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'On the Eve of the First World War, the single Siberian province of Irkutsk was larger than all of India'

Tests on 45,000-year-old Siberian bone rewrites human history

By 0 and 0 and 0
24 October 2014


Cro-Magnon hunter in Magdalenian era. Picture: J. Augusta, Z. Burian

SCIENTISTS have concluded ground-breaking tests on 45,000-year-old remains found in Siberia and re-written the history of mankind's expansion across the planet.

A team of 28 international experts reconstructed DNA extracted from a fossil thighbone recovered from the banks of the Irtysh River, near Ust-Ishim village in Omsk, six years ago.

Their analysis of the man's genome, which was the oldest genetic record ever obtained, provided a new theory on how humans moved east from Africa into what is now Russia. It also helped pinpoint a period when the earliest humans interbred with their Neanderthal cousins.

Previous estimates had thought this took place anywhere between 37,000 and 86,000 years ago, but the new data has narrowed this down to between 52,000 and 58,000 years ago.

Dr Yaroslav Kuzmin, a senior fellow at the Sobolev Institute, and one of the scientists involved in the research, told: 'Genome comparisons show that the man lived close to the moment of division of the early modern homo sapiens population into two groups, migrating from Africa to Eurasia.

'DNA data shows that the Ust-Ishim individual has no direct descendants among the modern populations of Eurasia.'

Ust-Ishim bone in museum

Ust-Ishim bone

45,000-year-old human bone found in 2008 in Ust-Ishim. Pictures: Sergey Melnikov, Yaroslav Kuzmin

The 33cm-long human bone was found in 2008 by Nikolay Peristov, a historian from Omsk, who had been examining the muddy banks of the Irtysh River for signs of mammoth fossils.

Two years later tests by Siberian scientists showed it belonged to a man and was at least 10,000 years old, but to determine its age a tiny 1g sample was sent to Oxford University in the UK.

Experts from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, were also introduced to the research to utilise their skills in the study of ancient DNA.

It was eventually confirmed the remains were about 45,000 years old, and the oldest ever found in the world. Two years ago it also emerged the bones held DNA fragments, allowing further analysis to take place.

Among the first results of the new study was that the remains belonged to a man who had larger amounts of Neanderthal DNA than the population living today in Eurasia. That meant the man lived soon after the first interbreeding of Neanderthals and our direct ancestors.

It is thought humans appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago and research has previously stated that they expanded through the Middle East into the Old World. But the Siberian man's genome suggests his descendants lived after this exodus, but before they started heading east into Asia.

Nikolay Peristov

Ust-Ishim river bank

Omsk historian Nikolay Peristov (top). Bank of the Irtysh river near villages Panov and Ust-Ishim (bottom). Pictures: Sergey Melnikov, Yaroslav Kuzmin

One of the more interesting conclusions is the fact that the bone showed homo sapiens lived further north and east than previously believed, remarkable given the harsh climate in the centre of Western Siberia. Chemical ratios in the remains indicated the man would have lived on berries, nuts, vegetables, meat and fish.

A total of 28 scientists from 19 countries around the world worked on the latest research, which was published on Wednesday in Nature magazine.

Russia was represented by Siberian experts Sergei Slepchenko and Dmitry Razhev, from Tyumen, Yaroslav Kuzmin, from Novosibirsk, and Alexey Bondarev and Nicholay Peristov, from Omsk.


Comments (18)

My brother has a nice match with the Ust-Ishim individual. Total cM - 64.74 cM, Longest Segment 6.4 cM, Total Segments - 17. I also have a nice DNA match Total cM - 114.52 cM, Longest Segment 5.15 cM. Total Segments - 29. My mother has a DNA match Total cM - 50.83 cM, Longest Segment 5.93 cM. Total Segments - 14. My sister has Total cM - 36.06 cM, Longest Segment 5.28 cM. Total Segments - 9. Our mtDNA is H1a3
Elizabeth Birdlebough Vidal, USA
08/08/2023 14:50
I was messing with Gedmatch and my Archaic matches, moving up the CM to see who was 'last man standing'...why on Earth would it be this man be one of the last few remaining?
Linda, England
16/03/2022 22:59
Nice one..I can't believe I found such an old ancestor
GB, Australia
23/08/2021 13:45
not a bone .... its wood. more lies.
Jennifer Marcotullio, Canada
15/03/2021 19:24
I share DNA, 50% it tells me. Im finn, swede and baltic
Mark, USA
31/05/2020 08:54
According to Gedmatch I AM a living descendant of the DNA sample donor.
IshiYahu, Cascadia
14/04/2020 06:22
This is a Major discovery! Why isn't more known about this 45,000 year old being? I'm in awe of Science, but don't pretend to know much! By the way, the comment about the Pyramids in Bosnia fascinated me! My husband and I have traveled to several continents to see pyramids!

Thank you Kindly for this article!
Diana, U.S.A.
14/10/2018 09:37
Thanks for the column. I could the release of info off Sci-Fri, public radio (Iowa) and can't wait to hear more. DRM
DRM, Brandon/USA
29/10/2014 02:07
I really gained a lot from this discovery! Wish to read more soon.
samson ateboh, lagos, nigeria
27/10/2014 13:12
I really gained a lot from this discovery! Wish to read more soon.
samson, lagos, nigeria
27/10/2014 13:07
They could say "expanded from the Middle East" instead of "throught the Middle East" and be just as, or more accurate.
Alan Cornette, Slade/ U.S.A.
26/10/2014 21:18
They could say "expanded from the Middle East" instead of "throught the Middle East" and be just as, or more accurate.
Alan Cornette, Slade/ U.S.A.
26/10/2014 21:17
Right you are! US pseudoscience is always prejudiced toward an Afrocentric approach. Over the years, they ignored the Gravetian culture of Romania and they today ignore the pyramids of Bosnia. They focus only on researching fossil remains in Africa or any archeological finds, of course, in Israel. The wonderful finds in Karelia, discussed in Bock's Saga, were never funded, and very old hominid remains in SE Asia were ignored. Anyhting which interferes with the party line of a universal African descent and the Levant as the centre of civilization will be discarded, or at least never funded.
Georg Breckmann, Capshaw, USA
26/10/2014 12:22
Siberia* not russia, Siberia is a colony of russia, please do somer research.
Khaan, Someville
26/10/2014 01:37
you have to take into account the place where the bones were found could have been in a much warmer place in previous times , check polar shifts ,and remember the wooly mamouths found frozen with food in their mouths from some where warmer ,that were moved in the blink of a eye to sub zero conditions
johnny l, luton england
25/10/2014 02:25

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