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. 50
Brit-Am Anthropology and DNA Update
7 April 2009, 13 Nisan 5769
1. DNA Proof that Gaels from Ireland
2. Arabian Genealogy
3. Blue eyes in lemurs and humans: Same phenotype, different genetic mechanism.
1. DNA Proof that Gaels from Ireland
Clues to ancient invasion in DNA
DNA may hold clues to an ancient movement from Ireland to Scotland
Scientific evidence of an ancient invasion of Scotland from Ireland may have
been uncovered by DNA techniques.
Researchers from Edinburgh University said studies of Scots living on Islay,
Lewis, Harris and Skye were found to have strong links with Irish people.
Early historical sources recount how the Gaels came from Ireland about 500 AD
and conquered the Picts in Argyll.
Scientists said the study was the first demonstration of a significant Irish
genetics component in Scots' ancestry.
The research, which features work by geneticist Dr Jim Wilson, a specialist in
population genetics, is being featured in programmes on Gaelic television
channel BBC Alba.
The study also suggests intriguing ancestry of Scots living on the Western Isles
and in the north and north east of Scotland.
Dr Wilson said: "It was extremely exciting to see for the first time the ancient
genetic connection between Scotland and Ireland - the signature of a movement of
people from Ireland to Scotland, perhaps of the Scots or Gaels themselves."
The origin of the Gaels - who by conquering and integrating with Pictish
northern tribes created the Kingdom of Alba - has been debated by historians for
The earliest historical source comes from around the 10th Century and relates
that the Gaels came from Ireland in about 500 AD, under King Fergus Mor.
However, more recently archaeologists have suggested the Gaels had lived in
Argyll for centuries before Fergus Mor's invasion.
The study also suggested an east-west genetic divide seen in England and
attributed to Anglo-Saxons and Danes was evident in the north of Scotland.
This was noted in places far from Anglo-Saxon and Danish settlements, indicating
that this division was older and may have arisen in the Bronze Age through
trading networks across the North Sea.
Geneticists also said as many as 40% of the population on the Western Isles
could have Viking ancestry, while no Viking ancestry was found in north east
2. Arabian Genealogy
This is not a topic that is much known or discussed outside the Arab world,
but it's certainly a very interesting one due to the patrilineal descent
observed by traditional Arabian tribes.
Getting to the roots of family trees
According to Mr al Matroushi, Arabic family trees were kept diligently during
the pre-Islamic period, between the time of Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed; with
the expansion of Islamic influence beyond the Arabian peninsula, however, there
was a lot of mixing and it became increasingly difficult to keep track of the
various branches of far-flung families.
However, he says all Arab tribes can trace their origins to two main ones, the
Qahtaniya and Adnaniya, that are direct descendants of Ismail, son of the
Prophet Ibrahim. Prophet Mohammed's ancestry is from the Adnaniya tribe.
Mr al Shehhi has published a book about the outcome of DNA testing on some of
the main tribes in the UAE; he concluded that all the Emirati tribes come from
"three fathers", tens of thousands of years ago.
The UAE tribes, he says, "are the same as the rest of the Arabian tribes as
there was no UAE or Saudi Arabia or any specific country; it was all open land
and the tribes moved around."
In genetics, the various major branches of the family tree of the human race are
defined as "haplogroups". According to genetic theory, says Mr Shehhi, the
entire human race came from one man and one woman, labelled as "Adam" and "Eve",
and both came from Africa.
The samples taken by Mr al Shehhi from UAE tribes show about 70 per cent of them
are from haplogroup J1 and the rest are from J2 and E1B1. The "father", labelled
by genetic science as J1, came from an area we know now as Iraq; J2 came from
the area north of modern-day Syria and E1B1 from Syria itself.
3. Blue eyes in lemurs and
humans: Same phenotype, different genetic mechanism.
Bradley BJ, Pedersen A, Mundy NI.
Am J Phys Anthropol. 2009 Mar 10.
Almost all mammals have brown or darkly-pigmented eyes (irises), but among
primates, there are some prominent blue-eyed exceptions. The blue eyes of some
humans and lemurs are a striking example of convergent evolution of a rare
phenotype on distant branches of the primate tree. Recent work on humans
indicates that blue eye color is associated with, and likely caused by, a single
nucleotide polymorphism (rs12913832) in an intron of the gene HERC2, which
likely regulates expression of the neighboring pigmentation gene OCA2. This
raises the immediate question of whether blue eyes in lemurs might have a
similar genetic basis. We addressed this by sequencing the homologous genetic
region in the blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur macaco flavifrons; N = 4) and the
closely-related black lemur (Eulemur macaco macaco; N = 4), which has brown
eyes. We then compared a 166-bp segment corresponding to and flanking the human
eye-color-associated region in these lemurs, as well as other primates (human,
chimpanzee, orangutan, macaque, ring-tailed lemur, mouse lemur). Aligned
sequences indicated that this region is strongly conserved in both Eulemur
macaco subspecies as well as the other primates (except blue-eyed humans).
Therefore, it is unlikely that this regulatory segment plays a major role in eye
color differences among lemurs as it does in humans. Although convergent
phenotypes can sometimes come about via the same or similar genetic changes
occurring independently, this does not seem to be the case here, as we have
shown that the genetic basis of blue eyes in lemurs differs from that of humans.
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