Photo: Hassan Doyen University
The bones of a teenager who died more than 7,000 years ago on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi are shedding new light on human history. It has to do with a human lineage that has never been found before, according to researchers in the famous scientific journal temper nature.
“For the first time, we’ve found human DNA in the island region between Asia and Australia called Wallasia,” said Adam Broome, an Australian professor of archeology who co-authored the study. CNN. “This gives us new insight into the genetic diversity and population history of ancient modern humans in this unknown part of the world.”
According to scientists, the islands of Wallacea, including such Indonesian islands as Lombok and Sulawesi, were used by modern humans when they crossed from Eurasia to the Australian continent 50,000 years ago. “We do not know how they got there. Perhaps they had a relatively advanced type of ship, since there were no bridges between the islands.”
Tools and cave paintings suggested that humans lived there 47,000 years ago, but DNA evidence was missing due to the tropical climate prevailing there. As a result, the DNA material degrades faster.
That has now changed. In 2015, researchers found the skeleton of a woman who must have been 17 or 18 years old in a cave in Sulawesi. Her remains were buried there 7,200 years ago. Bessie, as scholars call her, lay in the fetal position and the grave was filled with stones.
Bessé was part of the Toalean culture. “This is the name archaeologists give to the mysterious culture of prehistoric hunter-gatherers who lived on forested hills and mountains from about 8000 years ago until about the fifth century B.C.,” Broome said. It is the first time that a fairly complete skeleton of a hunter-gatherer of that culture has been found.
The DNA can be extracted from the skull, lead author Selena Karlhoff said. Seems like it was a “huge challenge”. But it was worth it, as it turned out. The young woman’s DNA offers new insight into human history as she appears to be descended from an unknown human lineage that can be found in that region. Not found before.
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