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Ancient genomes from North Africa evidence prehistoric migrations to the Maghreb from both the Levant and Europe
Fernando L. Méndez,
María D. Camalich-Massieu,
María C Ávila-Arcos,
Peter A. Underhill,
Andre E. R. Soares,
Francisco J. Rodríguez-Santos,
Carlos D Bustamante
Posted 21 Sep 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/191569 (published DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1800851115)
Posted 21 Sep 2017
The extent to which prehistoric migrations of farmers influenced the genetic pool of western North Africans remains unclear. Archaeological evidence suggests the Neolithization process may have happened through the adoption of innovations by local Epipaleolithic communities, or by demic diffusion from the Eastern Mediterranean shores or Iberia. Here, we present the first analysis of individuals' genome sequences from early and late Neolithic sites in Morocco, as well as Early Neolithic individuals from southern Iberia. We show that Early Neolithic Moroccans are distinct from any other reported ancient individuals and possess an endemic element retained in present-day Maghrebi populations, confirming a long-term genetic continuity in the region. Among ancient populations, Early Neolithic Moroccans are distantly related to Levantine Natufian hunter-gatherers (~9,000 BCE) and Pre-Pottery Neolithic farmers (~6,500 BCE). Although an expansion in Early Neolithic times is also plausible, the high divergence observed in Early Neolithic Moroccans suggests a long-term isolation and an early arrival in North Africa for this population. This scenario is consistent with early Neolithic traditions in North Africa deriving from Epipaleolithic communities who adopted certain innovations from neighbouring populations. Late Neolithic (~3,000 BCE) Moroccans, in contrast, share an Iberian component, supporting theories of trans-Gibraltar gene flow. Finally, the southern Iberian Early Neolithic samples share the same genetic composition as the Cardial Mediterranean Neolithic culture that reached Iberia ~5,500 BCE. The cultural and genetic similarities of the Iberian Neolithic cultures with that of North African Neolithic sites further reinforce the model of an Iberian migration into the Maghreb.
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