While most of our samples possessed mtDNA haplotypes that can be linked to European and Near Eastern populations, three Neolithic and all three Bronze Age individuals belonged to mtDNA haplogroup C, which is common in East Eurasian, particularly South Siberian, populations but exceedingly rare in Europe. Phylogeographic network analysis revealed that our samples are located at or near the ancestral node for haplogroup C and that derived lineages branching from the Neolithic samples were present in Bronze Age Kurgans. In light of the numerous examples of mtDNA admixture that can be found in both Europe and Siberia, it appears that the NPR and South Siberia are located at opposite ends of a genetic continuum established at some point prior to the Neolithic. This migration corridor may have been established during the Last Glacial Maximum due to extensive glaciation in northern Eurasia and a consequent aridization of western Asia. This implies the demographic history for the European gene pool is more complex than previously considered and also has significant implications regarding the origin of Kurgan populations.Unfortunately the thesis is under embargo until next year. We'll have to wait and see whether this research stands up to closer scrutiny by ancient DNA experts. The detection of a haplogroup that is quite rare in Europe today makes it difficult to envision a scenario in which contamination may have produced a spurious result, however.
The Dnieper-Donets population was described as robust Europeoid by Soviet anthropologists as was the Andronovo/Afanasevo tradition further east. It is interesting that Mongoloid admixture has been detected in both groups. I would not have guessed that this would have extended that far west and south. It seems that M. G. Levin may have been right when he stated that the Mongoloid elements penetrated far into eastern Europe.
It will certainly be interesting to discover how the Mongoloid component in the gene pool of the Northern Pontic steppe became diluted until the present. James Mallory argued at great length in a recent talk about the impossibility of Balkan influences on the steppe. I would bet that there were influences from the both the Balkans and the Caucasus, as well as the Transcaspian arrival of Iranic speakers in the 1st millennium BC, ultimately from their Bactria-Margiana source.
On the Origin of Mongoloid Component in the Mitochondrial Gene Pool of Slavs, B. A. Malyarchuk, M. A. Perkova, and M. V. Derenko (pdf)
Concerning the population of Eastern Europe, it should be noted that the forest zone of Eastern Europe was the area of intense population admixture . It seems likely, that formation of the complex of Mongoloid traits happened not later than in Upper Paleolithic. For this reason, it is suggested that East Siberian populations could have much time for migration to Eastern Europe . The number of such migrations still remains unclear, since in the northwest of Eastern Europe Mongoloid component is detected 10000–8000 years ago; in Dnepr–Donetsk tribes, 7000–6000 years ago, and on the territory of Ivanovo oblast (Sakhtysh), 6000–5000 years ago [35, 36].
It seems, once again, that physical anthropology and genetics are consistent with each other.