Stone Age Scandinavians unable to digest milk

The hunter-gatherers who inhabited the southern coast of Scandinavia 4,000 years ago were lactose intolerant. This has been shown by a new study carried out by researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University. The study, which has been published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, supports the researchers' earlier conclusion that today's Scandinavians are not descended from the Stone Age people in question but from a group that arrived later.

"This group of hunter-gatherers differed significantly from modern Swedes in terms of the DNA sequence that we generally associate with a capacity to digest lactose into adulthood," says Anna Linderholm, formerly of the Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University, presently at University College Cork, Ireland.

According to the researchers, two possible explanations exist for the DNA differences.

"One possibility is that these differences are evidence of a powerful selection process, through which the Stone Age hunter-gatherers' genes were lost due to some significant advantage associated with the capacity to digest milk," says Anna Linderholm. "The other possibility is that we simply are not descended from this group of people."

The capacity to consume unprocessed milk into adulthood is regarded as having been of great significance for human prehistory.

"This capacity is closely associated with the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies," says Anders Götherström of the Department of Evolutionary Biology at Uppsala University.

He serves as coordinator of LeCHE (Lactase persistence and the early Cultural History of Europe), an EU-funded research project focusing on the significance of for European prehistory.

"In the present case, we are inclined to believe that the findings are indicative of what we call "," in other words, migration to the region at some later time of some new group of people, with whom we are genetically similar," he says. "This accords with the results of previous studies."

The researchers' current work involves investigating the genetic makeup of the earliest agriculturalists in Scandinavia, with an eye to potential answers to questions about our ancestors.

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Scandinavians are descended from Stone Age immigrants

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Citation: Stone Age Scandinavians unable to digest milk (2010, April 1) retrieved 22 September 2019 from
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Apr 10, 2010
What does this article have to do with so-called evolution of 1 cell to man? If genes were lost, that is not an improvement, is it? When were genes gained? Somewhere along your 1 cell to man theory there has to be additions, not subtractions. How does, "potential answers", "inclined to believe", "regarded", "This accords with the results of previous studies", meaning, other evolutionists believe it, so it must be true. How is any of this nonscience science?

Apr 10, 2010
breadhead, you're still a clueless moron. Take another break from the site, but this time don't come back.

Apr 11, 2010
@breadhead - This article is written for people who have a basic understanding of genetics. I'm not going to call you a moron, but I will point out that if you don't understand this, then you need to get a basic education before you engage people in debate or make a comment that illustrates just how uninformed that you are.
The processed involved is not a change in the total number of genes, but one of replacement of older genetic material, by newer genetic material, thus the old material is "lost", but the total number of genes remain the same.
One would think that any adult that achieves a sophomore level of education would understand this.

Apr 21, 2010
I should consider it an honor that you almost called me a moron, huh? I consider myself quite informed on subjects related to evolution and creation. But of coarse you didn't respond to any of my points, you just try to disqualify me.

Apr 21, 2010
What about "Stone Age hunter-gatherers' genes were lost", mentions replacement? The word "replace" is not in the article that I could find.

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