February 04, 2010

Charles Darwin belonged to Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b

Not very surprising given his nationality. I guess there is a small chance of a non-paternity event in 4 transmission events, so the result is probably not as good as e.g., exhuming Charles Darwin himself and testing him directly, but that's probably just nitpicking.

DISCOVERING THE ORIGINS OF CHARLES DARWIN
Today, 200 years after his birth, DNA technology has helped determine who Darwin’s ancient ancestors were. Darwin’s great-great-grandson, Chris Darwin, 48, who lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, took a Genographic Project public participation cheek swab test analyzing his “Y” chromosome. According to Dr. Spencer Wells, project director of the Genographic Project, a research partnership between National Geographic and IBM with field support from the Waitt Family Foundation, Darwin’s deep ancestry shows his ancestors left Africa around 45,000 years ago.

“I couldn’t wait to find out my family’s deep ancestry. I suspect that most people would be fascinated to know their family history over the past 60,000 years. After all, how can you understand who you really are, if you don’t know where you have come from?,” Chris Darwin said.

The test revealed that Chris Darwin, and therefore his paternal great-great-grandfather, Charles Darwin, are from Haplogroup R1b, one of the most common European male lineages. “Approximately 70 percent of men in southern England belong to Haplogroup R1b, and in parts of Ireland and Spain that number exceeds 90 percent,” Wells said.

34 comments:

Crimson Guard said...

Spencer Wells doesnt seem to like following the latest data and WAY behind in the times.

R1b is Neolihtic not a direct "Cromagnon" lineage going back 30-60,000 years:

http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000285

mtDNA K(age 12K)is interesting though, it is far commonly found among Orientals such as Ashkenazi Jews, Arabs, Jordanians, Druz, Lebanese, Syrians and the like.

Aaron said...

"mtDNA K(age 12K)is interesting though, it is far commonly found among Orientals such as Ashkenazi Jews, Arabs, Jordanians, Druz, Lebanese, Syrians and the like."

I'm not sure when this became the flavour of the month, but mtDNA K is still predominantly a European lineage from the data we have. Having mtDNA K among North-West Europeans is not surprising, nor is the 70% chance of him being R1b1b2.

Average Joe said...

Crimson Guard:

The way I understand it only one research team has concluded that R1b is neolithic. The other teams still consider it to be paleolithic. The problem that I have with R1b being so young in Europe is that we should also see similar quantities of J and maybe even E but this is very rare in Europe outside of the southeast.

Crimson Guard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
terryt said...

I'm sure R1b is pre-Neolithic. How much 'pre' is the question. It is commonest at the western margin ('in parts of Ireland and Spain that number exceeds 90 percent'), which implies that other haplogroups moving from further east have been gradually replacing it.

I also have a bit of a problem with this:

"Darwin’s deep ancestry shows his ancestors left Africa around 45,000 years ago".

I suspect that is much too recent for any 'modern human' exit from Africa.

Crimson Guard said...

According what I've read, it originated in Northeastern Italy under this mtDNA U8b clade during the Neolithic. It seems it is just observed in Britain and the Alps at higher frequencies than the rest of Europe(Europe's total is a mere 6% compared to the British isles' 10% or the Near East's 15% and Ashkenazi's 32%).

Dienekes recently posted about mtDNA K being found in the Bronze Age Syrians back on the 1st of this month.

All in all, Britain is looking rather typical both in their Y chromosome and mtDNA analysis in displaying the same typical patterns incommon with the Mediterranean basin variability which the Isles were settled from even according to their ancient legends and mythology and not excluding historical migrations.

*The New Y-Chromosome Tree is here:

http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2008/04/new-y-chromosome-haplogroup-tree.html

Maju said...

Crimson: that article is just molecular clock religious junk. Not even half serious. It's been discussed elsewhere here at Dienekes but I synthetized my criticism better at Leherensuge and you can see the what the analytical scalpel of Argiedude found here.

So stop treating quasi-religious pseudo-science as "the latest data". There was no data, absolutely no data in that paper that was properly analyzed. They made an ad-hoc pseudo-research for a their pet theory.

Science, as Darwin himself showed, is something much more serious.

Maju said...

Dienekes recently posted about mtDNA K being found in the Bronze Age Syrians back on the 1st of this month.

On one individual only. It's interesting but, alone, nearly meaningless. You should also read the discussions more often, Crimson.

All in all, Britain is looking rather typical both in their Y chromosome and mtDNA analysis in displaying the same typical patterns incommon with the Mediterranean basin variability which the Isles were settled from even according to their ancient legends and mythology and not excluding historical migrations.

According to archaeology, legends suck or at least fail in geography (are they true legends or Monmouth's inventions anyhow?). Britain was settled first from various parts of mainland Atlantic Europe and, in the Neolithic, from three very specifical regions of modern day France: Brittany, Low Normandy (both Megalithic, non-Danubian and non-Cardial) and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Danubian already at that time but with a more mixed past).

Daniel said...

More about K:

Well, indeed between 30-40% of todays Ashkinazi Jews belong to haplogroup K, yes.

But K is also amoung the dominating haplogroups of the Hunter/Gatherer population of Europe (about 25%). For today, only the British Isles and the Alps reach 10% or more. Rest of Europe around 6%.

Its the question, what subclade of K was Charles Darwin?

Ötzi the Iceman belongs to K1ö, a subclade that does not exist anymore.

K subclades on the British Isles:
32% - K1a+
20% - K1a10
17% - K2
16% - K1c
6% - K1b
4% - K1a4a1 (my own subclade)
3% - typical Ashkinazi Subclades of K (K1a1b1a, K2a2a, K1a9)
2% - K1a11

K subclades in Scandinavia:
33% - K1c
19% - K1b
19% - K1a10
14% - K2
10% - K1a4a1 (my own subclade)
5% - K1a+

K Subclades of France+Lower Countries+Germany:
38% - K1a+
16% - K2
16% - typical Ashkinazi Subclades of K (K1a1b1a, K2a2a, K1a9)
11% - K1b
10% - K1c
6% - K1a10
2% - K1a11
1% - K1a4a1 (my own Subclade)

K Subclades of Austria+Czechia+Hungary
57% - typical Ashkinazi Subclades of K (K1a1b1a, K2a2a, K1a9)
20% - K1a+
9% - K1c
7% - K2
3% - K1b
2% - K1a10
2% - K1a11


K Subclades of Eastern Europe:
86% - typical Ashkinazi Subclades of K (K1a1b1a, K2a2a, K1a9)
6% - K1c
5% - K1a+
3% - K2

Amazing... almost all Eastern European K are Ashkinazi Jews? Is that possible at all?

K Subclades of Mediteranian Europe:
64% - K1a+
14% - K1a10
9% - K2
9% - K1c
4% - K1b

Oh, no Ashkinazi Jewish K in southern Europe.... strange again.
I mean ok, in southern Europe live "Sephardic Jews", but shouldnt they be relatives? -.-

Gioiello said...

I haven't read the paper, but if Charles Darwin is R1b1b2/K1a, the closest to him am I (R1b1b2a/K1a1b1) and I am very proud of this.

About the origin both of R1b1b2 and mtDNA K I have supported a different theory (both from Italy) and we shall see in the next months. I am always waiting that someone who has labs tests the Rozen's SNPs.

Maju said...

It it is Charles Darwin's patrilineal great-grandson, Christopher William, who is mtDNA K and this obviously has nothing to do with the famous biologist's mtDNA: it's a matrilineage and hence unrelated.

They would have to test the DNA of some matrilineal descendant of Charles Darwin's mother or sister to find out.

The only finding here re. Charles Darwin is (probably) his Y-DNA, R1b.

Daniel said...

Yeah. Pretty amazing find, that a guy who was born in a country that has an R1b populution of 70-80% had R1b. ;-)

I think, this news is not even worth publishing.

Gioiello said...

Maju, of course I haven' read the paper or the article and I presupposed they weren't so silly to attribute to a grand-grandson the mitochondrial of Darwin!

Maju said...

Daniel: I believe as worth knowing that Darwin was R1b as to know that Jefferson was T. Yes, it's trivia. Both are. But some people go mad about such nonsense: "hey, there's someone famous of my haplogroup". Futile madness.

Gioello: the NG link is at Dienekes' post and it's an open access letter. If you read it, you'll know it's that way. The mtDNA lineage of Darwin's great-grandson is just mentioned briefly at some paragraph towards the end.

Gioiello said...

“The result shows Darwin is part of Haplogroup K—and likely directly descended from the women who crossed the rugged Caucasus mountains in southern Russia to reach the steppes of the Black Sea”.

Like about what is said about the R1b’s path also about the K’s path I think we could discuss.

Maju said...

The sentence refers to Darwin the great-grandson, not Darwin the 19th century biologist, obviously.

I agree that what NG says about the origin of the mtDNA lineage may be totally wrong, same for R1b. In fact it looked like total nonsense to me in both cases.

David said...

I can't believe that in this day and age Dr. Wells is perfectly satisfied with finding someone Y M343 positive (R1b)and pontificating on what that means. I could have guessed this haplogroup assignment based on probability alone. The only meaningful way to ex

plore Y haplogroups is to dig deeply. R1b1bc2 - big deal. R1b1b2a1a2d3a or R-U152, L2, L20+ now that is going to provide more hints as to early ancestry as it has for me. The same with mtDNA haplogroup K. Woopie. Is it K1b2 as myself or perhaps K2a such as my Dad? All of these can at least to some degree be tied to probabilities by country rather than a sweeping "Eurasian" category with R1b and K.

It is 2010 - will Dr. Wells ever "get it" or remain stuck in 2000, and not realize that today the age of R1b in Europe is under intense scrutiny and it (actuallly the downstream M269) may well have arrived in Western Europe in the Neolithic or possibly even the Bronze Age. His adamant adherence to the past is unbecoming to a scientist of his stature.

onur said...

it (actuallly the downstream M269) may well have arrived in Western Europe in the Neolithic or possibly even the Bronze Age.

What is the source of this assertion?

Maju said...

Blind faith in molecular clock (hyper-recentist variant) I presume.

In this aspect, NG is more correct with all likelihood, though they start really ranting when they say that lineage emerged out of Africa some 45 Kya, which is obviously very much wrong.

onur said...

Blind faith in molecular clock (hyper-recentist variant) I presume.

Then what is your alternative other than aDNA extraction?

David said...

onur,

I don't think that there is enough evidence to assert anything - I don't trust the molecular clock without proper calibration (e.g., via an archaeological sample with radiocarbon dating). However the opinion of a lot of knowledgeable people on Rootsweb Genealogy - DNA List and DNA-Forums.org as well as a 2010 article by the team at Wellcome Trust led by Chris Tyler - Smith would lead one to question the Paleolithic - Mesolithic assumptions that have held sway in the academic community since 2000. Here the academics have not kept up with the hobbiests (from many disciplines) and are entrenched in a time warp. Personally I have not in the least abandoned the Paleolithic hypothesis - but apparently a majority have.

marnie said...

As to Dr. Wells: He is obviously trying to create a story in order to attract funding.

Am I missing something here? What about the other 22 chromosomes? Aren't we all mix ups of all the differerent chromosones in a population? I mean, starting with your father's mother and your mother's father, current mtDNA/Y DNA tests already have lost them.

Going back another generation, you've lost information on 6 out of 8 ancestors.

I'm all for using DNA to understand our prehistory, but trying to infer something really personal from one's mtDNA and YDNA doesn't make any sense.

The story of K and R1b (and all of R1b's non-K mistresses) will surely be an interesting one. But Dr. Wells' statements seem to be premature.

Don't know if anyone has had a look at the "Ancient clades" R1b1 tables from Cruciani, et all. put up on wiki a few days ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_R1b_(Y-DNA)

It looks fascinating, especially the results on African R1b1a.

Maju said...

I don't have a good alternative. But I don't go around pretending "I know the truth" based on "facts" that are little more than speculations. That attitude is pseudoscientific, superstitious.

Whatever the case, I demand phylogenetic rigor and archaeological consistency (where available) in making any estimates. The paper mentioned by Crimson Guard absolutely fails in both aspects. Also their choice of the pedigree rate is absolutely arbitrary, very specially when they came out with dates that are in all cases older than 5,000 years ago, which has been argued to be the lower possible limit for the use of such rates.

They could have used all that data to make better and a more detailed research paper, testing for haplogroups within R1b1b2 (notably R1b1b2a1, which is the main divide between West Asia and Europe in this haplogroup), using more serious rates and maybe finding out something about the known subhaplogroups of R1b1b2a1. However they wasted their time manipulating the data (truly gerrymandering it in very arbitrary ways) in order to find a pretense of support for their pet theory of "Neolithic origin".

I'm ok if you could find real support for such an idea but I'm absolutely opposed to ignorance of prehistory when trying to rewrite it. They could not even discern the various Neolithic spread processes, they just talked about "Neolithic" as if it was a single culture with a single undifferentiated wavefront, which is laughable. And I'm also opposed to claiming that molecular clock estimates alone prove anything. And I'm opposed to ignore the SNP-based phylogenetic structure as they did so insultingly for our intelligence.

It's an outrageous paper, really.

Maju said...

Don't know if anyone has had a look at the "Ancient clades" R1b1 tables from Cruciani, et all. put up on wiki a few days ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_R1b_(Y-DNA)

It looks fascinating, especially the results on African R1b1a
.

Actually that is incomplete. The diversity of R1b1a is maybe highest in Italy, as I discussed here and here.

This seems to result in R1b as a whole possibly originating at some point between Italy and West Asia. I'd argue for West Asia because of its centrality but Italy and to some extent also the Balcans have pretty high diversity too. The diversity in Italy is IMO quite surprisingly high for all "old clades" (but low for R1b1b2a1, which is what we basically find in West Europe and which should be dealt with in a separate manner).

marnie said...

Maju, thank you for your insightful comments regarding the Balaresque et al paper. I did read your comments on the other blog, by the way.

I would think that there have to be a number of scientific teams working on the "dates" problem, so we are just going to have to wait.

"Actually that is incomplete. The diversity of R1b1a is maybe highest in Italy, as I discussed here and here."

The table is "incomplete" if you want to look at R1b1a as a whole. Sure. Maybe true that most of R1b1a crossed into Africa from Sicily. We don't really know yet.

I'm just looking at all this data on Sub-Saharan Africa. It really captures the imagination to think of these R1b's walking across the Sahara.

It really is fun to think of all this. Reality transcends fiction, it seems.

eurologist said...

Wikipedia seems to just blindly state MC dates even if they make no sense, whatsoever. One example is R1b1b2a1a1 (R-U106), for which they essentially claim 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. However, with about 20% wide-spread distribution through much of Northern Europe, 10% at the fringes, and almost 40% in the Netherlands/NW Germany, that age makes no sense archeologically or historically, at all.

The region of maximum percentage was mostly low-value in the neolithic and was settled late, about 5,000 years ago. No one really ever was interested in taking away this land, and there are no documented large-scale movements in or out of it in the past 3,000 to 4,000 years - let alone a spread throughout Europe.

The extremely low values in Southern Europe also indicate that this group did not participate in any of the many movements of Germanic tribes to the south (i.e., it was isolated and never driven out - just slowly diffused out). An age of some time (perhaps millennia) before 5,000 years makes more sense from the real, scientific data we have...

onur said...

a 2010 article by the team at Wellcome Trust led by Chris Tyler - Smith would lead one to question the Paleolithic - Mesolithic assumptions that have held sway in the academic community since 2000

Which article do you mean? The Balaresque et al paper that Crimson Guard mentioned?

Maju said...

Wikipedia seems to just blindly state MC dates even if they make no sense, whatsoever.

Yah, Wikipedia works on sources (even if they say nonsense) and a lot depends on who writes each article, normally several people trying to improve each other's work but occasionally also pushing their agendas subtly.

I was thinking on pushing ahead a wiki on prehistory and human population genetics but it's too huge a project for myself alone.

An age of some time (perhaps millennia) before 5,000 years makes more sense from the real, scientific data we have...

For R-U106? I think so. If I understand correctly, one sublineage of this subclade is almost exclusive of England, what means to me it should be a founder effect of Epipaleolithic times.

Gioiello said...

Probably the wikipedia entry is written by Vizachero; then everything is clear. See how he has hidden the presence of R1b1* (3 over 5 over the world) in Italy: in a footnote!

terryt said...

"What about the other 22 chromosomes? Aren't we all mix ups of all the differerent chromosones in a population?"

Yes. But we're dealing with just the Y-chromosome and the mitochondrial DNA. These allow us to trace the maternal and paternal lines. They say nothing about the other ancestry. You may find my essay on the subject useful:

http://remotecentral.blogspot.com/2008/03/human-evolution-on-trial-pedigrees-by.html

"The region of maximum percentage was mostly low-value in the neolithic and was settled late, about 5,000 years ago. No one really ever was interested in taking away this land, and there are no documented large-scale movements in or out of it in the past 3,000 to 4,000 years - let alone a spread throughout Europe".

To me too that indicates a more ancient arrival than 'the Neolithic'.

waggg said...

Marnie : "I'm just looking at all this data on Sub-Saharan Africa. It really captures the imagination to think of these R1b's walking across the Sahara."

It depends when they arrived. Few milleniums ago, Sahara was not not a desert, it was a savannah (-> green sahara).

miz RAND BLOWTON said...

I'm mtDNA K1a10. Got my results back from FamilyTreeDna not to long ago-they had a sale on the test-that helps a bit. I don't know if evey mtK is wedded to a y-R1b,some of them have the I male haplogroup from Scandinavia or however you spell it.

Jim H. said...

Here is a map of where mtDNA K1a10 has been found: http://tinyurl.com/m9um22

For more information on K1a10, I can be reached at Mitosearch ID NAPC2.

mellyhamilton said...

Very insightful post - it amazes me what can be discovered nowadays. If you are interested in Darwins life in general you might enjoy his BioView by the Amazing People Club, http://www.amazingpeopleclub.com/?q=bioview/meet-charles-darwin.html
Keep up the great work!