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July 05, 2005

Genographic survey results

Some time ago I wrote that I was taking part in the National Geographic Society's Genographic Survey. My results are finally back. They seem to be saying that I really am a dinosaur! I am a member of Haplogroup R1B (M343) and my DNA ties me back to the M168 marker which orginates in Africa. Apparently I am carrying the DNA of "Eurasian Adam", an individual whose Y chromosome DNA dates back plus or minus 60,000 years to a location just North of lake Uganda. This individual is the male ancestor of all Non-African people alive today!

The survey tracks the DNA of males and females, looking at the Y-chromosome DNA for males and the mitachondrial DNA for females. The migration maps show some interesting departures with female DNA following sometimes very different routes to the male lineage that forms the modern population of any given area.

His descendents migrated from Africa about 60,000 years ago (they are identified as M168) and their original journey took them to the Saudi Arabian Peninsula. From them came the next "marker", M89, the carriers of which moved North into Israel/Palestine, Jordan and the modern Middle East. They in turn gave rise to the next "marker" I carry, that labelled M9 - whose bearers moved East into modern Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and then over the Himalayas and into Kazakstan and gave rise to the next Marker, M45.

The carriers of this "marker" moved into the Central Eurasian steppe area, some going East into Mongolia and modern China, others West into modern Russia. The Western branch gave rise to my next "marker", M173, the carriers of this marker moved across what is today the Caucas Mountains and the Urals and into modern Poland and Northern Germany. Some doubled back into Southern Byelorus and the Caspian Sea. The Westernmost members of this group gave rise to my next "marker", the final one, M343, whose carriers moved fully into Europe through modern Germany, the Low Countries, France and into Northern Spain where they sat out the Ice Age. As the Ice receded, they moved North again and their descendents colonised England, France and most of the Northern European lands.

Carriers of the M343 marker are direct descendents of Cro-Magnon Man, the first modern Europeans whose arrival 35,000 years ago signalled the beginning of the end of the Neanderthals. Contrary to popular belief, it would appear that the Cro-Magnons were simply better at adapting and surviving than their predecessors and their culture seems to have been more developed and much more able in the fields of technology - they wove clothing from fibres while their fellow inhabitants struggled with cut skins and cruder tools.

The movement of this line across the continent has also been interesting to read - starting out between 79,000 and 31,000 years ago in Africa, the dating to the Markers is as follows:

Eurasian Adam M168 - Upper Paleolithic Period - probably 60,000 years ago

M89 - 45,000 years ago in Northern Africa or the Middle East arising from M168, this marker is carried by many in the Middle East as far North as Anatolia and the Balkans. The M170 marker also arose from this group and reached Europe through Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Romanian area ending in Austria. Another marker, M201 travelled South through Iran and populated Pakistan, the Indus and West side of India. Yet another, M172 reached Italy via Greece!

M9 - 40,000 years ago in the Middle East arising from the M89 strain. This marker is carried by most Indians and Europeans. This marker also gave rise to M20 and M175, M20 being the principal marker moving into cenrtral India and M175 continuing through Burma, Thailand and on into Malasia and further East. An unusual marker, LLY22G, moved off from this strain and populated Northern Russia, Siberia and Finalnd and Sweden!

M45 - Appeared between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago and defines the movement into the Northern Steppes where they even survived the Ice Age. The marker arising from this one - a single marker, M242, which moved East through Mongolia and China and into North America is partnered by four parallel female markers, and seems to be the "father" of both the Northern Asian peoples and the American "Indian" population.

M173 - Arrived in Europe around 35,000 years ago showing the Westward drift of the Steppe peoples carrying M45. The presence of the Ice sheets across Northern Europe meant that they travelled along a fairly confined area in very harsh conditions - something which may have helped speed the movement and the next development, the arrival of the next marker M343 which is found in Europe from 35,000 years ago until the present day.

The M173/M343 markers are still predominant in Europe today, the descendents of these early settlers moving North as the ice cleared and settling the newly available hunting and agricultural lands available to them. These peoples crossed into and settled in Britain as little as 8,000 years ago - and may well have had to retreat again for a while as the ice advanced again. Permanent settlement does not, according to the experts, appear to have been possible here until it became an island around 6,500 years ago.

What I have found fascinating in studying this material is the speed with which new markers seem to have appeared as the populations expanded. Equally fascinating is the map showing the movements of human colonists from these early hunter gatherers as they fanned out to populate and colonise the globe. If you have not already done so, I recommend that you visit the National Geographic's excellent site and explore the human journey!

We have been a remarkably successful species - let us hope that we have a real future and that our descendents prove as hardy and as durable and adaptable as those distant ancestors whose genes have shaped us!

All in all, it has shown me that our journey has been a fascinating one - and it isn't over yet. I wonder what the next such survey will produce?

Posted by The Gray Monk at July 5, 2005 10:15 AM


Cool! Wish I had know about the survey. I would love to know where I came from.

Posted by: vw bug at July 5, 2005 12:38 PM