BAMAD no.47

 DNA and 
 Anthropology Updates 

Updates in DNA studies along with Anthropological Notes of general interest with a particular emphasis on points pertinent to the study of Ancient Israelite Ancestral Connections to Western Peoples as explained in Brit-Am studies.


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BAMAD no. 47
Brit-Am Anthropology and DNA Update
1st March 2009,6 Adar 5769
1. Origins, age, spread and ethnic association of European haplogroups and subclades
2. Irish Animals and Plants from Spain but the People are Not!
3. Y chromosome of Tsar Nicholas II
4. Sephardic Ancestry Common Among Spaniards, Study Says
5. Modern English Mainly Descended from
Meideval Bourgeoisie?

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1. Origins, age, spread and ethnic association of European haplogroups and subclades

2. Irish Animals and Plants may be from Spain but the People are Not!
(a) News Item

Genetic studies show our closest relatives are found in Galicia and the Basque region

Mon, Feb 16, 2009

ANCESTRAL LINKS:WHAT DO pygmy shrews, badgers, mountain hares, pine martins and Irish people have in common? All probably originally came to Ireland on boats from northern Spain.

Our closest relatives are found in various parts of Galicia and the Basque country according to genetic studies led by Prof Dan Bradley of Trinity College Dublin's Smurfit Institute of Genetics. He presented his research over the weekend at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago.

He was joined by Queen's University Belfast archaeologist and linguist Prof James Mallory who talked about efforts to link these DNA studies with the transmission of languages across western Europe.

The chair of the session was the Government's chief scientific adviser, Prof Patrick Cunningham.

Prof Bradley and colleagues have done extensive genetic analysis into where the Irish came from and how they got to Ireland. He studies genes associated with the Y chromosome, a genetic inheritance that comes via the father.

By tracking the presence of certain Y chromosome markers he can travel back in time to map our relatedness to others across Europe. He explained how he had also done this with the two main species of cattle, the familiar flat-backed cattle and the hump-backed cattle seen in India and Africa.

The human data definitively showed that our strongest relatedness was with the northern Iberian peninsula, with this genetic signal strongest for the Irish living today in the west of Ireland. These in turn were likely the closest relatives of the migrants who originally settled in Ireland.

Genetic studies of Irish fauna also showed this distinctive signal, he said. "The Irish badgers are Spanish, but the British badgers are not. The fauna of Ireland seems to be divergent. How does one explain this?" he asked.

The most likely explanation was that the island was settled by migrants from northern Spain as the glaciers that covered Ireland from the last ice age melted away. "It seems to me that most animals in Ireland came by boat. There seems to have been some communication with southern Europe."

The Book of Invasions from the 8th century talked about an invasion by the Spanish king Milesius, he said.

His group also looked for genetic linkages between people sharing a common surname, something passed along from the male lineage like the Y chromosome.

They found linkages that traced back, to the famous Ui Neill kindred, from whom Niall Noigiallagh, Niall of the nine hostages was descended.

Prof Mallory described attempts to match up the transmission of languages with the dispersal of DNA as people migrated across Europe. It was extremely difficult however due to confounding influences including language transmission via "elite dominance".

Settled areas with a unique language later taken over by invaders would see language displacement, with the newcomers imposing their own language. However, the local gene pool would remain and would dilute the genetic influence of the newcomers.

This was possibly the reason why when one looked for genetic evidence of the Celts in Ireland these Celtic genes could not be found. Studies of this dynamic has occurred in what is now Hungary showed a mismatch between the dominant language and the dominant genetic influence. "Modern DNA is no predictor of the modern Hungarian language," Prof Mallory said.

(b) DNA Comment:

Brit-Am Comment:
The extract from the letter below points out that certain DNA markers that are unique to Ireland and the British Isles and overwhelmingly present in Ireland are hardly found in Spain meaning that any genetic connection to Spain must be a very distant one.
The importantce of the markers in question has only recently beeen realized.
From: "Richard Stevens" <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] News release: Irish connection to the Basque
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 12:28:14 -0500

Sounds like they are several years behind the times to me.

When will they catch up? We have a number of men of Basque ancestry in the R-P312 and Subclades Project. Not a single one of them is L21+, and L21 seems to be the predominant marker in Ireland.

Thus far we don't have even a single person who can trace his ancestry to Iberia who has been found to be L21+. I anticipate there will be some eventually, but it doesn't seem likely that L21 will be common there.
On the other hand, L21 is showing up fairly well in France, Germany and Scandinavia.


3. Y chromosome of Tsar Nicholas II
The Y-chromosome haplotype of the Tsar appears to belong to haplogroup R1b. Interestingly, they were able to get the Tsar's DNA from a bloodstained shirt:
In 1890-1891 Nicholas II, then-heir to the throne was on an around-the-world voyage. On 11 May 1891, during his visit to Osaka, Japan, he was attacked and injured in an apparent assassination attempt. The escort policemen swung at Nicholas II's head with a saber; however the following blow was parried by Prince George of Greece and Denmark who was accompanying Nicholas II. Although the wound was not life-threatening, Nicholas II was severely bleeding and a long scar remained on the right side of his forehead.

Interestingly (not mentioned in the article), Nicholas II and his savior Prince George shared patrilineal ancestry, as they were both descended from Frederick I of Denmark. Thus, it seems (barring any "accident") that the dynasty founded by King George I of the Hellenes would also belong in haplogroup R1b.

Extracts from Comments:
The attack on Nicholas II of Russia to which this author has referred is the so-called " tsu incident" ( , cf., the motivation for which is still unclear. A cloth that had been used for first aid after the attack was previously tested for DNA, but at that time, researchers were not able to obtain reliable results for anything except the blood type.
by  Ebizur, at Saturday, February 28, 2009 2:30:00 AM  

By Patrilineal descent, Prince Phillip of UK and therefore Price Charles would also also share common Y chromosomes if the genealogies we have are correct...
by  John, at Saturday, February 28, 2009 11:34:00 PM  

4. Sephardic Ancestry Common Among Spaniards, Study Says
Spain and Portugal have a history of fervent Catholicism, but almost a third of the population now turns out to have a non-Christian genetic heritage. Some 20 percent of the present population of the Iberian peninsula has Sephardic Jewish ancestry, and 11 percent bear Moorish DNA signatures, a team of geneticists reports.

5. Modern English Mainly Descended from Medieval Bourgeoisie?
Guess which surnames died out in pre-industrial England? 
The surnames of the criminal and the poor, of course.
Greg Clark provides new evidence for the "survival of the richest" here (and he thanks Nick Wade for the idea). From the abstract:
[E]vidence from...surnames...again shows the takeover of English society by the economically successful between 1600 and 1851, and the disappearance of the criminal and the poor. A man's economic success in pre-industrial England predicted a permanent increase of his surname frequency, and hence his gene frequency, by 1851.

Extracts from Amazon Viewpoints:

After 1800, something happened in England that caused production to outpace population growth. It was the first time in history that a society actually escaped from the Malthusian trap. For the first time incomes and consumption per capita began to rise. To find out why this occurred, Clark undertook a study of wills in England going back hundreds of years. He discovered that the rich had twice as many offspring as the poor, thus they outpopulated the poor. The rich brought with them certain skills and behaviors such as literacy, numeracy, work discipline, deferral of gratification, etc., that eventually permeated the rest of society in a downwardly mobile fashion.

Why did England take off and others did not? Why the Great Divergence? The phrase is taken from Kenneth Pomeranz's book The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. which deals with the same subject. Clark asks why the gap between rich and poor countries went from 4:1 in 1800 to 50:1 today. His answer is that in countries such as China and Japan the rich did not produce enough offspring to spread their productive behaviors downward through the rest of the population.

As evidence, Clark sites several changes that did happen between 1000-1750: The Rise of Literacy, the Fall of Interpersonal Violence, the lengthening of working hours and the decrease in the time preference of money, which meant that people learned to postpone satisfaction. "Thrift, prudence, negotiation and hard work [became] values for communities that... [had been] spendthrift, impulsive, violent and leisure loving." (p.166)

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