A Late Pleistocene human genome from Southwest China.
Southern East Asia is the dispersal center regarding the prehistoric settlement and migrations of modern humans in Asia-Pacific regions. However, the settlement pattern and population structure of paleolithic humans in this region remain elusive, and ancient DNA can provide direct information. Here, we sequenced the genome of a Late Pleistocene hominin (MZR), dated ∼14.0 thousand years ago from Red Deer Cave located in Southwest China, which was previously reported possessing mosaic features of modern and archaic hominins. MZR is the first Late Pleistocene genome from southern East Asia. Our results indicate that MZR is a modern human who represents an early diversified lineage in East Asia. The mtDNA of MZR belongs to an extinct basal lineage of the M9 haplogroup, reflecting a rich matrilineal diversity in southern East Asia during the Late Pleistocene. Combined with the published data, we detected clear genetic stratification in ancient southern populations of East/Southeast Asia and some degree of south-versus-north divergency during the Late Pleistocene, and MZR was identified as a southern East Asian who exhibits genetic continuity to present day populations. Markedly, MZR is linked deeply to the East Asian ancestry that contributed to First Americans.