Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are British men descended from Middle Eastern farmers?

Most men in Britain may have descended from the first farmers to migrate across Europe from the Near East 10,000 years ago, scientists say. Ancient farmers may have left their genetic mark on modern males by breeding more successfully than indigenous hunter-gatherer men as they made their way west, a study has found. As a result, more than 60% of British men, and nearly all of those in Ireland, may trace their Y chromosome back to the agricultural revolution, or more precisely the sexual success of the men behind it. The farmers' Y chromosome becomes more common in the west of England and reaches a national peak of 78% in Cornwall, scientists found. Men with surnames including Titchmarsh and Haythornthwaite are among the most likely to carry the farmers' Y chromosome, known as R1b1b2. The Y chromosome is passed down the male line only, from father to son. Researchers collected DNA samples from more than 2,500 men across Europe. Around 80% of the men had the R1b1b2 type of Y chromosome, making it the most common lineage on the continent. A map showing the distribution of the chromosome across Britain reveals that it became increasingly common but less genetically diverse from the south east to the north west. The analysis suggests the R1b1b2 Y chromosome entered the country with the earliest farmers in the south east and gradually spread west as they migrated. Genetic tests on women showed that most are descendants of hunter-gatherer females.


European man perhaps a Middle Eastern farmer

Sowing their seeds: Neolithic farmers spawned most European males


Maju said...

I found this blog because you were the only one to make a common sense comment at GNXP (I don't follow Razib anymore but someone told me to look there in this case) only to find that here you reproduce blindly what the authors of this misleading study claim.

If you want to read a different interpretation, check what I wrote at my blog (I'm also heatedly arguing the matter at Dienekes' blog, a more populated site that I still follow, even if I often disagree with the author too).

Average Joe said...

Since I am not a scientist myself I not in a position to critique the work of the scientists involved in this study but I am grateful for your input. Hopefully this study - whether correct or not - will lead to further research in this area.