Mysterious Gap in European DNA Puzzling Scientists
According to a new study conducted at the University of Adelaide in Australia, researchers have discovered that the genetic lineage of Europe mysteriously transformed about 4,000-5,000 years ago. The anomaly was found when a team of Australian scientists were conducting tests on some 7,500 year old skeletons that were unearthed in central Germany in order to reconstruct a detailed genetic history of modern Europe.
'What is intriguing is that the genetic markers of this first pan-European culture, which was clearly very successful, were then suddenly replaced around 4,500 years ago, and we don't know why,' study co-author Alan Cooper of the Australian Center for Ancient DNA said.
The study, published today in Nature Communications, utilized new advanced methods of analysis to sequence entire mitochondrial genomes from the skeletons. This process was able to reveal a series of events in precise detail, including that the first farmers in Central Europe resulted from genetic input via migration beginning in Turkey where farming originated and arriving in Germany around 7,500 years ago. However, there are signs of an unexplained genetic turnover about 4,000-5,000 years ago.
Scientists believe that the Bell Beaker culture, which existed about 4,500 years ago and which is believed to have been involved in the building of Stonehenge, could hold the answer. According to team member, Dr Brotherton: 'The expansion of the Bell Beaker culture (named after their pots) appears to have been a key event, emerging in Iberia around 2800 BC and arriving in Germany several centuries later.’
However, the details of how they were involved is not yet clear. As Alan Cooper stated: 'Something major happened, and the hunt is now on to find out what that was.'