All Caucasian people have Viking ancestors

Europe's gene pool: ancestors also come from the Caucasus

The Europeans are a colorful mix of people: 45,000 years ago, before the end of the Ice Age, people migrated to the continent and mingled with the Neanderthals, who had long since been native to the region; here they stayed in small retreat rooms until it got warmer. Technologically and culturally innovative immigrants joined the original Europeans at least twice and contributed essential parts to today's gene pool: first the agricultural pioneers of the Neolithic Age 10,000 years ago, then - much later, towards the Bronze Age - above all the corded ceramists, who perhaps even the brought the Indo-European language with them. Researchers are still arguing about this last large group - where exactly did these people come from, and which genes did they in turn bring with them from where?

A new study brings surprisingly clear evidence. Andrea Manica from the University of Cambridge and her colleagues analyzed the genes from the remains of two people who lived 10,000 and 13,000 years ago in what is now Georgia. It turned out that both formed a completely new, hitherto unknown line of the European family tree: a branch that was formed at the beginning of the immigration of the modern homo sapiens to Europe had split off from the well-known hunters and gatherers of Western Europe. Apparently these people survived the Ice Age in isolation from other groups in the Caucasus region, as evidenced by the low genetic diversity between the two people, who come from different millennia.

This article is contained in Spectrum Compact, Man & Earth - The Settlement of the Continents

But then the Ice Age survivors from the Caucasus contributed their part to the repopulation of the world, the researchers report: Their gene signatures can also be found thousands of years later in the genome of the Yamnaja, a steppe people who settled semi-nomadically north of the Black and Caspian Seas in the Stone Age. From these yamnaja the wandering Urindo Europeans finally fed, who then, together with their language, overturned the pre-bronze age Europe from the southeast. Thus, according to Manica and colleagues, the Ice Age Caucasians would be a previously neglected "fourth pillar" of the European gene pool, for which three sources had previously been suspected.

Little was known about the genetic origin of the Jamna people, the scientists add: It was known that they come from various known hunter-gatherer peoples of the Eurasian steppe, but other parts of the genome could not be classified. These seem to have been contributed from the Caucasus. In fact, the old Georgians are probably also the ancestors of Asian settlers: the genes of Caucasian hunters and gatherers agree better than others with a previously unexplained genetic component in today's Indian population. It is possible that steppe peoples like the Yamnaja brought ancient Caucasus genes not only to Europe, but also to India.