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The work was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A family tree of Indo-European languages suggests they began to spread and split about 9,000 years ago.
The finding hints that farmers in what is now Turkey drove the language boom - and not later Siberian horsemen, as some linguists reckon.
"The genetic evolution of humans in the very recent past might in some ways be linked to the cultural evolution," he said.
Other scientists urge great caution in interpreting the research.
So suggests new research that tracked changes in two genes thought to help regulate brain growth, changes that appeared well after the rise of modern humans 200,000 years ago.