Five hundred years ago, they lived on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

The research of Chinese scientists shows for the first time that about 5000 years ago, wild large mammals, which are now distributed only in the tropics, lived in the northeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and were important hunting resources for the ancestors of Majia kiln culture. The history of the spread of prehistoric human beings to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the way they use animal and plant resources, has always been a hot topic in the international academic circles.

Five hundred years ago, they lived on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

A recovery map of scenes of majia kilns hunting Indian bison and Sumatran rhinos. Dong Guanghui design, Zhang Haiyan painting

Reporters from the Kunming Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was informed that the institute’s Yubing Laboratory and a number of domestic research institutions in ancient DNA genetics, archaeology, paleoclimatology and geography and other multidisciplinary cross-cooperation, found that before the late Paleozoic period, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau had large tropical mammals.

Fossils of a large number of tropical plants, such as palms, have been found in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the vibrations generated by this new discovery are self-evident. The research results, entitled “The Ancient Genome Shows that the presence of tropical cattle in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau before the late New Stone Age was one of the reasons for the prevalence of hunting activities”, were published on October 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international academic journal, and were selected as the current issue of the guide article.

Fragmentation of animal remains is difficult to identify its exact species attribution

The site of Shanna Shuza is located on a first-level platform on the west bank of the Weihe River, 10 kilometers north of the county town of Luxian County, Gansu Province, in the northeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Here, comparative genomics experts have discovered a large number of wildlife remains.

“Unlike the mid- and lower-stream animal remains of the Yellow River in the same period, which were dominated by family animals, the animal remains in the northeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau were dominated by wild animals, indicating that hunting continued to dominate the use of animal resources in the region until about 4,000 years ago. But we don’t know exactly why. Speaking of the background of the study, Zhang Xiaoming, an associate researcher at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, said that large cattle and rhinos account for a large proportion of these wildlife remains.

However, since animal remains found in this area are often very fragmented, it is difficult to morphologically identify accurate species attribution and its population historical dynamics and ecological adaptation patterns.

Previous studies have shown that the agricultural population has spread from the Loess Plateau to the northeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau since 5200 years ago, and settled in the valley below 2,500 meters above sea level in the late New Stone Age.

Based on the common method of carbon 14 isotope 14, the scientists found that the Shanna Shuza site is 5270 to 5035 years old, and that the cultural type belongs to the early culture of Majia kiln between 5300 and 4000 years ago. “The wildlife remains of this site account for about 78 per cent of all animal remains, and the remains of the millet crop account for more than 80 per cent of the plant’s remains, indicating that the cultivation and hunting of the plant is the main way for the site’s pioneers to obtain food resources.” Zhang Xiaoming said.

In addition to animals such as antelopes, bears, tigers, wild boars and hares, the remains of wild animals unearthed here are, amazingly, tropical and subtropical animals such as water deer, golden monkeys and bamboo rats, as well as large orgass and rhinoceros that cannot be identified.

The pleasant to harsh climate has led to a significant decline in wildlife diversity

Zhang Xiaoming, in collaboration with Professor Dong Guanghui of Lanzhou University’s Environmental Archaeology Team and Professor Chen Hairhu, and Professor Lei Shuchao of the School of Animal Science and Technology of Northwest agricultural and for forest science and technology, conducted an ancient DNA study on 10 large cattle and 2 rhinoceros bone specimens from the Shanna Shuza site.

“Through paleoDNA research, we have sequencing data for the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes.” Professor Lei said they integrated big data on live cattle and rhino populations and conducted a systematic analysis.

The results showed that the remains of 10 large cattle at the Shanna Treeza site belonged to Indian bison that now live only in the tropical rainforests of South and South-East Asia, while the remains of two rhinos belong to the endangered animal Sumatran rhinoceros, which is only about 100 in the wild today and is only distributed in Sumatra and Borneo, Indonesia, and is the only binotro and smallest rhinoceros in Asia.

Historical analysis of population dynamic changes shows that the size of this ancient Indian bison population began to decline about 20,000 years ago, in line with the last ice age, and declined sharply about 5,000 years ago and continued for a longer period of time, in line with qinghai lake records of 5,000 to 3,600 years ago significant climate shocks.

“Genetic flow analysis between species shows that this ancient Indian bison population did not have genetic communication with yaks and Tibetan yellow cattle, so we speculate that there may have been an ecological isolation in time and space between ancient Indian cattle and the longer, meaning that they were not at the same time.” Zhang Xiaoming said this is also the first time that about 5000 years ago, today only distributed in the tropics of large wild mammals, once lived in the northeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and majia kiln culture ancestors important hunting resources.

By systematically comparing paleocma and animal archaeological data, the team also suggested that about 5,200 years ago, high summer temperatures and warm, humid and pleasant climates may have contributed to the distribution of tropical animals such as Indian bison and Sumatran rhinos at higher latitudes, enriching the region’s wildlife diversity, providing abundant hunting resources for the people of the time, making the late Neolithic Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the northeast, one of the last hunting areas in East Asia.

After about 5000 to 4000 years ago, cold, dry weather hit, the climate deteriorated, human activities increased, under the influence of multiple factors, the north-eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau wildlife diversity decreased significantly, pastoral activities replaced hunting activities as the region’s first people to obtain meat resources the main way.

“This study, the result of the first genome-wide sequencing analysis of paleo-DNA of large animals in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau region, is an example of multidisciplinary cross-cutting and is of great academic value to our understanding of the interoperability between the geography of wildlife in the Middle and Late 1990s, climate change and human activities.” Dong Guanghui said.

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Ancient DNA refers to fragments of DNA that remain in the remains or remains of ancient organisms, including ancient humans, plants and animals, and microbial DNA. Paleontological DNA is the core of molecular archaeology, which uses modern molecular biology to extract and analyze ancient DNA molecules preserved in the remains of ancient humans and plants and animals to solve archaeological problems.

By comparing the genetic differences and connections between paleontology and modern organisms, paleontological dna research has played a unique role in the study of genealogical relations between ancient and modern organisms, the protection of endangered species, the origin and evolution of human beings, the simulation of human migration routes, the kinship relationship between burial individuals, the study of burial group relations (families), the identification of the sex of human remains, paleopathology and diet research, the home and domestication process of plants and animals, the origin and early development of agriculture.

At present, ancient DNA research mainly uses archaeological specimens, generally choose to preserve complete, no cracks in the teeth and limb bones, pay attention to prevent pollution. During the laboratory work phase, we go through the steps of sample evaluation, processing, DNA extraction, PCR amplification, sequencing of PCR products, data authenticity testing, and data processing analysis.

At present, the research examples of ancient DNA mainly involve the study of ancient human bones and animal bones. Such as through the study of Inner Mongolia Shangdu Dong dajing cemetery East Han period, the right-center flag qiqi Qilangshan cemetery Wei Jin period of the remains of the human bones samples, it is concluded that there is a very close kinship between Tuo Tsui and Hunnu, as well as Tuo Tsui is modern tin The conclusion of the direct ancestors of the Bo people; the results of the study of ancient sheep unearthed at the site of the second Litou of the Yishi Shi show that the ancient sheep of the second litou share a common matrithal ancestor with the local varieties unique to China, and that wild pan sheep and raw sheep are not matrist ancestors of the Tibetan and Mongolian matrists of Mianyang.