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Ancient DNA links an East Asian Homo sapiens woman to early Americans

A previously undetected Homo sapiens population inhabited what’s now southwestern China around 14,000 years ago and contributed to the ancestry of ancient Americans.

This far-ranging Asian group’s evolutionary identity has been revealed thanks to ancient DNA extracted from a skullcap previously excavated at Mengzi Ren, or MZR, a site in southwestern China’s Red Deer Cave, researchers report July 14 in Current Biology.

The finding offers a rare opportunity to narrow down where the ancestors of ancient Americans came from in East Asia’s vast expanse.

Geneticist Bing Su of China’s Kunming Institute of Zoology and colleagues recovered nearly all the fossil individual’s mitochondrial DNA, typically inherited from the mother, and roughly 3.3 percent of the nuclear DNA, which is inherited from both parents.

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