The apportionment of human genetic diversity within and between populations has been measured to understand human relatedness and demographic history. Likewise, the distribution of archaic ancestry in modern populations can be leveraged to better understand the interaction between our species and its archaic relatives. Resolving the interactions between modern and archaic human populations can be difficult, as archaic variants in modern populations have been shaped by genetic drift, bottlenecks and gene flow. Here, we investigate the distribution of archaic variation in Eurasian populations. We find that archaic ancestry coverage at the individual- and population-level present distinct patterns in modern human populations: South Asians have nearly twice the number of population-unique archaic alleles compared with Europeans or East Asians, indicating that these populations experienced differing demographic and archaic admixture events. We confirm previous observations that East Asian individuals have more Neanderthal ancestry than European individuals, but surprisingly, when we compare the number of single nucleotide polymorphisms with archaic alleles found across a population, Europeans have more Neanderthal ancestry than East Asians. We compare these results to simulated models and conclude that these patterns are consistent with multiple admixture events between modern humans and Neanderthals.;
This article is part of the theme issue ‘Celebrating 50 years since Lewontin's apportionment of human diversity’.