Lions' mitochondrial eve lived 125,000 years ago


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An analysis of the mitochondrial DNA of living lions and museum specimens conducted by Ross Barnett of Durham University and his colleagues reveal that the most recent common maternal ancestor of modern lions lived around 124,000 years ago.

The study tested the DNA of extinct Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) from North Africa, Iranian lion (P. l. persica), as well as lions from West and Central Africa. Retracing the genetic genealogy of Panthera leo helped the team figure out how the different subspecies of lion evolved.

The evidence collected supports claims by earlier studies that modern lions first appeared in eastern and southern Africa. From there they expanded to North Africa. One branch migrated to West Africa, then to Central Africa when the Sahara region turned to savannah, first over 50,000 years ago, then again during the so-called Neolithic Subpluvial c. 11,000-5,000 years ago [Ed. Note: perhaps attracted by the herds of cattle brought by Neolithic humans].

The researchers found evidence for two separate incursions into Asia from North Africa, first into India some 21,000 years ago, and later into the Middle East as recently as 5,000 years ago, just as the first states and civilisations began to appear in Egypt and in the Fertile Crescent.

Here is a map of the modern distribution of lions (courtesy from Wikipedia)


It pretty much parallels Homo Sapiens Sapiens timing and migration as new species (both hunters). They didn't mention here but it must have mixed with already existing species of lions in Africa and Eurasia, same as HS did. With exploding HS population of Eurasians in las few thousand years it got eradicated as was in conflict with human food supply and safety.

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