From Stone to Bronze in prehistoric Scandinavia

Recently, the preprint for a massive new study by Morten Allentoft and colleagues went online over at bioRxiv.org. It is a paper full of important and illuminating new data from all over Stone Age Eurasia. However, this article will mainly focus on the new data from Scandinavia. The newly sequenced ancient genomes from Scandinavia are…

Jōmon and Yayoi: the dual genetic origins of the Japanese

The island nation of Japan has a long and rich history that includes periods of relative isolation from the rest of the world. With the start of the Heian period in 794 AD, a distinct and unique Japanese culture had risen. A clan-based society with a strong literary culture and a centralized government, Japan’s early…

The genetic origins of the Polynesians

The Polynesian voyagers were undoubtedly some of the greatest sailors and navigators the world has ever seen. Using star signs, trade winds, ocean currents and even signs of animals in order to detect land, they were able to traverse massive distances in a short amount of time. This article will go through the genetic profile…

Human height in prehistoric Europe

Throughout the history and prehistory of Europe, the average height of its inhabitants has gone up and down many times. The reasons for this are many. Some of the more obvious examples being diet, climate, population movements (and thus the changing of the gene pool) as well as selection. Height is a polygenic trait. That…

Genetics of the Nordic Bronze Age

Bronze Age Scandinavia. Massive burial mounds full of wealth. Groups of armed men with bronze weapons manning boats. Status-obsessed hierarchical warriors and traders. The likeliest candidates for pre-Proto-Germanic speakers and a proto-Germanic material culture. But who were they, and where did they come from? The people of the Nordic Bronze Age were skilled metalworkers and…

Bell Beakers and the replacement of the megalith builders in Western Europe

Starting around 4800 BC, a new cultural horizon had begun to become dominant in Western Europe. Massive stones were used to construct burial sites, monuments and religious sites. Some of the most famous remnants of this ancient culture includes Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland, as well as the Almendres Cromlech in Portugal. Recent…

The origins of lactase persistence in Europe

What is lactase persistence? Lactase. It’s that amazing enzyme which allows us to chug down a gallon of milk on a daily basis without having constant diarrhea. Well, some of us, at least. Lactase persistence, meaning the persistance of the lactase intestinal enzyme among adults, has a dramatic variation depending on where you come from…