Something happened thousands of years ago in human history that surprised scientists.
A fascinating new study published in the journal Science recently claims that an analysis of DNA from the world’s first farmers has led to some interesting new conclusions about early man.
The study found that these farmers had surprisingly diverse origins, and that farming spread via a mass migration of people rather than indegnous populations adopting new ideas, according to a Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz statement.
Scientists believe the mankind switched from a nomadic lifestyle of hunting and gathering to a more sedentary farming community about 10,000 years ago in southwestern Asia. This way of life quickly spread across Eurasia and marked one of the major shifts in human history.
The study found that DNA in farmers who lived in the mountains of Iran were quite different from people who spread farming west into Europe. Although they operated in the same general area called the Fertile Crescent, they separated genetically between 46,000 and 77,000 years ago.
Scientists were surprised by how different eastern and western Fertile Crescent early farmers were, as they had assumed that the first farmers were from a single homogeneous population.
“It is interesting that people who are genetically so different, who almost certainly looked different and spoke different languages adopted the agricultural lifestyle almost simultaneously in different parts of Anatolia and the Near East,” said Professor Joachim Burger, senior author of the study. “The group of prehistoric inhabitants of the Zagros region separated more than 50,000 years ago from other people of Eurasia and were among the first who invented farming.”
Marjan Mashkour, an Iranian archaeozoologist who works at the CNRS in Paris, added: “The Neolithic way of life originates in the Fertile Crescent, maybe also some Neolithic pioneers started moving from there. But the majority of ancient Iranians did not move west as some would have thought.”