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Africa’s Khoe-San were first to split from other humans

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Southern Africa’s bushmen, and their relatives the Khoe, veered off on their own path of genetic development 100,000 years ago, according to a new study this week.

The split, gleaned from an analysis of genetic data, is the earliest divergence scientists have discovered in the evolution of modern humans.

The Khoe and the San peoples — who speak click languages, and live across a wide swath of southern Africa from Namibia to Mozambique to South Africa — have long fascinated scientists.

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The San, in particular, were one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer societies, living well into the 20th century in a style anthropologists think was similar to humans’ most ancient ancestors.

The study published in the journal Science on Thursday analyzes the genes of 220 members of the Khoe and San groups. Researchers looked at 2.3 million genetic variations for each participant, an unprecedented number, learning important information about the Khoe-San and, more generally, the origins of modern humans.

The analysis made it clear that there is not a “coherent picture” of where the cradle of modern man was located.

Archeological data would point to East Africa, while other studies suggest it was in southern Africa.

But according to their analysis, “different parts of Africa show up as potentially being the origin of anatomically modern humans,” said Mattias Jakobsson, of Sweden’s Uppsala University.

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Based on the genetic variations they saw in their subjects, “different groups of humans contributed genes to this pool that then later on became anatomically modern humans,” he said in a telephone press conference.

The study also gave new evidence for how and when the practice of raising livestock, known as pastoralism, started spreading to southern Africa.

The Nama, a Khoe group in Namibia who lived as herders, was genetically very similar to their cousins among the southern San, who traditionally lived as hunter-gatherers.

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However, “a small but very distinct” component of Nama genes are similar to a group of East Africans, also traditionally herders, who likely were the incomers that introduced the Khoe to pastoralism, explained co-author Carina Schlebusch in a statement.

The study also showed evidence of local adaptation among the different Khoe and San groups.

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Researchers discovered indications that natural selection among the ancient populations led to gene variations involved in muscular function, immune response and skin protection against ultraviolet rays.

“Although all humans today carry similar variants in these genes, the early divergence between Khoe-San and other human groups allowed us to zoom-in on genes that have been fast-evolving in the ancestors of all of us living on the planet today,” said Pontus Skoglund, another co-author.

[image via Agence France-Presse]

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Trump supporters lose their minds when church shows Nativity scene in immigrant cages

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MAGA supporters are losing their minds after a photo of the Nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church was posted to Facebook.

The scene depicts Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus separated and put in their own cages, a reference to the families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Inside the church, the family is shown as reunited.

Senior minister Karen Clark Ristine shared the image on Facebook with the message hoping that everyone in the United States could see the photo and read the story for Christmas.

"The theological statement posted with the nativity: In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world," she wrote. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death."

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Columnist nails Republicans for only caring about Hunter Biden now that his father is running for president

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One of the critical questions that must be answered by Republicans, according to one Washington Post columnist, is why they didn't care about Hunter Biden's position at Burisma for so many years.

In a Sunday piece, James Downie asked why Republicans didn't do anything about Hunter Biden five years ago when it was first revealed that vice president's son was on the board of a Ukraine energy company. The House and the Senate were being run by Republicans until this year. They haven't had problems with other partisan investigations against high-profile leaders. There were ten investigations into the Benghazi attacks, three hearings, 29 witnesses, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified for 11 hours. Yet, it was only after Joe Biden announced he was running against President Donald Trump that Republicans discovered an issue.

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Republican staffer caught spying on Democrats during Judiciary Committee meetings

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A Republican staffer from the Ways and Means committee was caught spying on Democrats during their work over the weekend.

According to a Judiciary Committee source, the female staffer was ultimately discovered and ran out of the committee room once it was discovered she was there, tweeted Olivia Beavers, a writer at "The Hill."

"A Judiciary source says the committee, which has been practicing for their Monday impeachment hearing this whole weekend, came across a female GOP Ways and Means staffer in the hearing room today, but that she ran out once discovered," she tweeted.

https://twitter.com/Olivia_Beavers/status/1203784487559213056

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