Reconstructing Prehistoric African Population Structure

Pontus Skoglund, Jessica Thompson, Mary Prendergast, Alissa Mittnik, Kendra Sirak, Mateja Hajdinjak, Mark Horton, David Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


We assembled genome-wide data from 16 prehis- toric Africans. We show that the anciently divergent lineage that comprises the primary ancestry of the southern African San had a wider distribution in the past, contributing approximately two-thirds of the ancestry of Malawi hunter-gatherers $8,100– 2,500 years ago and approximately one-third of the ancestry of Tanzanian hunter-gatherers $1,400 years ago. We document how the spread of farmers from western Africa involved complete replacement of local hunter-gatherers in some regions, and we track the spread of herders by showing that the population of a $3,100-year-old pastoralist from Tanzania contributed ancestry to people from north- eastern to southern Africa, including a $1,200-year- old southern African pastoralist. The deepest diversi- fications of African lineages were complex, involving either repeated gene flow among geographically disparate groups or a lineage more deeply diverging than that of the San contributing more to some west- ern African populations than to others. We finally leverage ancient genomes to document episodes of natural selection in southern African populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-71
Early online date21 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2017

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Reconstructing Prehistoric African Population Structure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this