuarembó population and Alu frequencies in other Uruguayan populations. The European contribution to Alu and classical markers was almost equal to that of a previous study using 22 classical markers (63% vs. 65%), while African contribution was higher (30% vs. 15%), and Native American contribution shows an important difference in Alu: 7% versus 20%. We found no significant differences in genetic differentiation between Tacuarembó and Montevideo but significant differences between Tacuarembó and Basque descendants from Trinidad. Our results support previous findings obtained with classical markers that demonstrate the trihybrid composition of the Tacuarembó population, correlated with historical records. Thus, Alu insertions provide interesting information in light of the admixture process in the Uruguayan population.
The Fujian Tanka people are officially classified as a southern Han ethnic group, whereas they have customs similar to Daic and Austronesion people. Whether they originated in Han or Daic people, there is no consensus. Three hypotheses have been proposed to explain the origin of this group: (1) the Han Chinese origin, (2) the ancient Daic origin, (3) and the admixture between Daic and Han. This study addressed this issue by analyzing the paternal Y chromosome and maternal mtDNA variation of 62 Fujian Tanka and 25 neighboring Han in Fujian. The southern East Asian predominant haplogroups (e.g., Y-chromosome O1a1a-P203 and O1b1a1a-M95, and mtDNA F2a, M7c1, and F1a1) had relatively high frequencies in Tanka. The interpopulation comparison revealed that the Tanka have a closer affinity with Daic populations than with Han Chinese in paternal lineages but are closely clustered with southern Han populations such as Hakka and Chaoshanese in maternal lineages. Network and haplotype-sharing analyses also support the admixture hypothesis. The Fujian Tanka mainly originate from the ancient indigenous Daic people and have only limited gene flows from Han Chinese populations. Notably, the divergence time inferred by the Tanka-specific haplotypes indicates that the formation of Fujian Tanka was a least 1033.8–1050.6 years before present (the early Northern Song dynasty), indicating that they are an indigenous population, not late Daic migrants from southwestern China.
Bayesian methods have been adopted by anthropologists for their utility in resolving complex questions about human history based on genetic data. The main advantages of Bayesian methods include simple model comparison, presenting results as a summary of probability distributions, and the explicit inclusion of prior information into analyses. In the field of anthropological genetics, for example, implementing Bayesian skyline plots and approximate Bayesian computation is becoming ubiquitous as means to analyze genetic data for the purpose of demographic or historic inference. Correspondingly, there is a critical need for better understanding of the underlying assumptions, proper applications, and limitations of these two methods by the larger anthropological community. Here we review Bayesian skyline plots and approximate Bayesian computation as applied to human demography and provide examples of the application of these methods to anthropological research questions. We also review the two core components of Bayesian demographic analysis: the coalescent and Bayesian inference. Our goal is to describe their basic mechanics in an attempt to demystify them.