Earlier this year, the study by Haak et al. showed that steppe invaders after 5kya brought into Europe a 50/50 mix of "Eastern European Hunter-Gatherer" (EHG) ancestry/An unknown population from the Near East/Caucasus. The "unknown population" was most similar to Caucasians/Near Easterners like Armenians but did not correspond to any ancient sample.
A new paper in Nature Communications by Jones et al. finds this "missing link" in the flesh in Upper Paleolithic/Mesolithic hunter-gatherers from Georgia which they call "Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers" (CHG). From the paper:
The separation between CHG and both EF and WHG ended during the Early Bronze Age when a major ancestral component linked to CHG was carried west by migrating herders from the Eurasian Steppe. The foundation group for this seismic change was the Yamnaya, who we estimate to owe half of their ancestry to CHG-linked sources.The authors also make the connection to South Asia:
In modern populations, the impact of CHG also stretches beyond Europe to the east. Central and South Asian populations received genetic influx from CHG (or a population close to them), as shown by a prominent CHG component in ADMIXTURE (Supplementary Fig. 5; Supplementary Note 9) and admixture f3-statistics, which show many samples as a mix of CHG and another South Asian population (Fig. 4b; Supplementary Table 9).Also of interest:
Both Georgian hunter-gatherer samples were assigned to haplogroup J with Kotias belonging to the subhaplogroup J2a (see methods).The paper is open access, so go ahead and read it for other details.
Nature Communications 6, Article number: 8912 doi:10.1038/ncomms9912
Upper Palaeolithic genomes reveal deep roots of modern Eurasians
Eppie R. Jones et al.
We extend the scope of European palaeogenomics by sequencing the genomes of Late Upper Palaeolithic (13,300 years old, 1.4-fold coverage) and Mesolithic (9,700 years old, 15.4-fold) males from western Georgia in the Caucasus and a Late Upper Palaeolithic (13,700 years old, 9.5-fold) male from Switzerland. While we detect Late Palaeolithic–Mesolithic genomic continuity in both regions, we find that Caucasus hunter-gatherers (CHG) belong to a distinct ancient clade that split from western hunter-gatherers ~45 kya, shortly after the expansion of anatomically modern humans into Europe and from the ancestors of Neolithic farmers ~25 kya, around the Last Glacial Maximum. CHG genomes significantly contributed to the Yamnaya steppe herders who migrated into Europe ~3,000 BC, supporting a formative Caucasus influence on this important Early Bronze age culture. CHG left their imprint on modern populations from the Caucasus and also central and south Asia possibly marking the arrival of Indo-Aryan languages.