April 14, 2010

Origin of South African Couloured population

Photo from Wikipedia article.

AJHG doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.02.014

Strong Maternal Khoisan Contribution to the South African Coloured Population: A Case of Gender-Biased Admixture

Lluis Quintana-Murci et al.


The study of recently admixed populations provides unique tools for understanding recent population dynamics, socio-cultural factors associated with the founding of emerging populations, and the genetic basis of disease by means of admixture mapping. Historical records and recent autosomal data indicate that the South African Coloured population forms a unique highly admixed population, resulting from the encounter of different peoples from Africa, Europe, and Asia. However, little is known about the mode by which this admixed population was recently founded. Here we show, through detailed phylogeographic analyses of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome variation in a large sample of South African Coloured individuals, that this population derives from at least five different parental populations (Khoisan, Bantus, Europeans, Indians, and Southeast Asians), who have differently contributed to the foundation of the South African Coloured. In addition, our analyses reveal extraordinarily unbalanced gender-specific contributions of the various population genetic components, the most striking being the massive maternal contribution of Khoisan peoples (more than 60%) and the almost negligible maternal contribution of Europeans with respect to their paternal counterparts. The overall picture of gender-biased admixture depicted in this study indicates that the modern South African Coloured population results mainly from the early encounter of European and African males with autochthonous Khoisan females of the Cape of Good Hope around 350 years ago.



Maju said...

"... results mainly from the early encounter of European and African males with autochthonous Khoisan females of the Cape of Good Hope around 350 years ago".

That is a very soft way to put things. What happened was slavery and more or less forced concubinage. "Encounter" sound horribly soft but depicting it as if the poor Khoikhoi women were lonely and waiting for the superb white Dutchmen to arrive... is pretty much outrageous.

Dragon Horse said...

Afrikaners may have been absorbed if it was not for the importation of European women, soon after which there was a legal ban on interracial sex. Maybe they would have been like the Basters (Bastards) of Nambia, but that early on I doubt it.

Pieter Hintjens said...

@Maju, is this not a fairly standard pattern for aggressive immigration: kill the males, take the females? Especially when immigration is difficult and essentially restricted to males. I recall that Finland is similar: male immigrants who adopted the autochthonous language but over time came to resemble other Scandinavians.

Maju said...

Actually I don't think that they "killed" the males... at least not directly. They enslaved all them and used the women, creating a new caste of mestizos, largely acculturated to the invaders' values. Not really different from what happened in Latin America, where the mestizo caste became the backbone of the Spanish and Portuguese empires and the latter independent states.

In fact the use of that fancy word "encounter", precisely the official word promoted by Spain in 1992, to "celebrate" the 500 anniversary of the beginning of the American genocide was one of the reasons for my outrage.

I would not describe meeting Jack the Ripper at a dark alley as an "encounter", really.

But in any case you cannot minimize it nor justify it. It's against all Humanist values.

"I recall that Finland is similar: male immigrants who adopted the autochthonous language but over time came to resemble other Scandinavians".

Surely the Finnic case(not just Finnish but including all European Finno-Ugric populations) is pretty different. We can't really know the details (no written records from that date) but it's likely that the admixture process was more gradual and spontaneous and certainly it did not happen in a context of slavery of the natives, as in fact the way of life of traditional reindeer herders of Far North Europe does not allow for such a socio-economic complexity.

The case is more likely to have been a quite localized founder effect (or series of founder effects) in a region of extremely low population with highly specialized economy transmitted by patrilineages.

terryt said...

"it's likely that the admixture process was more gradual and spontaneous"

But a 'gradual and spontaneous' process can still lead to a change in haplotype proportions, as Dienekes is constantly reminding us. New arrivals, with new technology, could quite easily replace resident haplogroups, even in prehistoric times. For example it seems quite likely that Y-hap K has been largely replaced in SE Asia to the west of Wallace's line by the expansion of various Y-hap Os. And before then the expansion of various Y-hap Ks had greatly reduced the proportion of Y-hap Cs in SE Asia.

Maju said...

You're going off topic. What you say can easily be explained by drift, at least partly. Of course it's also possible that there was some sort of "demic struggle" (i.e. some groups were able to put more pressure causing others to migrate or be absorbed) but we are in all cases talking of very small hunter-gatherer density levels, a very different case from the clearly Neolithic/Iron Age Khoikhoi, who had anyhow nowhere to retreat.

It's more similar to the colonization of Mexico or Peru.

terryt said...

It's hardly 'off topic'. We're discussing replacement of Y-chromosomes surely. 'The present is the key to the past', as they say in geology.

miz RAND BLOWTON said...

Maybe mixed-raced people find other mixed-race people attractive?
But they may may not find enough of them to date since mixed-race people don't have large population sizes like other/ or pure races do.
As for the colureds,maybe they were forced and if not maybe they'd accept a foreign male if one appears.