Ancient DNA collected from the bones and teeth of hunter-gatherers has shown that they took shelter from the ice age in Southwestern Europe, but were replaced on the Italian Peninsula according to two new studies, published in Nature and Nature Ecology & Evolution today.
These studies analysed the largest gathering of the genetic prehistoric record of Europe, from the remains of 357 ancient Europeans who lived around 19,000-25,000 years ago
Previous research claimed these people disappeared during the last ice age in Europe, but this research has shown that this is not the case.
The hunter-gatherers of Central and Southern Europe did disappear. However, their cousins in what is now France and Spain survived, leaving genetic traces still visible in the DNA of Western European peoples nearly 30,000 years later.
By combining results from these two studies, scientists have now described the most complete story of human history in Europe to date. This story includes migration events, human retreat from the effects of the ice age, long-lasting genetic lineages and lost populations.