Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Ancient mtDNA from Santimamiñe Cave

I see press releases and news stories on this cave from time to time, but I haven't actually located any published studies. If anyone is aware of more information, feel free to leave a comment.

Genetic research reveals that current population of Urdaibai probably descended from cave dwellers at Santimamiñe

The comparison of DNA extracted from a Homo sapiens who inhabited the Santimamine Cave (in the Basque province of Biscay) some 4,000 years ago, and from 6 other bone remains found in the same cave, with the DNA of 158 persons currently living in the surrounding Urdaibai region, has shown that current individuals have maternal lineages very similar to the archaeological remains. The findings enable putting forward the hypothesis that the current population is descended from the ancient denizens of the Santimamine Cave. 
The research received funding from the Department of Culture of the Provincial Government of Bizkaia, as well as from the Urdaibai District Authority. Once the research in Urdabai is concluded, it is hoped that, shortly, it will be extended to other regions of the Basque Country, using new studies of funerary sites from the same period and from other eras (the Copper Age, the Bronze Age, etc.) thus enabling extending the knowledge we currently have on the special characteristics of the Basque population. This populational group has sparked enormous scientific interest for its distinctive characteristics regarding the preservation of its pre-Indo-European language and its relative isolation from the influence of other peoples and cultures.

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