INFERRING DEMOGRAPHY FROM ANCIENT GENOMES: PROMISES AND CHALLENGES
The genomes of ancient humans hold rich information about human population history. Patterns of relatedness can tell us about parameters of past demography, including population sizes or individual mobility. In the last decade, the ancient DNA field has generated thousands of genome sequences of individuals who lived in the last 10,000 years. For pre-historic humans, for which little other direct evidence is available, this data has yielded new insights into past demography. Here I outline how geneticists have transferred population genetic inferences into estimates about past demography, and I also describe what challenges persist for such conversions. As a case example, I will discuss demographic estimates for the pre-contact Caribbean obtained from ancient genomes which challenge previous estimates of census sizes.