Digging for new discoveries is one of the most important aspects of archaeology. Sometimes you might not even know what you are looking for, but you might be surprised by what you find.
Doctors John and Kathy Arthur, anthropology professors at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, know this exact feeling. During a cave excavation in Mota, Ethiopia, the Arthurs and their team discovered a human skeleton. Their findings were published in the journal Science and the Tampa Bay Times.
What makes this discovery significant is that the DNA of the individual contains the first complete ancient African genome.
“In the past, the few African specimens they had before they could only reconstruct part of the genome. This is the entire thing,” Dr. Kathy Arthur said.
A genome is the complete DNA sequence of an organism. This discovery will shed some light on the early interactions of ancient Africans and Eurasians, and the ways in which they lived.
The Arthurs named the individual “Bayira” which means “first born” in the Gamo language. Geneticists from the University of Cambridge determined that the individual dated back 4,500 years. They said he was about 5-foot-tall and lived to be about 50 years old.
The Arthurs plan on continuing their research on the Gamo people. They hope to be back in Ethiopia by 2017.
“They say we want the world to know our history, we want our nation to know and we want our children to know too. We want to pass this on to our children,” Dr. Kathy said.