Abstract: The temporal bone discovered in the 1960s from the Darra-i-Kur cave in Afghanistan is often cited as one of the very few Pleistocene human fossils from Central Asia. Here we report the first direct radiocarbon date for the specimen and the genetic analyses of DNA extracted and sequenced from two areas of the bone. The new radiocarbon determination places the find to ∼4500 cal BP (∼2500 BCE) contradicting an assumed Palaeolithic age of ∼30,000 years, as originally suggested. The DNA retrieved from the specimen originates from a male individual who carried mitochondrial DNA of the modern human type. The petrous part yielded more endogenous ancient DNA molecules than the squamous part of the same bone. Molecular dating of the Darra-i-Kur mitochondrial DNA sequence corroborates the radiocarbon date and suggests that the specimen is younger than previously thought. Taken together, the results consolidate the fact that the human bone is not associated with the Pleistocene-age deposits of Darra-i-Kur; instead it is intrusive, possibly re-deposited from upper levels dating to much later periods (Neolithic). Despite its Holocene age, the Darra-i-Kur specimen is, so far, the first and only ancient human from Afghanistan whose DNA has been sequenced.Douka et al., Direct radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis of the Darra-i-Kur (Afghanistan) human temporal bone, Journal of Human Evolution, Volume 107, June 2017, Pages 86–93, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.03.003
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Darra-i-Kur specimen about 25,000 years younger than previously thought
Very disappointing, because of the dearth of pre-Neolithic samples from Central Asia, but interesting nonetheless. The sample belongs to mtDNA haplogroup H2a, which has also been found in remains from the Eneolithic and Bronze Age Pontic-Caspian Steppe (see here). So there's a chance that it harbors Khvalynsk-like or Yamnaya-like ancestry from ancient Eastern Europe. Hopefully the genome-wide data is coming soon.