Autosomal resequence data reveal late stone age signals of population expansion in Sub-Saharan African foraging and farming populations

Murray P. Cox, David A. Morales, August E. Woerner, Jesse Sozanski, Jeffrey D. Wall, Michael F Hammer

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Abstract

Background: A major unanswered question in the evolution of Homo sapiens is when anatomically modern human populations began to expand: was demographic growth associated with the invention of particular technologies or behavioral innovations by hunter-gatherers in the Late Pleistocene, or with the acquisition of farming in the Neolithic? Methodology/Principal Findings: We investigate the timing of human population expansion by performing a multilocus analysis of ≥20 unlinked autosomal noncoding regions, each consisting of ∼6 kilobases, resequenced in ∼184 individuals from 7 human populations. We test the hypothesis that the autosomal polymorphism data fit a simple two-phase growth model, and when the hypothesis is not rejected, we fit parameters of this model to our data using approximate Bayesian computation. Conclusions/Significance: The data from the three surveyed non-African populations (French Basque, Chinese Han, and Melanesians) are inconsistent with the simple growth model, presumably because they reflect more complex demographic histories. In contrast, data from all four sub-Saharan African populations fit the two-phase growth model, and a range of onset times and growth rates is inferred for each population. Interestingly, both hunter-gatherers (San and Biaka) and food-producers (Mandenka and Yorubans) best fit models with population growth beginning in the Late Pleistocene. Moreover, our hunter-gatherer populations show a tendency towards slightly older and stronger growth (∼41 thousand years ago, ∼13-fold) than our food-producing populations (∼31 thousand years ago, ∼7-fold). These dates are concurrent with the appearance of the Late Stone Age in Africa, supporting the hypothesis that population growth played a significant role in the evolution of Late Pleistocene human cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere6366
JournalPLoS One
Volume4
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 29 2009

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Agriculture
farming systems
foraging
human population
growth models
Population
Growth
population growth
demographic statistics
Population Growth
polymorphism
Demography
food industry
Food
Patents and inventions
Polymorphism
history
Innovation
hunters
Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Autosomal resequence data reveal late stone age signals of population expansion in Sub-Saharan African foraging and farming populations. / Cox, Murray P.; Morales, David A.; Woerner, August E.; Sozanski, Jesse; Wall, Jeffrey D.; Hammer, Michael F.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 4, No. 7, e6366, 29.07.2009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cox, Murray P. ; Morales, David A. ; Woerner, August E. ; Sozanski, Jesse ; Wall, Jeffrey D. ; Hammer, Michael F. / Autosomal resequence data reveal late stone age signals of population expansion in Sub-Saharan African foraging and farming populations. In: PLoS One. 2009 ; Vol. 4, No. 7.
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