Research on remains provides the first indication that mixing between early humans in Indonesia and Siberia occurred earlier than previously thought.
Genetic traces in the body of a young woman who died 7,000 years ago have provided the first clue that the mixing between early humans in Indonesia and those from distant Siberia occurred much earlier than previously thought.
Theories about early human migration in Asia could be transformed by research published in August in the scientific journal Nature, after analyzing the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), or genetic fingerprint, of the woman who received a ritual burial in an Indonesian cave. , the Reuters news agency said on Wednesday.
“It’s possible that the Wallacea region may have been a meeting point of two human species, between the Denisovans and early Homo sapiens,” said Basran Burhan, an archaeologist from Australia’s Griffith University.
Burhan, one of the scientists involved in the study, referred to the region of Indonesia, including South Sulawesi, where the body, buried with rocks in his hands and on the basin, was found in the cave complexes of Leang Pannige.
The Denisovans were a group of ancient people named for a cave in Siberia where their remains were first identified in 2010. Scientists understand little about them, and even the details of their appearance are not widely known.
Besse’s DNA, as the researchers called the young woman in Indonesia and use the term for a newborn baby girl in the regional Bugis language, is one of the few well-preserved specimens found in the tropics.
It showed that although she was descended from the Austronesian people common in Southeast Asia and Oceania, she also had genetic traces of Denisovan, the scientists said.
“Genetic analyzes show that this pre-Neolithic collector … shares most of the genetic drift and morphological similarities with contemporary Papuan and Indigenous Australian groups,” they said in the paper.
The remains are currently being stored at a university in the South Sulawesi city of Makassar.
Until recently, scientists thought that North Asian people like the Denisovans didn’t arrive in Southeast Asia until about 3,500 years ago.
Besse’s DNA is changing theories about such patterns of early human migration and may also provide insight into the origins of Papuan and Indigenous Australian people who share Denisovan DNA.
“Theories about migration will change, just as theories about race will change,” said Iwan Sumantri, a lecturer at Hasanuddin University in South Sulawesi who is also involved in the project.
Besse’s remains represent the first sign of Denisovans among Austronesians, Indonesia’s oldest ethnic group, he added.
“Now try to imagine how they spread and distributed their genes to reach Indonesia,” Sumantri said.