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Paleolithic Remains Uncovered in Japan Undergo DNA Analysis

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

HAYAMA, JAPAN—The Asahi Shimbun reports that Jun Gojobori of the Graduate University for Advanced Studies and his colleagues analyzed mitochondrial DNA from Minatogawa 1, the 20,000-year-old remains of a man unearthed on the main island of Okinawa in the 1970s. The study suggests that the Minatogawa individual was an ancestor of Japan’s Jomon (14500 B.C.–1000 B.C.) and Yayoi (1000 B.C.–A.D. 250) peoples. No direct descendants of Minatogawa 1 were found in a genetic study of 2,000 modern individuals, but the researchers noted that his DNA is a genetic type ancestral to commonly found DNA sequences. “Our study found a likely genetic continuity among the human populations of the Japanese islands all the way from the Paleolithic age down to the present day,” Gojobori said. “We hope to study the bones of more Paleolithic people to better understand the origins of the Japanese.” To read about resistance to rice taxes in Tokugawa era Japan, go to "Ancient Tax Time: Rice Farmer Rebellions."

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