Researchers from Uppsala and Stockholm Universities say that the hunter-gatherers who inhabited the southern coast of Scandinavia 4,000 years ago were lactose intolerant.
The conclusion suggests that today's Scandinavians are not descended from the Stone Age people in question but from a group that arrived later. Results of the research have been published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.
"This group of hunter-gatherers differed significantly from modern Swedes in terms of the DNA sequence that we generally associate with a capacity to digest lactose into adulthood," says Anna Linderholm, formerly of the Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University.
According to the researchers, two possible explanations exist for the DNA differences.
"One possibility is that these differences are evidence of a powerful selection process, through which the Stone Age hunter-gatherers' genes were lost due to some significant advantage associated with the capacity to digest milk," says Linderholm. "The other possibility is that we simply are not descended from this group of Stone Age people."
The capacity to consume unprocessed milk into adulthood is regarded as having been of great significance for human prehistory.
"This capacity is closely associated with the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies," says Anders Götherström of the Department of Evolutionary Biology at Uppsala University.
"In the present case, we are inclined to believe that the findings are indicative of what we call "gene flow," in other words, migration to the region at some later time of some new group of people, with whom we are genetically similar," he says. "This accords with the results of previous studies."
Citation: Malmstrom et al., 'High frequency of lactose intolerance in a prehistoric hunter-gatherer population in northern Europe', BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2010, 10(1), 89; doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-10-89
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Doomsday Dashboard Makes Tracking The Apocalypse Convenient
- Intellectually Gifted Kids And Learning Disabilities Often Go Hand In Hand
- Confirmation Bias: Why The Moon Gets Blamed For A Lot
- High-Intensity Exercise Is Best Before That High Fat Meal
- Men Who Eat Produce That Usually Has Higher Pesticide Residues May Have Lower Semen Quality
- Another One Bites The Dust - WW Cross Section Gets Back Where It Belongs
- Urine Is Not Really Sterile
- "Could we have a new poster child for junk science? Ladies and gentlemen, we have a correlation..."
- "The hull design is nearly the same today as it was back then because aerodynamics haven't changed..."
- "I think if anything Soyuz would be more sensitive. It is a late 60's design with minor updates..."
- "Agreed, mesons are bosons and hadrons...."
- "I applaud Science 2.0 for bringing this study to light for the public. I perform nerve decompression..."
- Counter-intuitive: Generous welfare benefits make people more likely to want to work, not less
- BHPI: New drug stalls estrogen receptor-positive cancer cell growth and shrinks tumors
- The bacterial genetic pathway reason you may stink
- Eating fruits and vegetables with high pesticide residues linked to poor semen quality
- Temperature-sensitive engineering from nature: From tobacco to cyberwood