This week’s study revealed that archaeologists discovered bones from a 7,200-year old skeleton of a female hunter/gatherer in Indonesia. The bones are unique because they have a “unique human genetic lineage” that is not known anywhere else.
The remarkably preserved fossil, which belonged to a girl called Bessé and was buried in the fetal position inside Leang Panninge, a limestone cave in South Sulawesi, was discovered in the fetal position.
This structure was found with equipment that was used to hunt and harvest fruits in the Quaternary-era area.
This discovery was published in Nature. It is believed to be the first in Wallacea, an enormous network of islands and atolls that runs between Australia and mainland Asia.
Bessé is referred to by the researchers as a “genetic fossil.” According to Brumm’s genetic sequencing, Besse has a unique ancestral background that no one else knows about.
Approximately half of Bessé’s genetic composition is comparable to that of contemporary Indigenous Australians, as well as individuals from New Guinea and the Western Pacific islands.
Wallacea was where the first DNA from an ancient human being was extracted.
Unfortunately, the story was not finished. The team decided to dig deeper into the cave and collect more information. These enabled Bessé’s age to be limited to between 7,200 and 7,300 years. The researchers also examined Besse’s bones and extracted his entire DNA.
“It proved to be a difficult task because the remains had been severely deteriorated by the tropical climate,” stated Selina Carlhoff of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History as a statement. This indicates that DNA was taken from the inner ear bone.
Only a few prehistoric remains of South Asia had transmitted DNA before. As a result, Bessé’s genetic material has a dual significance.
This is the first direct genetic marker for the Toalean Society. It also represents the first known ancient human DNA to be found in Wallacea. Wallacea covers the region between Borneo, New Guinea, and Wallacea.
Amazing discoveries have been made about the origins of the Toaleans thanks to this remarkable performance. The DNA of the young woman was found to be similar to that of Australian Aborigines, current residents of New Guinea, and the western Pacific. This includes DNA that was inherited from Denisovans (Neanderthals’ distant relatives).
This support the theory that these hunter/gatherers are connected to the first humans who discovered Wallacea 65,000 years ago. Professor Adam Brumm, co-leader of Griffith University, said that they were the first inhabitants of the Sahul supercontinent which arose in the Pleistocene as the sea level dropped.
At the time, the Sahul included Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea and New Zealand, which were connected by land bridges. He stated that these pioneers crossed the Wallacea to reach Sahul. However, little is known about their journeys.
Signature of an unknown ancestor
Bessé’s DNA, on the other hand, revealed an unexpected ancestral signal, indicating a relationship with an Asian group.
Experts are aware of only one modern human migration from eastern Asia to Wallacea that occurred approximately 3,500 years after the period of the young woman.
The study discovered no link between Bessé’s ancestors and the present residents of Sulawesi, who are primarily descended from Neolithic farmers who came to the region three millennia ago.
The hunter-gatherer would thus display a human line that was not seen before and which seems to have disappeared 1,500 years ago.
“Bessé’s ancestors did not mix with those of Australian Aborigines and Papuans, suggesting that they would have arrived in the region after the first Sahul settlement – but much before Austronesian expansion,” Prof. Brumm and colleagues said in an essay published on The Conversation website.
The extinct society seems to have been isolated for many millennia and had only minimal contact with the other ancient societies of Sulawesi or nearby islands. Other results raise new questions about the origins of the Toaleans.
Scientists believe that DNA analysis among Indonesia’s island inhabitants will help to uncover evidence of hunter-gatherers’ genetic heritage. They plan to excavate further areas within the Leang Panninge Cave.
“Bessé’s finding and the consequences of his genetic origins demonstrate our limited understanding of our region’s early human history and the number of things remaining to be found there,” Prof. Brumm stated.