What's on your wish list for the new year in the world of anthropology and human genetics?
Here's my #1 item:
Any ancient African DNA.
The study of prehistoric Eurasians has revealed that modern populations are not simply descended from the people who lived in the same areas even a few thousand years ago.
The people best preserving the genetic legacy of central European Neolithic farmers can be found on the island of Sardinia; of west European hunter-gatherers in the shores of the Baltic; of Upper Paleolithic Siberians in the jungles of the Amazon; of Middle Paleolithic Siberians in Papua and Australia.
And yet, the model for Africa largely remains one of continuity across two hundred thousand years, since the emergence of anatomically modern humans in eastern Africa.
There have been hints that this isn't the case; the study of modern populations has revealed evidence for both archaic African, and -more recently and surprisingly- even a little archaic Eurasian ancestry in virtually all Sub-Saharan Africans. Populations from one of the presumed cradles of H. sapiens (Eastern Africa) are now conclusively known to be recent mixtures of West Eurasians, and even the Bushmen of southern Africa, the subject of so many TV documentaries as an exemplum of the ur-Humans did not escape this admixture.
Paleoanthropology also hints that some of the people who lived in sub-Saharan Africa well into the Lower Stone Age may have been quite divergent, and so do modern human Y-chromosomes. T
So the €1,000,000 question is: who lived in Africa 5 or 10 or 50 or 100 thousand years ago?