AbstractThe oldest extant human maternal lineages include mitochondrial haplogroups L0d and L0k found in the southern African click-speaking forager peoples broadly classified as Khoesan. Profiling these early mitochondrial lineages allows for better understanding of modern human evolution. In this study, we profile 77 new early-diverged complete mitochondrial genomes and sub-classify another 105 L0d/L0k individuals from southern Africa. We use this data to refine basal phylogenetic divergence, coalescence times and Khoesan prehistory.
Our results confirm L0d as the earliest diverged lineage (~172 kya, 95%CI: 149–199 kya), followed by L0k (~159 kya, 95%CI: 136–183 kya) and a new lineage we name L0g (~94 kya, 95%CI: 72–116 kya). We identify two new L0d1 subclades we name L0d1d and L0d1c4/L0d1e, and estimate L0d2 and L0d1 divergence at ~93 kya (95%CI:76–112 kya). We concur the earliest emerging L0d1’2 sublineage L0d1b (~49 kya, 95%CI:37–58 kya) is widely distributed across southern Africa. Concomitantly, we find the most recent sublineage L0d2a (~17 kya, 95%CI:10–27 kya) to be equally common. While we agree that lineages L0d1c and L0k1a are restricted to contemporary inland Khoesan populations, our observed predominance of L0d2a and L0d1a in non-Khoesan populations suggests a once independent coastal Khoesan prehistory. The distribution of early-diverged human maternal lineages within contemporary southern Africans suggests a rich history of human existence prior to any archaeological evidence of migration into the region. For the first time, we provide a genetic-based evidence for significant modern human evolution in southern Africa at the time of the Last Glacial Maximum at between ~21–17 kya, coinciding with the emergence of major lineages L0d1a, L0d2b, L0d2d and L0d2a.
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