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Tracing the peopling of the world through genomics

Abstract

Advances in the sequencing and the analysis of the genomes of both modern and ancient peoples have facilitated a number of breakthroughs in our understanding of human evolutionary history. These include the discovery of interbreeding between anatomically modern humans and extinct hominins; the development of an increasingly detailed description of the complex dispersal of modern humans out of Africa and their population expansion worldwide; and the characterization of many of the genetic adaptions of humans to local environmental conditions. Our interpretation of the evolutionary history and adaptation of humans is being transformed by analyses of these new genomic data.

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Figure 1: Timeline of important milestones in human evolutionary genomics.
Figure 2: Simplified model of human evolutionary history.
Figure 3: Major human migrations across the world inferred through analyses of genomic data.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported in part by: US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant R01GM110068 (J.M.A.); the European Research Council, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Swedish Research Council (M.J.); the Danish National Research Foundation and the Lundbeck Foundation and KU2016 initiative (E.W.); and NIH grants R01GM116044 (R.N.), 1R01DK104339-01 and 1R01GM113657-01 (S.T.). We also thank S. Moon, S. Tucci, A. Sapfo-Malaspinas, M. Raghavan and M. W. Pedersen for discussions or for help in preparing the figures.

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Reviewer Information Nature thanks D. Lambert, J. Novembre, S. Schiffels and C. Stringer for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Nielsen, R., Akey, J., Jakobsson, M. et al. Tracing the peopling of the world through genomics. Nature 541, 302–310 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature21347

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