3 years ago

Evaluating the Neolithic Expansion at Both Shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

Arenas, Lopes, Amorim, Pimenta, Comas
During the Neolithic, human populations underwent cultural and technological developments that led to an agricultural revolution. Although the population genetics and evolution of European Neolithic populations have been extensively studied, little is known regarding the Neolithic expansion in North Africa with respect to Europe. One could expect that the different environmental and geological conditions at both shores of the Mediterranean Sea could have led to contrasting expansions. In order to test this hypothesis, we compared the Neolithic expansion in Europe and North Africa accounting for possible migration between them through the Strait of Gibraltar. We analysed the entire X chromosome of 580 individuals from 20 populations spatially distributed along the North of Africa and Europe. Next, we applied approximate Bayesian computation based on extensive spatially explicit computer simulations to select among alternative scenarios of migration through the Strait of Gibraltar and to estimate population genetics parameters in both expansions. Our results suggest that, despite being more technologically advanced, Neolithic populations did not expand faster than Palaeolithic populations, which could be interpreted as a consequence of a more sedentary lifestyle. We detected reciprocal Neolithic migration between the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa through the Strait of Gibraltar. Counterintuitively, we found that the studied Neolithic expansions presented similar levels of carrying capacity and migration, and occurred at comparable speeds, suggesting a similar demic process of substitution of hunter-gatherer populations. Altogether, the Neolithic expansion through both Mediterranean shores was not so different, perhaps because these populations shared similar technical abilities and lifestyle patterns.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msx256

DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msx256

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