Insights into Modern Human Prehistory Using Ancient Genomes

Trends Genet. 2018 Mar;34(3):184-196. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2017.11.008. Epub 2018 Jan 25.


The genetic relationship of past modern humans to today's populations and each other was largely unknown until recently, when advances in ancient DNA sequencing allowed for unprecedented analysis of the genomes of these early people. These ancient genomes reveal new insights into human prehistory not always observed studying present-day populations, including greater details on the genetic diversity, population structure, and gene flow that characterized past human populations, particularly in early Eurasia, as well as increased insight on the relationship between archaic and modern humans. Here, we review genetic studies on ∼45000- to 7500-year-old individuals associated with mainly preagricultural cultures found in Eurasia, the Americas, and Africa.

Keywords: Upper Paleolithic; ancient DNA; archaic admixture; early Neolith; genetic prehistory; modern human.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Ancient / analysis*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Fossils
  • Gene Flow
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Hominidae / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Ancient