Ancient Hunter Gatherers Created Networks to Minimize Inbreeding

Dallas Innovates

Originally Posted: October 26, 2017

At least 34,000 years ago, human hunter-gatherer groups minimized inbreeding by developing sophisticated social and mating networks.

David Meltzer

That’s according to a new study conducted by an international team of academics that included Southern Methodist University archaeologist David Meltzer. The team was led by the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Meltzer’s expertise includes the First People in the Americas, according to SMU. He is Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in SMU’s Department of Anthropology in Dedman College.

The study sequenced the genomes of individuals found at an ancient burial site in Russia.

The team discovered that individuals were, at most, first cousins, which showed that they had developed sexual partnerships beyond their immediate social and family group, SMU said.

Ancient genomics shed light on aspects of social life among early humans, and the results pave the way for further studies to explore variation in social and demographic strategies in prehistoric societies, according to SMU.

“This study takes us a step further toward pinpointing when and why the things that make humans unique evolved,”  Robert Foley, a professor at the University of Cambridge, said.

You can find out more about ancient humans and the study here.

By | 2017-10-30T08:33:57+00:00 October 27th, 2017|Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Faculty News|Comments Off on Ancient Hunter Gatherers Created Networks to Minimize Inbreeding