Ancient DNA makes it possible to observe natural selection directly by analyzing samples from populations before, during, and after adaptation events. In the attached paper, authors report a genome-wide scan for selection using ancient DNA, capitalizing on the largest ancient DNA data set yet assembled––230 West Eurasians who lived between 6,500 and 300 BC, including 163 with newly reported data. The new samples apparently include the first genome-wide ancient DNA from Anatolian Neolithic farmers, whose genetic material were obtained by extracting from petrous bones, and who are shown to be members of the population that was the source of Europe’s first farmers.
Authors also report a transect of the steppe region in Samara between 5,600 and 300 BC, which allows them to identify admixture into the steppe from at least two external sources. Authors detected selection at loci associated with diet, pigmentation, and immunity––and two independent episodes of selection on height. Nature 31 Dec 2o15; 528: 499–503 Nature_230_Ancient_Eurasians_2o15