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  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Skulls of early humans carry signs of inbreeding

    Buried for 100,000 years at Xujiayao in the Nihewan Basin of northern China, the recovered skull pieces of an early human exhibit a now-rare congenital deformation that indicates inbreeding might well have been common among our ancestors, new research from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Washington University in St. Louis suggests.     The skull, known as Xujiayao 11, has an unusual perforation through the top of the brain case - an enlarged parietal foramen (EPF) or 'hole in the skull' - that is consistent with modern humans diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation in the homeobox genes ALX4 on chromosome 11 and MSX2 on chromosome 5. These specific genetic mutations interfere with bone formation and prevent the closure of small holes in the back of the prenatal braincase, a process that is normally completed within the first five months of fetal development. It occurs in about one out of every 25,000 modern human births.... 

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    10% of Scots descended from Picts

    A RECENTLY discovered DNA marker suggests that 10 per cent of Scottish men are directly descended from the Picts, it is revealed today.Mystery has long surrounded the fate of the tribe of fierce enigmatic people who battled with Rome’s legions before seeming to disappear from history.Now new research from ScotlandsDNA, an ancestry testing company, has found a marker strongly suggesting for the first time that a large number of descendants of these northern tribes, known as “Picti” by the Romans meaning “Painted Ones”, are living in Scotland....