A DNA sample of a young woman has been unearthed in the Cave of Leang Panninge on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The woman, who was found dead about 7,200 years ago, was named as Bessé. Prehistoric stone tools and red vaccine paint were also found alongside the woman, who was found to be between 17 and 18 years old at the time of the burial. Researchers said Bessé’s genetic analysis challenged previous known about migrations by early humans.
Scientists have discovered an ancient DNA sample in the remains of a woman who died in Indonesia 7,200 years ago. This is the first time the DNA of an ancient person who lived in the Wallacea region has been uncovered.
The term Wallacea is used to refer to a group of candidates who are affiliated with Indonesia and separated by deep straits from the Asian and Australian continental shelf.
However, the woman, named by scientists as Bessé, died at the age of 18. Alongside his remains were stone tools from the Neolithic period and wild animal bones.
THE EXAMPLE OF INTACT DNA IS A VERY RARE FINDING
Professor Adam Brumm of Griffith University, who led the research published in the journal Nature, said intact DNA was a rare finding.
PROVIDED NEW INFORMATION ON THE MIGRATION OF FIRST PEOPLE
Brumm said: “The moompy tropics are very cruel in protecting DNA in ancient human bones and teeth. There are only one or two pre-Neolithic skeletons with ancient DNA samples found throughout mainland Southeast Asia.
DNA analysis is completely revolutionizing our understanding of the story of the first humans. We are learning new information about the genetic diversity, population movements and demographic history of ancient people.”
The researchers described Bessé as a “genetic fossil.” Brumm said Bessé’s genetic sequence shows that he has a unique ancestral history that is not shared by anyone who lives today or any previously known person.
However, about half of Bessé’s genetic makeup is similar to today’s Indigenous Australians, people in New Guinea and the Western Pacific islands. “We think that their ancestors came from mainland Asia to the Wallacean islands, then moved towards Sahul, the land mass where Australia and New Guinea were involved in the ice age,” Brumm said.
Bessé’s DNA, on the other hand, showed an ancient connection to east Asia, challenging what was previously known about the timeline of migration to Wallacea.
MIGRATION TOOK PLACE 3 TO 4 THOUSAND YEARS BEFORE YOU KNEW
“Analysis shows that the first entry of people, whose origins are predominantly Asian, into the Wallacea region occurred about three or four thousand years earlier than previously known,” Brumm said.
FIRST SKELETON ATTACHED TO TOLEAN CULTURE
The study’s authors also said Bessé was the first known skeleton of the Toalean culture, a group of hunter-gatherers who lived in South Sulawesi between 1,500 and 8,000 years ago.