Derived immune and ancestral pigmentation alleles in a 7,000-year-old Mesolithic European


Ancient genomic sequences have started to reveal the origin and the demographic impact of farmers from the Neolithic period spreading into Europe1, 2, 3. The adoption of farming, stock breeding and sedentary societies during the Neolithic may have resulted in adaptive changes in genes associated with immunity and diet4. However, the limited data available from earlier hunter-gatherers preclude an understanding of the selective processes associated with this crucial transition to agriculture in recent human evolution. Here we sequence an approximately 7,000-year-old Mesolithic skeleton discovered at the La Braña-Arintero site in León, Spain, to retrieve a complete pre-agricultural European human genome. Analysis of this genome in the context of other ancient samples suggests the existence of a common ancient genomic signature across western and central Eurasia from the Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic. The La Braña individual carries ancestral alleles in several skin pigmentation genes, suggesting that the light skin of modern Europeans was not yet ubiquitous in Mesolithic times. Moreover, we provide evidence that a significant number of derived, putatively adaptive variants associated with pathogen resistance in modern Europeans were already present in this hunter-gatherer.


Source: Nature


WATCH: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Zone series produced by National Geographic

Aziz Abu Sarah

Just over a year ago I started filming for a web series produced by National Geographic. My goal was to highlight the conflicting narratives and the different points of view while inspiring hope. As Obama is visiting the region, I no longer believe that he or other leaders will bring an end to this conflict. It must be people who lead the leaders. However, I have found that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are indifferent and ineffective. Indifference is the greatest enemy to peace and justice. In this series, I try to understand why this conflict is still going on. I try to examine the narratives and perspectives. But most importantly I also explore the effect of interactions between the sides.

This special online 4-part video series, Conflict Zone, follows Aziz Abu Sarah, a cultural educator, a native of Jerusalem, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer who works in…

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Conflict Zone – Syria

Aziz Abu Sarah


Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in March of 2011, children have been among those most greatly affected by the violence. According to the latest UNHCR report, over 115,000 Syrians have been killed, 5 million are internally displaced, 2 million have fled to neighboring Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq, and 6 million are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. Over four million Syrian children are affected by the violence. Only 100,000 children have continued their schooling despite efforts within the refugee camps and only one fifth of them have received counseling.

Last year, With the help of generous donations, we at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict resolution held the pilot summer workshop for Syrian refugee children in August 2013, reaching over 400 children. The goal now is to grow these efforts to reach thousands of children. Nousha Kabawat and a team of volunteers will be holding multiple summer…

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A pic that says it all!


Oh Still such …. when will there be changes?


Still such miseries and such pain all around! Speeches like this should never have been non-issues!

Such awful, gruesome and grotesque diseases! Racism, discrimination and similar epidemics that never seem to seem to be buried!


This Malcom X speech could have been from today! So sad! So tragic! – Many good points even if I spare any form of violence in all contexts. And if anybody should go somewhere then everybody should to return “home”!

A Tribute to the Great Icon of Leadership and Humanity!

R.I.P. Madiba Nelson Mandela 1918.07.18—2013.11.05


Fellow South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu said, “Like a most precious diamond honed deep beneath the surface of the earth, the Madiba who emerged from prison in January 1990 was virtually flawless.” Tutu said Friday that Madiba’s legacy would live on in South Africa.