Discovery of 7,000-Year-Old Remains Unravels Mystery of Unknown Group of Humans

Discovery of 7,000-Year-Old Remains Unravels Mystery of Unknown Group of Humans

The ancient remains of a ʜᴜɴᴛᴇʀ-gatherer girl who ᴅɪᴇᴅ over 7,000 years ago in Indonesia, has revealed clues to a mysterious group of humans from the past. The discovery, made in 2015, in the Leang Panninge cave on Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island is the first discovery of ancient human DNA in the region, known as Wallacea.

discovery-of-7000-year-old-remains-unravels-mystery-of-unknown-group-of-humans

In a study published on Wednesday, Griffith University archaeology professor and study co-author Adam Brumm, said the girl, nicknamed Bessé,’ belonged to a mysterious group of modern humans from the Holocene era who archaeologists have named the Toaleans. It is the first time an intact sᴋᴇʟᴇᴛᴏɴ of the Toalean people had been found.

discovery-of-7000-year-old-remains-unravels-mystery-of-unknown-group-of-humans

Sulawesi is the largest island in Wallacea. White shaded areas represent landmasses exposed during periods of lower sea level in the Late Pleistocene. (Supplied, Kim Newman) Burial of the hunter-gatherer Toalean woman. (Supplied, University of Hasanuddin)

Through DNA analysis, archaeologists have confirmed a theory that the Toaleans were related to the first humans who lived in Wallacea around 65,000 years ago, and could also tie the girl to the Aboriginal Australians and Papuans. Half of Bessé’s genome is shared with present-day Aboriginals, Papuans, and Western Pacific Islander peoples.

discovery-of-7000-year-old-remains-unravels-mystery-of-unknown-group-of-humans

She was also partly related to the older human ancestors the Denisovans, whose remains have been found in Tibet and Siberia. Further analysis found that Bessé’ also had strong genetic ties to an ancient Asian group of people who did not mingle with the ancestors of Aboriginals and Papuans.

Prof Akin Duli from the University of Hasanuddin said this meant the population and genetic history of early humans in the region were more complex than previously thought.

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