Team decodes genome of Jomon-period woman

Courtesy of National Museum of Nature and Science

A facial reconstruction based on genomic data of a woman who died in the Jomon period

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A research team led by the National Museum of Nature and Science said Monday it has sequenced and analyzed with high accuracy the whole genome of a woman who lived about 3,500 to 3,800 years ago, in the second half of Japan’s Jomon period.

Hideaki Kanzawa, a researcher at the museum; Naruya Saito, a professor at the National Institute of Genetics; and other members of the group sampled DNA from molars discovered with pieces of a female skull bone at the Funadomari site on Rebun Island in Hokkaido.

The results of the genome analysis, which was almost as accurate as such analysis for modern people thanks to the well-preserved DNA, suggest that a common ancestor diverged into the Jomon people and Han Chinese about 18,000 to 38,000 years ago, the researchers said.

The analysis also found that the Jomons are genetically close to groups in East Asian coastal areas from the Russian Far East through the Korean Peninsula, including indigenous Taiwanese people, and were gathering in a relatively small population group and living by hunting.

Among other discoveries are that the Jomon woman had brown eyes and thin hair as well as high alcohol tolerance, and was genetically adapted to a high-fat diet. At the Funadomari site, many sea lion bones have been dug up.

The members also include researchers from Sapporo Medical University, Kanazawa University and the University of Yamanashi.

Details of the study will be published shortly in the Anthropological Society of Nippon’s English journal.Speech

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