26 Apr 2016

Men of Haplogroup R1b-L11 (Half the Men Living in Western Europe) Thought to Descend From One Bronze Age Man

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Bronze Age burial.

Genome Web summarizes an interesting paper on “Punctuated bursts in human male demography…” published yesterday in Nature Genetics.

[R]esearchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and elsewhere analyzed the Y chromosomes of more than 1,200 men from 26 populations using data collected by the 1000 Genome Project. After examining about 65,000 variants contained within this dataset, the researchers constructed a phylogenetic tree — a tree, they noted, that more closely resembled a bush in some spots.

“This pattern tells us that there was an explosive increase in the number of men carrying a certain type of Y chromosome, within just a few generations,” co-lead author Yali Xue from the Sanger Institute said in a statement. “We only observed this phenomenon in males, and only in a few groups of men.”

Xue and her colleagues drew upon a set of 1,244 Y chromosomes from men belonging to 26 world populations. …

[T]he branching patterns they observed among several lineages indicated extreme expansion some 50,000 years to 55,000 years ago as well as within the last few thousand years. The expansion 50,000 years to 55,000 years ago was also linked to an increase in lineages outside of Africa and could, they suggested, reflect the expansion of Eurasian populations.

It also supports the previously proposed notion that haplogroup E, which is the most predominant one in Africa, actually arose outside the continent and arrived there through gene flow from Asia some 50,000 years to 80,000 years ago.

The phylogenetic tree also hints that lineages that have spread throughout Eurasia may have first diversified within South and Southeast Asia. …

[These branching patterns] suggested that… bursts of male population growth might correspond to historical events. For instance, they noted an expansion of the Q1a-M3 lineage in the Americas some 15,000 years ago, which roughly corresponds with initial peopling there. In addition, they found that both the Eb1-M180 lineages in sub-Saharan Africa underwent an expansion about 5,000 years ago at about the time of the Bantu expansion. Finally, within Western Europe, they said the expansion of the R1b-L11 lineages some 4,800 years to 5,900 years ago could be associated with the rise of the Bronze Age Yamnaya culture.

The researchers were less certain about the reasons behind some of the other late expansions they observed.

“The best explanation is that they may have resulted from advances in technology that could be controlled by small groups of men,” the Sanger Institute’s Chris Tyler­-Smith added. “Wheeled transport, metal working, and organized warfare are all candidate explanations that can now be investigated further.”


Leave it to newspapers to popularize this kind of thing. The Telegraph takes the last portion of the reported findings, the part relevant to Merry Old England, and runs with it.

Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown.

The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent.

He was part of a new order which emerged in Europe following the Stone Age, sweeping away the previous egalitarian Neolithic period and replacing it with hierarchical societies which were ruled by a powerful elite.

It is likely his power stemmed from advances in technology such as metal working and wheeled transport which enabled organised warfare for the first time.

Although it is not known who he was, or where he lived, scientists say he must have existed because of genetic variation in today’s European populations.

Read the whole thing.

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Conan the Barbarian?


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