Thursday, May 19, 2005

DNA Study: European Genes went from India

May 19th

thanks to reader siva.
more nails in the coffin of the aryan invasion fairy-tale. i posted a similar article a while ago on this blog.
but i do love the name of the fellow quoted below: how ironically appropriate that it should be a macaulay! this is one of god's little mischiefs.

Actual article:

DNA Study Yields Clues on First Migration of Early Humans
By studying the DNA of an ancient people in Malaysia, a team of
geneticists  says it has illuminated many aspects of how modern humans
migrated from  Africa.

The geneticists say there was only one migration of modern humans out of
Africa; that it took a southern route to India, Southeast Asia and
Australia; and that it consisted of a single band of hunter-gatherers,
probably just a few hundred people strong.

Because these events occurred in the last Ice Age, when Europe was at
first  too cold for human habitation, the researchers say, it was
populated only  later, not directly from Africa but as an offshoot of the
southern  migration. The people of this offshoot would presumably have
trekked back  through the lands that are now India and Iran to reach the
Near East and  Europe.

The findings depend on analysis of mitochondrial DNA, a type of genetic
material inherited solely through the female line. They are reported today
in Science by a team of geneticists led by Dr. Vincent Macaulay of the
University of Glasgow.

Everyone in the world can be placed on a single family tree, in terms of
their mitochondrial DNA, because everyone has inherited that piece of DNA
from a single woman, the mitochondrial Eve, who lived some 200,000 years

There were, of course, many other women in that ancient population. But
over  the generations, one mitochondrial DNA replaced all the others
through the  process known as genetic drift.

With the help of mutations that have built up on the one surviving copy,
geneticists can arrange people in lineages and estimate the time of origin
of each lineage.

With this approach, Dr. Macaulay's team calculates that the emigration
from  Africa occurred 65,000 years ago, pushed along the coasts of India
and  Southeast Asia and reached Australia by 50,000 years ago, the date of
the  earliest known archaeological site there.

The Malaysian people whom the geneticists studied are the Orang Asli. The
term means "original men" in Malay.

They are probably descended from this first migration, because they have
several ancient mitochondrial DNA lineages that are found nowhere else.

These lineages are 42,000 to 63,000 years old, the geneticists say.
Subgroups of the Orang Asli, like the Semang, have probably been able to
remain intact because they adapted to the harsh existence of living in
forests, said Dr. Stephen Oppenheimer, the member of the geneticists' team
who collected blood samples in Malaysia.

Some archaeologists theorize that Europe was colonized by a second
migration  that traveled north out of Africa. This fits with the earliest
known modern  human sites, dating from 45,000 years ago in the Levant and
40,000 years ago  in Europe.

Dr. Macaulay's team says there could have been just one migration, not
two,  because the mitochondrial lineages of everyone outside Africa
converge at  the same time to the same common ancestors. Therefore, people
from the  southern migration, probably in India, must have struck inland
to reach the  Levant and, later, Europe, the geneticists say.

Dr. Macaulay said it was not clear why just one group succeeded in leaving
Africa. One possibility is that because the migration occurred by
continuous  population expansion, leaving people in place at each site,
the first  emigrants may have blocked others from leaving. Another is that
the terrain  was so difficult for hunter-gatherers, who carry all their
belongings with  them, that only one group succeeded in the exodus.

Although there is general but not complete agreement that modern humans
emigrated from Africa in recent times, there is still a difference between
geneticists and archaeologists about its a timing. Archaeologists tend to
view the genetic data as providing invaluable information about the
interrelationship between groups, but they place less confidence in the
dates derived from genetic family trees.

There is no evidence of modern humans outside Africa earlier than 50,000
years ago, said Dr. Richard Klein, an archaeologist at Stanford. Also, if
something happened 65,000 years ago to allow people to leave Africa, as
Dr.  Macaulay's team suggests, there should surely be some record of that
in the  archaeological record in Africa, Dr. Klein said. Yet signs of
modern human  behavior do not appear in Africa until 50,000 years ago, the
transition  between the Middle and Later Stone Ages, he said.

"If they want to push such an idea, find me a 65,000-year-old site with
evidence of human occupation outside of Africa," Dr. Klein said.

Geneticists counter that many of the coastline sites occupied by the first
emigrants would now lie under water, because the sea level has risen more
than 200 feet since the last Ice Age. Dr. Klein expressed reservations
about  that argument, noting that people would not wait for the slowly
rising sea  levels to overwhelm them but would build new sites farther

Dr. Macaulay said genetic dates had improved in recent years, now that it
is  affordable to decode the whole ring of mitochondrial DNA, and not just
a  small segment.

But he said he agreed "that archaeological dates are much firmer than the
genetic ones" and that it was possible his 65,000-year date for the
African  exodus was too old.

Dr. Macaulay's team has been able to estimate the size of the population
in  Africa from which the founders descended. The calculation indicates a
maximum of 550 women. The true size may have been considerably less. This
points to a single group of hunter-gatherers, perhaps a couple of hundred
strong, as the ancestors of all humans outside of Africa, Dr. Macaulay



san said...

Mitochondrial DNA is another subject I find very fascinating. Not only is it a marker for tracing hereditary mixing, but it's also the vulnerable 'Achilles Heel' of our genome. As you know, the mitochondria are the cellular organelles which act as the powerplants for the cell. They actually contain their own DNA, in a simpler form than found in the cell's nucleus. This mitochondrial DNA is unfortunately exposed to the damaging power-generation activity which is the mitochondria's basic role function. As this DNA accumulates damage over time, it loses its ability to coordinate the power generation, thus gradually causing the energy production to fall as you get older. The consequence of this is loss of health, vitality and vigor as we get older. Read this interesting article:

India should really plunge itself head-first into biotech, since it is the Great Coming Market of our time.

Ashish Gupta said...

Hi Rajeeve,

You may find this link interesting. It shows graphics of human migration as detailed in the article you cited.

Anonymous said...

RS you dumbass armchair expert on everything. The fact that humans went from India to Europe 50,000 years ago, does not preclude the possibility that some came back 5000 years ago. Like all your arguments, this one is based on BS. How the hell did you get into IIT. On an SC/ST quota or is even that one of your BS.

san said...

Is this the same anonymous putz who was telling me about coming up with "our own path" for secularism and separation of church and state? Hey, mastermind, did you feel repulsed by them because they left and came back as invading Aryan minorities, or did you feel heartened when they converted to become invading Islamic minorities? I'm just curious which ethnic flavor you slobber over and which do you spit upon, since you're obsessed with organizing the state along ethnic lines.

Ryan said...

I think this "anonymous" guy has a point although it wasnt palatably presented. Lets be objective about this, how is AIT disproved by this evidence...because it says nothing about the invasion that (supposedly) took place 5000 years ago.

Also Bamshad et al. report has it that the Y-chromosome DNA in higher caste Indians is closer to Europeans than asians... moreover it says that there was a massive male migration which fits the speculation of a marauding army of invaders !

san said...

Ryan, I myself believe in Aryan Invasion Theory. The arrival of the British was the most recent proof that India frankly is a very invadeable and conquerable country. But the difference is that I find the Aryan Invasion/"migration" of 5000 years ago to merely be of academic importance, while some would cite it as grounds for judging who is a "first son of the soil". And that slant is invoked often enough that AIT needs to have a disclaimer attached to it. As long as the AIT is used to attack people's Vedic culture, then it's going to be looked upon as a dubious argument. Prof Philip Rushton infamously argued the superiority of asians and caucasians over africans. His data may not be in dispute, but his motivations for presenting it are. So I think AIT proponents need to justify why AIT would be relevant to discussions on social values, and why it should be used to attack the merits of Vedic social values.

san said...

So, in further putting discussion of AIT into proper context -- I would point out that the Vedic culture and value system -- which AIT is unfortunately BADLY MISUSED TO ATTACK -- is still nevertheless a culture that is native to India. Vedic culture is not extra-territorialist, it does not advocate any external centre, such as a Rome or a Mecca. It is home-grown and home-serving. AIT should not be used to portrary Vedic culture as a colonial construct.

Udayan Deshpande said...

I dont know if this article implies any sort of repudiation of the Aryan invasion theory.

I do not believe or contest that theory, however, this article does not have much bearing on it because of the entirely different time periods involved.

It is possible that the migration from India to Europe occured 40,000 years ago and it is simultaneously possible that a reverse migration occured another 30,000 years later.

Udayan Deshpande said...

Oops looks like this has already been discussed.

Chaddi-Buster said...

Try telling that to the moronic armchair expert on everything RS. He is so blinded by his hatred for non-chaddis that he will accept any BS as proof for his moronic notions. Interestingly he has not commented on this faux pax yet. Too obstinate to acknowledge a mistake eh!

doubtinggaurav said...

I dont think that Mitochondrial theory proves or disproves Aryan Migration Theory (Note. I believe that Aryan Invasion Theory has been rejected even by the high priestess of communism Romila Thapar, but I am not sure)

There are other valid reasons to doubt veracity of Aryan Migration (I will try to give some link later on, but I am lazy :-))
The misfortune of India is that as a people we are indifferent towards our past (Glorious or otherwise)
I think it is due to our perceived inferiority (which is result of subconcious belief that we have been vanquished for last 1000 years and not the the victors)

I think we will become interested in our history only if west endorses like it did yoga and ayurveda

Ryan said...

I totally agree with you san. And we must not forget that after all, it was the Indians who taught the world how to count. I just wish the true spiritual character of India be those free-thinking Yogis who lived back then.