Tuesday, May 19, 2015
More than 60% of males in modern-day Europe descend from Bronze Age leaders
Genetic researchers estimate that three families in particular, which originated around 5,000 years ago, rapidly expanded across the continent. And the study suggests that the spread of modern populations across Europe occurred much later than had originally been thought. Rather than occurring during the Palaeolithic period as hunter-gatherers moved across the continent, it appears that most modern populations appear to have settled in Europe after the spread of farming during the Neolithic. Professor Mark Jobling, a geneticist at the University of Leicester who led the research, said it was likely the forefathers of the three main paternal lineages detected were powerful Early Bronze Age tribe leaders. He said: "The population expansion falls within the Bronze Age, which involved changes in burial practices, the spread of horse-riding and developments in weaponry. Dominant males linked with these cultures could be responsible for the Y chromosome patterns we see today." The researchers analyzed the DNA sequences from the Y chromosomes of 334 men from 17 populations across Europe and the Middle East. These included men from England, Bavaria, Orkney, Turkey, Greece, Norway, and Hungary. They searched for mutations on the Y chromosome that are only carried by men, and so can be used to trace paternal lines through families. By comparing the DNA from each of the populations they were able to trace key mutations in the genomes and work out when they may have occurred. They found one mutation appears to have originated around 4,750 to 7,340 years ago and is prevalent in Norwegian and Orkadian populations. Another mutation seems to have occurred between 3,700 and 6,500 years ago and has spread throughout Spain, Italy, France, England and Ireland. A third mutation seems to have occurred in a man who lived between 3,470 and 5,070 years ago and is prominent in the Sami in Lapland, Norwegian, Danish, Frisia populations in the Netherlands, but can also be found in France, Hungary, Serbia and Bavaria. Together, the scientists estimate from their findings, that these three paternal lines account for 63% of the European men currently living.