(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the Institute of Archeology at University College London, the Natural History Museum and the Francis Crick Institute (UK) have isolated the oldest DNA from what has been obtained in the British Isles so far.
Two separate groups of people migrated to Britain after the end of the last ice age, according to a study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Experts analyzed the genetic material that belonged to an ancient man from Gough Cave in Somerset and a man from Kendrick Cave in North Wales.
Radiocarbon dating showed that the first lived about 15,000 years ago and descended from people who arrived in northwestern Europe with the first wave of migration about 16,000 years ago.
The DNA of the second person is dated to a later period, about 13.5 thousand years ago. His ancestors belonged to a western group of hunter-gatherers who originally arrived from the Near East some 14,000 years ago.
Both migrations began after the last ice age, when about two-thirds of the British Isles were covered by glaciers.
As the climate warmed and glaciers melted, radical environmental changes took place and people began to move to northern Europe, where conditions became more favorable for life. The area of forests and the number of animal species that could be hunted increased in the region.
The results of the analysis of the chemical composition of the bones showed that the people from Kendrick’s Cave ate a large amount of marine and freshwater food, including large marine mammals. However, the inhabitants of Gough Cave preyed on terrestrial herbivores such as deer, aurochs, and horses.
Both groups also had different burial traditions. Archaeologists have discovered animal bones in Kendrick’s Cave that were used for jewelry, indicating that the site was used for burial of deceased tribesmen.
In Gof’s Cave, researchers found skull bowls, which indicates the practice of ritual cannibalism.
The people from this older settlement appear to have belonged to the Madeleine culture, which is well known for cave art and bone and shell artifacts.
In 1903, the remains of the famous Cheddar Man dated from 10.5 to 9.9 thousand years BC were discovered in the Gough cave.
The researchers found that he had mixed ancestors, mostly (85 percent) Western hunter-gatherers and partly (15 percent) first-wave settlers.
Contact us: [email protected]