DNA Study Sheds More Light on Europeans' Ancestry

Archeologists have reconstructed the early history of Europe for centuries by sifting through ancient settlements and analyzing artifacts left behind by their inhabitants. This has proven helpful, but recently researchers were able to scrutinize data that revealed far more than kitchen utensils, swords and chariots ever reveal. This data was DNA. 

A team from Howard University as well as a team from the University of Copenhagen presented a study within the Nature Communications Journal this past Wednesday that indicated that DNA extracted from the skeletons of 170 ancient Europeans that had been found from Spain to Russia. Both studies that were conducted claim that the Europeans of the present are descendants of a trio of groups that moved to Europe during varied stages throughout history. 

The first group was composed of gatherers and hunters that most likely arrived an estimated 45,000 years ago. They were followed by, approximately 8,000 years ago, by farmers that hailed from the Near East. The last of the trio arrived an estimated 4,500 years ago were nomadic sheepherders (Yamnaya) from the western region of Russia.

The listed branches of the European genetic tree were fairly young, which lead the teams to believe that most of the modern populations began to settle after the expansion of farming during the Neolithic era. However, it remains unclear as to precisely when the fathers of the paternal lineages were or even if they were born in Europe at all. The collective scientists of the studies seem to believe that they were powerful and influential men. This is due to the fact that people of power were more prone to wide travel as well as father greater numbers of children as opposed to their subjects. This resulted in their lineages becoming far more dominant.

The studies strongly suggest that the language of the Yamnaya could have very well been the basis for a number of the languages spoken today within Europe. Both of the teams worked independently, analyzing the various skeletons while utilizing methods different than those used to analyze the DNA. 

The Harvard University team analyzed the DNA of 69 remains that dated back to more than an estimated 8,000 years. The team was able to catalog genetic variations of near 400,000 varied points. The Copenhagen team was able to collect DNA from greater than 101 varied skeletons dating back more than 3,400 years. They were additionally sequence all of the genomes from the large sample. 

This study agrees with another recent study which found that the majority of Europeans have descended from just 3 men.

In that study, the analyzed DNA sequences were garnered from 334 European men from 17 varied Middle Eastern and European populations of the modern age. The teams focused on large portions of the Y-chromosome that had been exclusively passed from fathers onto sons. This is the large sample that was used in comparison with the DNA of each population as a measure of tracing their key mutations within the genomes. This is how the scientists were able to arrive at their current timeline and more. 

The teams compared the sequence DNA that were found to genes that were retrieved from other ancient Europeans and Asians as well as to humans that are currently alive. It has been reported that the scientists involved in the duo of studies plan to continue. This is due to the belief that continued research will assist in the gaining of a deeper understanding of the trio identified their paternal lineages across the continent. 

Comments

Dagwood

 San Diego June 11, 2015

"How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed.' Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' " --Carl Sagan

brupic

nara/greensville June 11, 2015

love that modern science and technology are unlocking our genetic journey. also, whenever I read stories about the age of our species, I always think it must be annoying to the born again crowd--so prevalent in the usa--that believes the universe is 6000 years old.

Joe

Sausalito June 11, 2015

Fascinating! But, our present condition and national discourse must intrude.
Will the news of these exciting discoveries be permitted into the evangelical red state schools? Or, for that matter, into the vocabulary of the GOP?

How does a parent, mentor, or teacher who believes the earth is 6,000 years old reconcile this to a student who aspires to go to university?

"Well. . .yes. . .there's science and that DNA thing, but we prefer our scripture. It's not fact-based, but it is poetic."

Tim B

 Seattle June 11, 2015

'There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.'
 
~ Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

And what a remarkable journey our species has taken, from our branching off from a common ancestor with chimpanzees 5-7 million years ago, to archaic ancestors who made tools and learned to harness fire, to those ancestors without whom, through their struggles and their lives, not one of us would be here.

Bondosan

Crab Key June 11, 2015

My family was part of the original hunter-gatherers. We didn't realize it at the time, but it was pretty much paradise. Yeah, it was a little cold sometimes, but there was a lot of game, and the berries and nuts were delicious, nutritious, and organic. We got plenty of exercise, and many nights, we would sleep under the stars.

Then the farmers arrived with their crazy language and their seeds and they kind of ruined the neighborhood. They just hung around, waiting for things to grow. They drove us nuts, but we got used to them. In fact, I fell in love with the daughter of one of the farming families and, well, I pretty much gave up my nomadic lifestyle (sometimes, I still hunt and gather a bit, but don't tell my wife!).

Then, the sheep herders arrived. Oy. The noise. The smell. The shearing.

I'm packing up my family and moving. I've heard there are some interesting islands off the Western coast of Gaul.

raven55

Washington DC June 11, 2015

This conforms to results I received from being part of National Geographic's Genographic project. Up to 25% of my DNA comes through Western Asia with another blood haplogroup coming from what is today Ukraine, with a solid 2-3% Neanderthal line as well.

Soon I will be writing a letter to President Putin informing him that despite his claims to the contrary, Crimea really belongs to me.

PJ

Colorado June 11, 2015

Great work, but I wonder how many people are capable of grasping the concept of people migrating across thousands of miles, over thousands of years, and in the process building the foundation of what we have today?

I've been working on the family history for many years and even within a time span measured in hundreds, rather than thousands of years, I'm always amazed at the number of people who don't understand the context of their ancestors' lives. For example, that many of their ancestors were illiterate, and that English is a modern language in the overall scheme of things.

I'm sometimes reminded of a story I heard years ago, about a school district somewhere in the south that was debating whether to teach French in their schools. One of the audience allegedly stood up and said "If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me!".

Josh Hill

 New London, Conn. June 11, 2015

Joe, I don't think you understand how science works. Scientists create hypotheses based on partial evidence. Then experiment and observation refute or support the hypotheses. The general public frequently misunderstands the difference between scientific hunches and well-verified theories, and the fact that science is a process that is more complex and sophisticated than the simplified "let's do an experiment" version that they learned about in high school.

An example of this process would be the debate between scientists who believed that Neanderthals were a separate species, and that they were a variant of our own. The question was settled with a high degree of probability when it became possible to sequence Neadnerthal and human DNA, and it became apparent that they were separate species that had inerbred, so that modern Europeans have a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA.

Paul Dresman

Eugene, Oregon June 11, 2015

Really wonderful news that complicates even further our amazingly complex human tableau, east, west, north, south: we're a beautiful complication of everyone from redheaded Neanderthals to Yamnaya-Indo shepherds bringing a collage of stones, tools, words, colorful swirls. By campfires, we must have told the tale of the day, and danced, and sang, and dreamed a better way. It's epic.
If only humans could celebrate ourselves and our indelible traditions in nature and forget the wars. If only...

DRG

London June 11, 2015

What a fascinating article. I hope, as we continue to learn about the pre-historic movements of people, that it erodes cultural beliefs and prejudices that anyone is "native", or genetically superior, or that any culture is 'timeless.' We may chose for practical or economic reasons to draw borders and include or exclude people, but let's not kid ourselves into thinking they are based on anything god-given or ancient.

Michael

Carlsbad, CA June 11, 2015

Can we please not engage in fruitless conversations about God when we are using completely different frames of reference. The frame of reference in these research studies is an attempt to use factual physical evidence to discern the pattern of migration over the last many thousands of years in one part of the world. Within their own frame of reference, these studies are worthy of much conversation. Outside that realm, in a debate about subjective "truth" and of faith, there is little to be said. There are plenty of other venues where we can ridicule and taunt each other to reinforce our own beliefs. Go there if that is what you want to do. Most of us are here to learn from others within the context of the frame of reference of these studies. Also, when someone makes a comment that displays simple ignorance combined with curiosity, rather than a different frame of reference, one should not put them down. The fact that they are here and reading the comments means this is a person that can be informed by other readers. These are the comments that deserve a polite and educated response.

BeauEvil

Dixie 764 June 11, 2015

I find it odd that there was no mention at all about the relevant time frame. They have the first group, hunter-gathers, arriving 45k ago DURING the Last Glacial Period which ended about 12k ago. Farming wasn't even possible until the ice and permafrost retreated! So, farmers followed retreating glaciers taking advantage of abundant water and cleared land.

Judith

Chicago 073:571 June 11, 2015

I love it, too. But, unfortunately, where religious belief is regarded as having greater validity than scientific evidence, no amount of evidence will change people's minds. They just disbelieve the evidence or ignore it. I used to think that as science developed and people became better educated this would change. But the intensity of curriculum battles in certain states has convinced me that the more science reveals, the more passionately religious believers defend Biblical "truth". When I think about it I can't help being reminded of the revival of literal interpretations of the Koran throughout much of the Arab world. All brands of fervent religious literalists are depressing, and potentially dangerous. Science is exciting but only to those who don't feel theatened by it.

epistemology

619 June 11, 2015

When Vladimir Putin hears of the Yamnaya, he will use it as an excuse to take the rest of Europe.

 

Linda

New York 119:385 June 11, 2015

Every time there is a new scientific finding or theory, the red herring of creationism pops up, with the ugly effect of muting debate and reducing depth of understanding of science within popular culture; instead of healthy debate, we get a simple dichotomy: "us" (the enlightened, rational, scientific folks) vs "them" (the pitiful creationists). The amazing findings reported here underscore just how little we've known up to now, and how little we now know, and surely will be debated and revised. Science is exploration, a messy business.

Bruce Rozenblit

Kansas City 285 June 11, 2015

If I'm not mistaken, a recent special on PBS revealed that genetic testing indicates that Europe was initially populated by modern humans from somewhere just north of Iran. These are steppe people which must then be the population referred to as migrating 45,000 years ago. The second wave at 8,000 years ago came from Turkey. Then the last wave, the Yamnaya came 4,500 years ago from a location near the first wave. Through 40,000 years of cultural and physical evolution, a different people emerged from the same location as the first wave, intermingled and changed the continent's population.

Three waves of people populated Europe from the same general area. Today, we view these original locations as alien. See how powerful culture is in creating divisions between family members.

Kirk

Sioux Falls 073:5852 June 11, 2015

Agriculture, writing, science came about 6,000 years ago? Where did you come up with this and why didn't you check this assumption?

Agriculture - the Fertile Crescent of Western Asia first saw the domestication of animals between13,000 and 10,000 years ago. There is evidence of cultivation of figs in the Jordan Valley 11,300 years ago. And domestication of plants happened 9,000 years ago in Syria, China, Africa and South America.

Writing - The Dispilio Tablet from Greece and Tărtăria tablets from Romania existed in the 6th millennium BC, thus more than 8,000 years ago.

Science - the earliest example of science is Pythagoras' law which was recorded in the 18th century BC on the Mesopotamian cuneiform tablet Plimpton 322. Thus science - the existence of a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe - did not exist in any form 6,000 years ago.

Thus your belief that there was an explosion of events in agriculture, writing and science that coincides with the Biblical account of creation 6,000 years ago is total nonsense. All of these facts can be easily checked, but you didn't bother to verify any of them. Why not? Why didn't you check your facts before you denigrated others?

Josh Hill

 New London, Conn. 617:5260 June 11, 2015

Man, could you possibly be more PC? There's research on Asian and African genetics as well. This study was about the population of Europe.

Nicolas Dupre

Quebec City, Canada 5742 June 11, 2015

It comforts me that science destroys the notions of national identities by showing how close and diverse our genetic heritage is. In the end, it is worth building societies only to share common values. Admixture is the norm, not the exception...

doug mclaren

seattle 350 June 11, 2015

Another piece of the puzzle lies underneath the Black Sea, along the pre-inundation shoreline several hundred feet below the current sea level, where vestiges of ancient settlements have been detected by submersibles and sonar. Someone will eventually bring back skeletal remains from the submerged graves on opposing sides of the sea which will yield the DNA of civilizations that were displaced by rising sea waters ~ 10K years ago.

Fred L

south texas 556 June 11, 2015

Really enjoyed this article. Particularly the information about the Yamnaya, which I had never heard of, and the possibility that most European languages are derived from theirs. I have always thought that the study of ancient languages would describe the movements of the earliest humans, but it turns out DNA is telling the story first! Fantastic!

Peppone

massachusetts 5203 June 11, 2015

What a great article and what a great study! It gives us immense perspective on how minuscule our concepts of country and people are, when compared to the continuous mingling of families, tribes, cultures, maybe species that has taken us to this precise moment in time. We should pause.

Ruth

nys 5766:6068 June 11, 2015

they were very fashionable, and may well have looked quite gorgeous. they wore madras plaids and denim for most all occasions; for very special quasi-religious occasions they wore draping gold lamé shifts and gowns. this is the best guess based on current evidence.

Ruth

nys 6233 June 11, 2015

The DNA roots of modern Europeans is a matter of ineffable wonder. This article made my eyes leak a bit, leak for joy. I look forward to hunting up the "official scientific" articles and hopefully the future book.
I read almost 25 yrs ago J P Mallory's **In Search of the Indo-Europeans / Language, Archeology, and Myth** [London: Thames and Hudson, 1989 / 1991 paperback]. It is definitely a mind-bending, joy-making review-type account of all the archeology done up to that point in time. hmm. I didn't know, I had absolutely NO idea of what my personal history was until I read that book. Although more recent archeology may have added to and/or modified and/or altered some of it findings, it seems to be still on track. Read it; you will rejoice.

Bob Wyman

New York, NY 119:568 June 11, 2015

God seems to have spent a great deal of effort on making the world appear to be much older than 6,000 years old. It seems to me that he wouldn't have done this if he didn't want us to believe that the world was older than 6,000 years... Those who reject the evidence in nature would appear to be rejecting the work of the God they claim to love...

Charles Justice

Prince Rupert, BC 5007 June 11, 2015

I think the Neandrathals were in Europe longer than anybody else, from one hundred thousand to thirty-five thousand. Probably the first wave of homo sapiens from forty-five thousand years on left their mark on the Etruscan and Basque languages which are not related to the Indo-european.

Mark Caponigro

NYC 646 June 11, 2015

Yes, Paul Heggarty's comments make the most sense to me: the Near Eastern population element is the foundation. It should be noted that a strong argument can be made for an original affinity between proto-Indo-European and the Semitic family.

Anyway, the subject is absolutely fascinating. As a classicist, I would love to know who were the first people to worship Zeus and Hestia, and who were the inventors of the dactylic hexameter.

expatindian

US 119:873 June 11, 2015

Not to sound holier than thou, but Hinduism does acknowledge the sheer beauty and complexity of our universe, instead of a "litte god". Even Carl Sagan acknowledged that. Don't tar all with the same brush:-)

Larry

Fresno, California 15196350 June 12, 2015

I am reminded that our Federal government has "returned" thousands of skeletons of persons thought to be ancient Native Americans for burial without DNA examination of same, all out of respect for religious (which is to say non-scientific) sentiments. The same careful DNA studies being done of old skeletons in Europe should be done of old skeletons found in the USA (and everywhere else, for that matter). The amazing story of human migration is still hiding in DNA puzzle pieces waiting to be analyzed.

Ensconced In Velvet

Down Ol' Mejico Way 433 June 11, 2015

If you are interested in the history of the proto-Indo-European language, its descendants, and English in particular, I highly recommend 'The History of English Podcast' that can be found on iTunes. The first ten episodes focus on the origins of proto-Indo-European. The reconstructed vocabulary of proto-Indo-European gives hints as to how and where these people lived. The podcasts are very interesting and informative. So far there are 63 episodes and they average about 50 minutes each. It is a big commitment, but well worth it. I am currently working through them during my time in the kitchen every night. Enjoy!

NYT Pick

Eric

Sacramento, CA 15198885 June 12, 2015

It will be great when this new information is woven into the National Genographic Project and 23andme (etc.)

It is so exciting. I feel like a kid hearing a bedtime story! And the story keeps going.

mightythor

philly 9850:15195028 June 12, 2015

It is possible through the miracle of semantics. We are talking about two different things. You randomly inherited one of the two copies (alleles) of each gene that your father possessed, and so did your brother. Because of the randomness of allelic assortment, the two of you share 25% of the alleles that you inherited from your father. You also share 25% of the alleles that you inherited from your mother, so that the two of you share 50% of your alleles. At the level of allelic inheritance, you are 50% identical to your brother -- hence the commonplace statement that you are 50% genetically similar. HOWEVER, at most genetic loci, the two alleles that each of your parents possessed (four alleles in all) are identical to one another over most of their DNA sequence, differing in AT MOST 1 base out of a thousand. Hence, at the DNA sequence level, you and your brother are at least 99.95% identical (and probably much greater). The statement that chimps and humans are 99% identical refers to a base-by-base comparison of our DNA sequences. Apples and Orangutans.

Dan Stackhouse

NYC 119:411 June 11, 2015

Carl Sagan is quite right. Consider that a God or Gods may have created this universe by carefully calibrating a certain amount of raw energy, releasing it in a tremendous explosion, and crafting rules (that we don't yet fully understand) that would cause that energy to become matter, then living beings, then intelligence, all the way up from gluons to us and beyond. That's a heck of a lot more impressive than taking a lump of mud and blowing on it and magically making it alive.

Elizabeth Renant

New Mexico 119:336 June 11, 2015

No, the real question is, will it be permitted to intrude into the passionate insistence of the liberal sociologists who have for decades suppressed by sheer volume and screams of racism evidence that genetics do play some part in race?

A few days ago I saw a news report on the BBC claiming that although the Japanese thought of themselves as genetically distinct, they were actually a "hotch potch" - the "hotch potch" the reporter mentioned consisted of Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese - in other words, other Asians who are in fact very close to the Japanese genetically, but even among whom small genetic differences can be identified.

The reporter, exhibiting the current sociological mantra and shoddy equivalencies that seep into the atmosphere as revealed truth, used this Asian "hotch potch" that really isn't one at all, as an equivalence to the ethnicity of the new Miss Japan, who is in fact truly biracial: black/Asian, and encountering quite a bit of prejudice in her country.

There is no excuse for the prejudice expressed toward the enchanting new Miss Japan; but there is also no excuse for shoddy equivalencies that deny science in service to political correctness.

poslug

cambridge, ma 15197438 June 12, 2015

Rivers and population remains dating/distribution would be interesting here. The Danube presented a considerable barrier in the Roman era to Western migrations (including wagons, large familial groups, some stock). Did these early movements with massive sheep flocks move South (i.e. to Greece) via the Danube delta (Black Sea creation from the Bosporus breach was pre 9,000 years ago?), then West and then south moving rivers in today's Bulgaria/Serbia? I would love to see more on the distribution and dating of the remains used for DNA sampling. A map of sites used please.

Paul

Pacific Palisades, CA 5921 June 11, 2015

Seems like more peaceful co-existence reigned among less evolved Homo Sapiens? Took culture and religion to make us the killers we continue to be.

Josh Hill

 New London, Conn. 692:5248 June 11, 2015

This makes no sense! Indo-Europeean is the ancient mother tongue of both the Sanskrit-derived languages and English, and English spelling is based on the phonetic English pronunciations of a few hundred years ago.

Jeff

Placerville, California 6377:15191067 June 11, 2015

I disagree. The study was of a certain group of remains. Nothing in it denies the probable origin of the human species in Africa.

Rob

Bellevue, WA 6215 June 11, 2015

This is fascinating. I'm amazed how we can decipher mass migration over millennia from DNA evidence.

Query

 West 402:5195 June 11, 2015

The genes are physical objects collected from physical locations that have physical evidence of physical artifacts that have physical time clocks.

Duh.

B

US 119:265 June 11, 2015

Hmm. I was thinking that these lines are a nice fact-based complement to the poetic story of Cain and Abel:

"Until about 9,000 years ago, Europe was home to a genetically distinct population of hunter-gatherers, the researchers found. Then, between 9,000 and 7,000 years ago, the genetic profiles of the inhabitants in some parts of Europe abruptly changed, acquiring DNA from Near Eastern populations."

From Wikipedia:
"Modern scholars typically view the stories of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel to be about the development of civilization during the age of agriculture; not the beginnings of man, but when people first learned agriculture, replacing the ways of the hunter-gatherer."

jimbo

seattle 073:6257 June 11, 2015

If the universe was created, say, ten thousand years, we would see nothing in the sky farther away than ten thousand light years. As a matter of fact, we have detected objects farther than ten billion light years away. The Bible was largely created by illiterate herdsmen about five thousand years ago, and should not be treated as a physics textbook.

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Bondosan

Crab Key 712:5755 June 11, 2015

Really? The Bible predicted that Germany will lead the EU?

Who knew?

  • In Reply to Innocent

Steve Sailer

America 386:806 June 11, 2015

"I had not heard previously about Yamnaya people moving into Europe - that seems entirely new."

Actually, you have heard of them. They used to be called Aryans.

  • In Reply to Bill

RDeanB

 Amherst, MA 482 June 11, 2015

A fascinating story of ancient globalization and genetic and cultural mixing, apparently peacefully. What once took a few thousand years through a process of foot and horse, and wary co-existence, now takes place much more quickly through airplanes and social media.

Historic Home Plans

Oregon 15196321 June 12, 2015

This is an interesting and worthwhile addition to a long and complex pre-history. This is not the whole story. We tend to look for "narratives" in the world around us. But consider the time frames involved. Only 5000 years separates us from the builders of the Egyptian pyramids. So much could have happened in the 45,000 years they are talking about, so much that we have not yet uncovered.
Now consider the following... Possibly the earliest evidence of the use of fire for cooking was found in a cave in France called Menez Dregan. This evidence possibly dates as far back as 450,000 years. That is 10 TIMES farther back than the hunter gatherers referred to in this article... 90 TIMES further back than the builders of the pyramids.
Might entire civilizations have risen, fallen and disappeared into dust in that time frame? Think of our own modern world. 100,000 years from now how much evidence will there be that we ever existed? Aside from perhaps a few sites of nuclear contamination I doubt there will be much. It would be a very lucky archeologist indeed who finds the evidence.
DNA comparisons may reveal connections. But it will take a lot more samples, continuous over the time frames involved, to trace a complete narrative.

Jennifer McCoullogh

Montana 15191246:15192888 June 11, 2015

Ladislav Nemec, please don't devalue Mr. Matter's articles. I find that he manages to merge traditional science and popular science in a way that satisfies both sides. I would call him more than "a generalist."

  • In Reply to Ladislav Nemec

Jennifer McCoullogh

Montana 15192846 June 11, 2015

I am not Jennifer, but this website will not accept my comment under the registered name. Well, here it goes : The article states : "The eastward expansion of Yamnaya, evident in the genetic findings, also supports the theory, Dr. Willerslev said. Linguists have long puzzled over an Indo-European language once spoken in western China called Tocharian. It is only known from 1,200-year-old manuscripts discovered in ancient desert towns. It is possible that Tocharian was a vestige of the eastern spread of the Yamnaya."
Would it then be possible that the ancient settlements in Thailand called Baan Mai were made by Yamnaya ? The skeletons unearthed there are not Asian.

Larry Lundgren

Linköping, Sweden 6404 June 11, 2015

One measure of the importance of each new study like this is the extent to which it leads to discussion, both within the scientific community and the quite different NYT Comment community. In addition, a measure of the degree to which I become interested in the comments is the extent to which they reveal American beliefs about “race”.

I read every such article/report in a context provided by a now 11 year-old paper by David Serre and the giant in this field, Svante Pääbo: Evidence for Gradients of Human Genetic Diversity Within and Among Continents (free pdf readily available).

Here in this article we read about “genetically distinct” populations and we read that the scientists and Carl Zimmer find it easy to speak of “today’s Europeans” not meaning all of us but only of a carefully bounded sub-group of today’s Europeans.

Take a look if you can at comments by Nicolas Dupre, Peppone, Roseberry, Paul Dresman, Mark Thomason and certainly more to come. All of these raise that question that I raise every other day here in Times Comment Land: “If every such study shows that mixing steadily goes on between any two “distinct groups” brought into contact, how can Americans believe that the American black “race” is distinct from the American white “race”?”

Thanks Carl Zimmer, researchers, and commenters. Questions?

Stan Continople

Brooklyn 6054 June 11, 2015

Is it possible to use the DNA of animals found in these sites to aid with the hypothesis? Over time, herders and farmers in isolated regions must have left their fingerprints on the particular species they were husbanding, which could probably only breed among themselves. If these people migrated, they would have brought their unique breeds with them.

DM

Hawai'i 073:5802 June 11, 2015

Unfortunately, your chronology is wrong. Any prehistory text will give you the correct dates, and they aren't the ones you're using.

There was no such synchronization 6,000 years ago, no matter how much you may wish (or have been told) there was.

It's just not so. What else can be said?

  • In Reply to brupic

EBurgett

US/Asia 5405 June 11, 2015

Many thanks for this article! It is entirely possible that both the Middle Eastern farmers and the Yamnaya people spoke an Indo-european language. Ancient Greek is its own branch on the Indo-european family tree, just like the oldest attested Indo-european languages of Anatolia (Hittite and Luwian). It is entirely possible that the Greeks were originally an Anatolian people, who didn't develop writing until the Mycenaean period.

Conversely, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Slavic and Tocharian languages are traditionally believed to have come off the same stem. Maybe the Yamnaya culture was this stem. Still, it is important to note that DNA and language don't closely map. Most English-speakers today don't have Anglo-Saxon ancestors, whereas most Danes and Northern Germans do. There are probably just as many Danish and German speakers who genetically match the early English as there are English speakers.

Bill

Ithaca, NY 386 June 11, 2015

Seemed to me that we already knew that people accompanied the spread of farming into Europe through various other means - although this undoubtedly clarifies the picture. I had not heard previously about Yamnaya people moving into Europe - that seems entirely new.
 

Fascinating, certainly, especially when we remember that these peoples are also the ancestors of most Americans.

In the end, there seems to be no limit to what we can find out through science.

fred s.

chicago 9850:15192348 June 11, 2015

I think that you are mistaken. Not sure why you think you are only 50% similar to your brother, but having 23 chromosomes-and having those carry genetic info-like having a pancreas and a liver, etc-but no tail or fur, etc. (I am making certain assumptions), makes me think you are likely 99.9% similar to your brother-you are just better looking.

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ctn29798

Wentworth, WI 9159 June 11, 2015

I stumbled on this article quite by chance, thought the title looked moderately interesting, read it, and now I have moved a little farther along the evolutionary ruler. I'm guessing that's how evolution works: a little knowledge that, bit by bit, germinates, grows, flowers, mutates, either lasts or doesn't.

I love learning.

Steve M

Doylestown, PA 7344 June 11, 2015

It would be enlightening to relate the DNA evidence of migrations to climatological evidence. The last great ice age ended about 10 or 12 thousand years ago. Presumably most of the Northern hemisphere was barely habitable, except by mammoth hunters, before the melting of the glaciers. The 9,000 year ago migrations must have been facilitated by climate change. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned that are applicable to today's debates about fossil fuel exploitation and global warming.

Colenso

Cairns 785:6374 June 11, 2015

Josh, the orthodox definition of a species in zoology is that if species A interbreeds with species B, usually any offspring of A and B will be infertile.

An example of this infertility is the mule, the usually infertile offspring of a jack (male donkey) and a mare (female horse). (No male mules are fertile, but rarely some female mules (so-called 'Molly mules') will produce offspring when mated with a male horse or donkey). Hence, the horse and the donkey qualify as separate species.

As far as we know, it is not the case that the offspring of Neanderthals and so-called modern humans usually were infertile. Rather, it seems that usually offspring were fertile. Ergo, applying the rule above, Neanderthals and modern humans do not qualify as separate species. Rather, both are subspecies of the same species whom Linnaeus named with the binomial of 'Homo sapiens'. Adopting the customary trinomial used for naming subspecies, modern humans are thus 'Homo sapiens sapiens' [1], while Neanderthals are 'Homo sapiens neanderthalensis' [2].

1) Semino, Ornella, et al. " the="" genetic="" legacy="" of="" paleolithic="" homo="" sapiens="" in="" extant="" europeans:="" ay="" chromosome="" perspective."="" science="" 290.5494="" (2000):="" 1155-1159.=""

Unfortunately, your chronology is wrong. Any prehistory text will give you the correct dates, and they aren't the ones you're using.

There was no such synchronization 6,000 years ago, no matter how much you may wish (or have been told) there was.

It's just not so. What else can be said?

  • In Reply to brupic

EBurgett

US/Asia 5405 June 11, 2015

Many thanks for this article! It is entirely possible that both the Middle Eastern farmers and the Yamnaya people spoke an Indo-european language. Ancient Greek is its own branch on the Indo-european family tree, just like the oldest attested Indo-european languages of Anatolia (Hittite and Luwian). It is entirely possible that the Greeks were originally an Anatolian people, who didn't develop writing until the Mycenaean period.

Conversely, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Slavic and Tocharian languages are traditionally believed to have come off the same stem. Maybe the Yamnaya culture was this stem. Still, it is important to note that DNA and language don't closely map. Most English-speakers today don't have Anglo-Saxon ancestors, whereas most Danes and Northern Germans do. There are probably just as many Danish and German speakers who genetically match the early English as there are English speakers.

Bill

Ithaca, NY 386 June 11, 2015

Seemed to me that we already knew that people accompanied the spread of farming into Europe through various other means - although this undoubtedly clarifies the picture. I had not heard previously about Yamnaya people moving into Europe - that seems entirely new.
 

Fascinating, certainly, especially when we remember that these peoples are also the ancestors of most Americans.

In the end, there seems to be no limit to what we can find out through science.

fred s.

chicago 9850:15192348 June 11, 2015

I think that you are mistaken. Not sure why you think you are only 50% similar to your brother, but having 23 chromosomes-and having those carry genetic info-like having a pancreas and a liver, etc-but no tail or fur, etc. (I am making certain assumptions), makes me think you are likely 99.9% similar to your brother-you are just better looking.

  • In Reply to pete

ctn29798

Wentworth, WI 9159 June 11, 2015

I stumbled on this article quite by chance, thought the title looked moderately interesting, read it, and now I have moved a little farther along the evolutionary ruler. I'm guessing that's how evolution works: a little knowledge that, bit by bit, germinates, grows, flowers, mutates, either lasts or doesn't.

I love learning.

Steve M

Doylestown, PA 7344 June 11, 2015

It would be enlightening to relate the DNA evidence of migrations to climatological evidence. The last great ice age ended about 10 or 12 thousand years ago. Presumably most of the Northern hemisphere was barely habitable, except by mammoth hunters, before the melting of the glaciers. The 9,000 year ago migrations must have been facilitated by climate change. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned that are applicable to today's debates about fossil fuel exploitation and global warming.

Colenso

Cairns 785:6374 June 11, 2015

Josh, the orthodox definition of a species in zoology is that if species A interbreeds with species B, usually any offspring of A and B will be infertile.

An example of this infertility is the mule, the usually infertile offspring of a jack (male donkey) and a mare (female horse). (No male mules are fertile, but rarely some female mules (so-called 'Molly mules') will produce offspring when mated with a male horse or donkey). Hence, the horse and the donkey qualify as separate species.

As far as we know, it is not the case that the offspring of Neanderthals and so-called modern humans usually were infertile. Rather, it seems that usually offspring were fertile. Ergo, applying the rule above, Neanderthals and modern humans do not qualify as separate species. Rather, both are subspecies of the same species whom Linnaeus named with the binomial of 'Homo sapiens'. Adopting the customary trinomial used for naming subspecies, modern humans are thus 'Homo sapiens sapiens' [1], while Neanderthals are 'Homo sapiens neanderthalensis' [2].

1) Semino, Ornella, et al. " the="" genetic="" legacy="" of="" paleolithic="" homo="" sapiens="" in="" extant="" europeans:="" ay="" chromosome="" perspective."="" science="" 290.5494="" (2000):="" 1155-1159.=""

Paul

New York 6304:15191064 June 11, 2015

When DNA mutates, this is what gives us different lineages of DNA. If one was to look up ´Population Genetics´, they would see ´haplogroups´ mentioned. These haplogroups are groups of lineages that have a common and exclusive DNA mutation. To determine what haplogroup someone is, their DNA is analysed for ´marker´ mutations. These are mutations that everyone with R1b carries, but are exclusive to that group. You and me, everybody has a marker mutation from a man who lived in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago. But as time has gone by, humans have aqcuired ´extra´ markers that define our haplogroup.

To simplify (I hope!) using colours as genetic mutations

-The first people have ´blue´ as their defining mutation. They only have this. We will look back at this DNA 1000´s of years later and define this as the baseline for humans. This is haplogroup A.
-One man with Haplogroup A has a mutation in his DNA, which gives him ´green´ to add to the ´blue´. Because he has this new mutation, he becomes Haplogroup B
-One of this man´s descendants has a mutation in his DNA. He was born with ´blue´ and ´green´, but he developed a ´red´ mutation, so becomes genetically different and is Haplogroup C. And so on.
-There is nobody without ´blue´. But one person from Europe may have ´purple´ while someone from Mexico may have ´yellow but no purple´

For example, if someone had haplogroup D, I could tell you with 100% certainty that they are East Asian or have an East Asian ancestor

  • In Reply to Anne C

Simon Winnik

Edmonton 9174 June 11, 2015

Why does the author repeatedly refer to Turkey describing events took place 4-5 thousand years ago? Turkey has a strong connotation to Turks which came to the Asia Minor (proper geographical name) less than a thousand years ago.

Tom V

Los Altos, CA 617:5826 June 11, 2015

No single article can cover everything. Also, this is a report of a recent paper that took yrs of research and collection of rare ancient human remains happened to be found in Europe and Near East. It focuses on the origin of Europeans.

There are similar research in East Asia and when they publish results, perhaps East Asian news media will cover it. When Sub-Saharan Africans do it, they will report similarly.

It is preposterous and presumptuous to expect scientists with European human remains to have any results on East Asians, for example. When they discovered enough ancient Asian remains, some scientists will do it and publish. Don't bring PC in science.

  • In Reply to jrs

Josh Hill

 New London, Conn. 402:5326 June 11, 2015

They're referred to as hunter-gatherers and farmers and sheephereders because of archaeological evidence. Agriculture didn't even exist 45,000 years ago! And if it had, it wouldn't have been possible to practice it in Europe during the ice age. So the original population had to be hunter-gatherers.

And it's long been known that farmers then spread into Europe from the Middle East, where, again, we know that old world agriculture originated. And it seems the Yamnaya left behind an abundance of archaeological evidence.

  • In Reply to andy

Gandhian

NJ 119:874 June 11, 2015

Maybe it is time to understand Hinduism.

  • In Reply to Joe

J. Nelson Leith

Washington, DC 704 June 11, 2015

It's a little obnoxious that some partisans can't read a science article without turning it into a political polemic against their enemies. Commandeering science for a culture war is no more rational than denying science for a culture war. If you want to instill a respect for science beyond the dogma of politics, start with your own side's idiotic pseudoscientific opposition to gender traits and GMOs.

Or, as that ridiculous book would put it: take the beam from your own eye before digging the mote from someone else's.

Delicate Genius

Cambridge, MA 313 June 11, 2015

For all the attention paid to the ancient sites in Egypt and Palestine - few appreciate ancient sites on the very edge of Europe like Newgrange and Skara Brae that tend to show a very ancient civilization and population.

There may be clues in Gaelic and Welsh "myth".

Of course, the Bible is myth, but not considered such - and it has perhaps a trace of historical accuracy, but for the most part is wildly inaccurate - as you'd expect from something written down centuries later, if not simply made up.
 

Tinmanic

New York, NY 185 June 11, 2015

This type of discovery is genuinely fascinating. What I love about history, especially pre-history, is that it makes the present day seem insignifcant. To the humans who inhabited those skeletons, we're living in the far, far future.

Petey Tonei

Massachusetts 170 June 11, 2015

Evangelicals suggest Adam and eve lived on earth around 4000-5000 BC. How does that reconcile with the discovery that Europe hunter gatherers arrived some 45,000 years ago, in an article last year you mention, "About 50,000 years ago, humans from Africa first set foot in Europe. They hunted woolly mammoths and other big game — sometimes to extinction. Eventually, they began grazing livestock and raising crops." Can someone please talk to our Christian Evangelicals who believe in the Genesis, word to word, literally?

Peretz

Israel 15196100 June 12, 2015

As a practicing human geneticist I do wonder about conclusions based on small sample numbers and isolated findings. Often the conclusions from such studies are turned around when someone discovers a new group of skeletons in some other cave somewhere else in East or West Asia. The high profile given to these publications is more based on the public curiosity of our origins than solid science. Publishing genetic findings today in top journals demands thousands or tens of thousands of samples whereas these archeological findings appear to me, admittedly a non-expert, to be given an awful lot of slack. I take most of these findings with a grain of salt and expect with a few years a new theory based on new 'finds' will pop up.

1emike

Minneapolis 9850:15192376 June 11, 2015

Who told you you're only 50% genetically similar to your brother? That would be where the flaw lies. You are 99.999999% or so similar to your brother, and way more than 50% similar to, say, a fish.

  • In Reply to pete

Patrick

California 8019 June 11, 2015

Interesting article. Please do more of this sort of discussion.

Driving Commuter

PA/NJ/NY Area 7347 June 11, 2015

May be I missed something in this article. Where did the original hunters and gaterers come from?

Petey Tonei

Massachusetts 386:6828 June 11, 2015

Steve is right. And the early Indo European language is related to Sanskrit.

Mark Thomason

 Clawson, MI 5766:6265 June 11, 2015

I think that is a good question. I looked a bit myself on the web for such work.

I know we can identify some of the genes for some hair and eye characteristics. We can see height and build from many of the bones. I don't know how much more we can now decode from the DNA, but I expect it will increase a lot with time.

I hope we can get a very good picture of a great many people from these varied groups.

Personally I expect the developing picture will further undermine the concept of race, and we'll see an entirely different picture of humanity.

  • In Reply to Greg

YD

nyc 712:5521 June 11, 2015

This just in: The world is round.

  • In Reply to Innocent

Meh

Atlantic Coast 712:5437 June 11, 2015

Had a little trouble following your point. This is science. The bible is a collection of fables. Neither one actually meet.

  • In Reply to Innocent

Mike K

Chicagoland 712:5349 June 11, 2015

It the same bible that says the Sun goes around the Earth?

  • In Reply to Innocent

Arun Gupta

 NJ 119:5068 June 11, 2015

Sorry, Carl Sagan stepped outside his competence there. Even his " demon-haunted="" world"="" is="" a="" misinterpretation="" of="" sanskrit="" verse.="" an="" examplle="" hindu="" imagination="" can="" be="" found="" here:="" Mark Caponigro

Mark Thomason

 Clawson, MI 5766:6265 June 11, 2015

I think that is a good question. I looked a bit myself on the web for such work.

I know we can identify some of the genes for some hair and eye characteristics. We can see height and build from many of the bones. I don't know how much more we can now decode from the DNA, but I expect it will increase a lot with time.

I hope we can get a very good picture of a great many people from these varied groups.

Personally I expect the developing picture will further undermine the concept of race, and we'll see an entirely different picture of humanity.

  • In Reply to Greg

YD

nyc 712:5521 June 11, 2015

This just in: The world is round.

  • In Reply to Innocent

Meh

Atlantic Coast 712:5437 June 11, 2015

Had a little trouble following your point. This is science. The bible is a collection of fables. Neither one actually meet.

  • In Reply to Innocent

Mike K

Chicagoland 712:5349 June 11, 2015

It the same bible that says the Sun goes around the Earth?

  • In Reply to Innocent

Arun Gupta

 NJ 119:5068 June 11, 2015

Sorry, Carl Sagan stepped outside his competence there. Even his " demon-haunted="" world"="" is="" a="" misinterpretation="" of="" sanskrit="" verse.="" an="" examplle="" hindu="" imagination="" can="" be="" found="" here:="" NYC 119:728 June 11, 2015

That is not the late beloved saintly (dare I say it) Carl Sagan at his best. He is absolutely right to denounce and disdain the anti-intellectual prejudices of very many religious people. But he is entirely wrong to suggest that there are no practitioners of "major religions" who have accommodated their beliefs to the amazing discoveries of scientists, and their grand, subtle, elegant, magnificent worldview.

E.g., this bit about "little god" is quite a wrong direction. There are to be sure many followers of a biblical tradition who insist on the truth of a creator-god creating all the world (the Earth and its contents, and the visible celestial bodies) in six days -- and that is a very narrow picture indeed. But other followers of biblical traditions have no problem with understanding the Creator to be the ontological foundation of all this universe beginning with the Big Bang, and all the countless parallel universes the existence of which the scientists might speculate about but can never Iso far at least) prove.

  • In Reply to Joe

Tom Wyrick

Missouri, USA 15194328 June 12, 2015

Southern Europe and South Asia have huge mountain ranges that would have influenced many immigrants moving out of Africa to follow coastlines and flatter terrain to the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea area. From there, one could go west into Europe, north and east to Siberia or China, or east to Asia.

Brian

Price 6377:15192509 June 11, 2015

Although the first group of humans came from Africa - they migrated to a number of different places on the planet much before migration to Europe. Wherever they went they developed unique characteristics based on their limited genetic pool and the environments around them - including climate etc. Then some of those people migrated elsewhere at different times. So it's more complex than everyone came from Africa.

  • In Reply to Straus Davis

Brian

Price 6402:15192456 June 11, 2015

You make a number of unsubstantiated assertions about faulty models, models that yield different results, DNA conflicting with 'physical evidence' (as if DNA is not physical evidence). What information do you have that these scientists did not have access to?

  • In Reply to Jesusaurus Rex

Brian

Price 6801:15192281 June 11, 2015

That 'fossil' was actually a mummy - and is the oldest mummy discovered in Europe, not the oldest fossil remains. Also he lived only 5,000 years ago - so has little to do with this article or area of inquiry.

  • In Reply to ourtimes69

Jeff

Placerville, California 7615:15191045 June 11, 2015

Because the scientists were examining the DNA of a different group of ancestors who seem to have emigrated 4000 years before the Celts and Germans.

  • In Reply to Jon Harrison

Shaun

Takoma Park, MD 402:5089 June 11, 2015

They can tell that because the remains were found in those contexts (h-g vs shepards vs farmers have very different archaeological signatures). Also, if they did any isotopic analysis on the bones, they'd be able to tell what the diet largely consisted of.

  • In Reply to andy

William Shelton

Juiz de Fora, MG, Brazil 456:678 June 11, 2015

Growing up in rural Oklahoma in the late 50s and 60s, I have actually heard people claim that "If the Kings James Bible was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me." People often have trouble understanding the context of their own lives, much less that of their ancestors.

  • In Reply to PJ

Miriam

San Rafael, CA 610 June 11, 2015

I am vaguely remembering some project - maybe a decade ago - with National Geographic - it was on TV - where they were studying DNA from all over the world - and traced huge numbers back to a common ancestor perhaps it was in Kazahkastan? (I also remember them telling the Havasupai Indians that they were descendants of this person - and they were very clear - "you have your story, we have ours. Don't you tell us who we are."
Does anyone recall that "definitive" study and how it relates to this one? Looking forward to some erudite responses!

Mary Ann

Western Washington 073:591 June 11, 2015

@brupic - I don't think the born-again crowd reads science reports like this or is, in fact, *allowed* to read about the science of our origins.
(Hello, Texas Board of Education!)

  • In Reply to brupic

Mktguy

Orange County, CA 354 June 11, 2015

With such an influx of settlers from the areas that are now Russia and Ukraine, should Europe expect another Putin foray into western Europe to "liberate" former Russian people?

Bubba Lew

Chicago 133 June 11, 2015

According to Pat Robertson, these ancient people rode dinosaurs from the Steppes of Russia to Jerusalem where they hooked up with Jesus and walked on water. So much for science.

GWW2

Airmont NY 15218190 June 14, 2015

The article does not mention another Tocharian curiosity which may be significant to this discussion. The Indo-European languages are divided into two groups: the Centum Languages and the Satem Languages. The names are based on the word for "hundred," although there are other similaries within the respective groups. The Centum languages are found in Western Europe, and the Satems in Eastern Europe and South Asia. Tocharian, however, by far the easternmost IE language, was a Centum Language.

I'm sure the authors of the genetic study know this, and am surprised they didn't mention it

Bai Feila

Pennsylvania 15206336 June 14, 2015

Where did the first wave come from?

hmsmith0

Los Angeles 15190905:15196727 June 12, 2015

I don't get your point. They're talking about migrations into Europe, not the Americas which I thought was a different migration (eastward not westward) made by a different population of people at a different time. They're also talking about the spread of the IE language into Europe and what group may have done it which again is not the language group(s) of those who spread to the Americas. And Europe wasn't unsettled even when the earliest Homo sapiens got there. Neanderthal humans were already there.

  • In Reply to Jackie

Susan Z

Dallas, Texas 15195751 June 12, 2015

For a delightful narrative, read "Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About The Event That Changed History," by William Ryan and Walter Pitman. Also "The Horse The Wheel And Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World" by David W. Anthony. Proto-Indo-Europeans were forced out of the Middle East by dryness from a mini Ice age. They migrated to a fresh water lake, which is now the (salt water) Black Sea. There was a cultural exchange; life was good. Then the ice melted and the Black Lake flooded (the Biblical Great Flood). People disbursed in all directions taking their culture and language with them. Research the origin of Indo-Europeans. It always says "near the Black Sea." They can't find the settlements because they are under water! This article adds more weight to this amazing story.

brupic

nara/greensville 15191246:15194946 June 12, 2015

this is not a piece written for academics--tho they are obviously free to read it-- but for people with an interest in science or this particular topic. there are academic journals if you'd rather not read a generalist.

Jackie

Missouri 15190905 June 11, 2015

Sorry, but to me, the numbers don't add up. There are caves in South America that were inhabited by humans over 40,000 years ago, and we didn't produce our own species of humans here in the Western Hemisphere. The Chumash Indians inhabited the Channel Islands off the coast of California some 10,000 years ago, and there are similarities between the Chumash language and Polynesians. There were people who inhabited Ecuador some 7,000 years ago who may have come originally from Japan. The Bering Strait was crossable to both large mammals and humans from 50,000 BC to 11,700 BC, which resulted in waves of human beings spreading all of the way from Siberia down to Tiera del Fuego. I find it hard to believe that Europe, which is so close to Africa, was unsettled for thousands of years just so that people could wind up on this side of the Atlantic.

Dan W

Maine 7535 June 11, 2015

I wanted to read most of the comments on this NYT article before I commented. I serious doubt that 300 generations of humanity would result in the vast differences of the races on earth today. That shoots the "evangelical" view of humans existing for only 6000 or so years.
I think scientists have only found a very small number of representative human remains to perform genetic studies on. It's the same with dinosaurs. We have most likely only found remains of less than one percent of all the dinosaur species. So, while their work is intriguing, it is far from being definitive. I cannot imagine that climate changes did not have some effect on the migration of man across the planet. We have found remains in glaciers, and certainly the people were not inhabiting those areas in great numbers. It remains a mystery, and there are many who have to always read the last page of a mystery first. Unfortunately, many pages of the human mystery are missing.
I think as we find more human remains, and perform more genetic testing, the human story will continue to change. In fact, the last page of the human mystery may never be written for us to read. Perhaps when man develops time travel, we can go back and take a real tour of the habitation of our planet by man. Since most scientists claim time is linear, and cannot run backwards, we may just have to settle for scientific guesses. It was a good read, but I reserve judgement until there is more information.

Jon Quirk

South Africa 6321 June 11, 2015

So we are all a soupçon of this and a pinch of that; I imagine that, over time, as with now, the more adventurous travelled more, enquired more, inter-mingled more and integrated more.

It would be fascinating to compare the more adventurous over the millennia with the more conservative and stay-at-home groupings.

I imagine the DNA and IQ may be quite different?

What about Africa, our common birthplace - did this too continue to develop, or does this explain in part its continuance of a hunter-gatherer existence into and beyond the 19th century?

Leslie

New Jersey 712:5958 June 11, 2015

The Bible specifically says "Britain and America will go down" and "Germany will rise to lead the EU?" So the Bible knew about the New World thousands of years before the very Catholic Spaniards ran into it, not knowing it existed? But weren't they reading the Bible?

  • In Reply to Innocent

Josh Hill

 New London, Conn. 223:5133 June 11, 2015

Dan, the Neanderthals were already long in Europe when that first group of hunter gatherers arrived 45,000 years ago. The two groups lived side-by-side for several thousand years and then the Neanderthals died out. I've seen it suggested that there was a higher rate of Neanderthal admixture in Europe's original H. sapien hunter-gatherer population than in today's Europeans, but I don't know if it's true or whether this study shed any light on the question.

  • In Reply to Dan Stackhouse

Dan Stackhouse

NYC 223 June 11, 2015

Fascinating stuff, thanks. I'm guessing the first European group were what we refer to as the Neanderthals (as they were first found in Neanderthal, a valley in Germany), and it's been proven that there was intermixing of them with later groups, although there was probably some warfare when the second group arrived. Not too surprising to me that the Yamnaya would have spread over 4,000 miles, due to their lifestyle: nomadic shepherds. The grass is always greener over there, and they'd follow the sheep, and due to the success of their subsistence strategy, they'd have to expand due to overpopulation of their initial areas. It's also not surprising that they integrated peacefully, as shepherds don't tend to go to war until they run out of sheep, it's not good for their lifestyle.

I think too it should be kept in mind that we don't have the full picture here; this is based on DNA taken from 170 humans. From the period of 45,000 to 4,000 years ago, there had to be millions of humans having lived in Europe at some point, and they wouldn't necessarily come from these three groups. Easy to picture groups moving in from Northwest Africa, from Turkey, from Siberia north of the Yamnaya's turf, and so on. Some of these other possible incursions might be very tough to spot, as their ways might not have included burials in the ground, nor long-term settlements where artifacts would pile up.

Rick Goranowski

Mooresville NC 15219032 June 14, 2015

What of homo ergastor (workman) skulls dating back 1.2 million years found in Albania in 2013 in caves sequestering saber tooth tigers? Why no Neanderthal DNA data? Must be around in the mix.

Jacques Renou

Comstock park,Michigan 15196350:15215114 June 14, 2015

See if you still feel the same if we dig up your grandmother s and grandfather s and defile there bodies in the name of science. People's of non Native American heratige are always for that. Have we ever suggested digging up your ancestors to do the same as you state in your comments? No!Since day one of contract with white men,we have Bern abused,dissrespected,defiled,enslaved,ect.ect.Rethink your ignorant notions and stop disrespecting our culture and lands!

  • In Reply to Larry

marian

Philadelphia 456:7724 June 11, 2015

I bet that's the same woman who shouted out during a debate about the ACA that she wanted the government to stay out of her Medicare.

  • In Reply to PJ

jimbo

seattle 073:6343 June 11, 2015

Religious fundamentalism is inherently evil. It is a culture based on "my way or the highway."

  • In Reply to brupic

Larry Lundgren

Linköping, Sweden 252:6232 June 11, 2015

@ Kim - Kim this will be my only comment/reply today, one hardly anybody but you probably will see. You end with a simple sentence that could be the basis for a New York Times series we will never see.

"Our origins seem so very entwined." Svante Pääbo would be asked by the Times to write the first article in the series.

Now to your first sentence: "...how and why racialism developed." I recommend you consider reading "Fatal Invention-How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-created Race in the Twenty-first Century" by Dorothy Roberts, Professor of Law and Sociology at U Penn. She notes that her parents taught her there is only one race, the human. She devoted 6 years of research leading to the book in which she makes the case that the concept of "race" is the "fatal invention of racists".

As far as I know I have never succeeded in getting a single Times commenter to read the book but it remains the most important book I have read in the past 10 years.

"In northern Europe, the newcomers didn’t tax the Neolithic farmers: mostly, they killed them. Razib Khan compares this to the original Mongol plan (kill them, kill them all) before that Khitan bureaucrat explained the joys of taxation. In the Corded Ware/Single Grave/Battleaxe culture, there’s no sign that the farmers are around as serfs: there are almost no buildings, almost no sign of agriculture.

"Archaeologists should read more Conan: Robert E. Howard was way closer to the mark than they were or are. Even good guys like David Anthony were influenced: but I’ll bet he’s over that now."
 

ericmarseille

La Cadiere d'Azur, France 5867 June 11, 2015

Don't oversimplify when talking about the indo-european expansion.

Every informed people know that the " tocharians"="" (now="" called="" more="" aptly="" the="" "arsi-kuci",="" from="" names="" of="" cities="" they="" occupied="" since="" we="" don't="" know="" their="" original="" name)="" were="" a="" "western"="" indo-european="" people="" who,="" at="" some="" point="" expansion="" (not="" necessarily="" in="" western="" europe="" time),="" went="" east,="" cohabited="" for="" time="" with="" proto-greeks="" (certainly="" not="" greece="" then="" proto-aryans="" central="" asia),="" before="" finding="" place="" tarim="" basin.

Eva

dna kit this weekend and this type of information fascinates me!

CassandraRusyn

Columbus, Oh 15218038 June 14, 2015

How, when, and where do the Neanderthals fit in? Most Euro/Americans have 2-3% Neanderthal genes.

F. T.

Oakland CA 15216432 June 14, 2015

How wonderful to think of all this movement, and blending, and change. We tend to think of our moment in time as The Time, and of ourselves as The Representatives of humanity. But this information, with the technology that makes it possible, reminds me of how much we have changed, and how much we have yet to change. How much we have learned, and how much we have yet to learn. How wonderful to have that reminder, and to see ourselves as a tiny moment in this current of change.

greer919

Kochi Japan 15204300 June 14, 2015

Still, if history and science have taught us anything, it is that passion and desire are not the same as truth. The human mind evolved to believe in gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology. Acceptance of the supernatural conveyed a great advantage throughout prehistory, when the brain was evolving. Thus it is in sharp contrast to the science of biology, which was developed as a product of the modern age and is not underwritten by genetic algorithms. The uncomfortable truth is that the two beliefs are not factually compatible. As a result, those who hunger for both intellectual and religious truth face disquieting choices. --O.E. Wilson

LouAZ

Aridzona 15200060 June 14, 2015

Has Putin heard about this yet ? Now he will claim all of Europe belongs to " mother="" russia".="" think="" the="" land="" grab="" in="" ukraine="" was="" bad="" ?="" you="" ain't="" seen="" nothing="" yet="" !

dna kit this weekend and this type of information fascinates me!

CassandraRusyn

Columbus, Oh 15218038 June 14, 2015

How, when, and where do the Neanderthals fit in? Most Euro/Americans have 2-3% Neanderthal genes.

F. T.

Oakland CA 15216432 June 14, 2015

How wonderful to think of all this movement, and blending, and change. We tend to think of our moment in time as The Time, and of ourselves as The Representatives of humanity. But this information, with the technology that makes it possible, reminds me of how much we have changed, and how much we have yet to change. How much we have learned, and how much we have yet to learn. How wonderful to have that reminder, and to see ourselves as a tiny moment in this current of change.

greer919

Kochi Japan 15204300 June 14, 2015

Still, if history and science have taught us anything, it is that passion and desire are not the same as truth. The human mind evolved to believe in gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology. Acceptance of the supernatural conveyed a great advantage throughout prehistory, when the brain was evolving. Thus it is in sharp contrast to the science of biology, which was developed as a product of the modern age and is not underwritten by genetic algorithms. The uncomfortable truth is that the two beliefs are not factually compatible. As a result, those who hunger for both intellectual and religious truth face disquieting choices. --O.E. Wilson

LouAZ

Aridzona 15200060 June 14, 2015

Has Putin heard about this yet ? Now he will claim all of Europe belongs to " mother="" russia".="" think="" the="" land="" grab="" in="" ukraine="" was="" bad="" ?="" you="" ain't="" seen="" nothing="" yet="" !

 

Richard Simnett

NJ 914:8238 June 11, 2015

There was a report a few years ago in the NYT of a genetic study done on human remains found in a cave in Cheddar Gorge (Somerset, England). Having successfully sequenced some DNA the researchers asked people from old-established local families for blood samples to see if there were any matches. There was, a teacher from about 15 miles away. Movement of 15 miles over 9000 years is not very great.
A Ukrainian colleague told me how patterns of settlement worked there. Shepherds and other herders kept their flocks on the hills, the valleys and towns had farmers and merchants. They did not speak the same languages or mix very much if at all. Totally different cultures, not integrated or blended. His family were Jews and merchants. Both sides dealt with the Jews in preference to the other major group.
Since he was in the US this account may relate to the PreWW2 situation, when his family presumably escaped. I never pressed for details.

  • In Reply to Mark Thomason

marian

Philadelphia 073:7840 June 11, 2015

Actually, agriculture took hold about 12,000 years ago- not 6,000.

  • In Reply to brupic

David Chowes

New York City 6355 June 11, 2015

AS SCIENCE ADVANCES UNFORTUNATELY HUMANS NOT SO MUCH . . .

...for the conditions of the human psyche are quite destructive and quite immature. Yes, this information is both interesting and of value. But, there could be unintended negative consequences. E.g., the propagation of eugenics where some groups are thought to be better than others.

Ken Gedan

Florida 5405:6059 June 11, 2015

Language and DNA tracked more closely then. It's different now because of easy travel.

  • In Reply to EBurgett

Michael

Carlsbad, CA 712:5795 June 11, 2015

What does the bible say with accuracy about the ten year period from 1765 to 1775? Presumably, if it is so good at informing us about the present ten years, it is equally good for any 10 year period.

The bible contains great truths, but they are not about the details of the time you happen to be living in. Rather, these are truths about the human condition, at all times.

  • In Reply to Innocent

Eliahu Cannani

NYC 692:5606 June 11, 2015

Josh.

American was being facetious.

  • In Reply to American

Brian Sussman

New Rochelle NY 949:5415 June 11, 2015

Modern humans migrated to Asia over 60,000 years ago, from Africa, not directly to Europe. Modern humans then first migrated to Europe from Asia. This has been known for decades.

  • In Reply to GetMeTheBigKnife

Josh Hill

 New London, Conn. 914:5298 June 11, 2015

Mark, you might be surprised. Much research has been done and if anything it suggests that people moved around *less* than we thought. For example, it was once widely assumed that the English were Anglo-Saxons who had displaced the original Britons, but DNA studies find that the original population remained in place, with a genetic contribution from the invaders -- and that populations tend to stay in localities for thousands of years. The Basque, who speak a non-Indo-European language, may well be the same Cro-Magnons who made those magnificent cave paintings in prehistory!

That isn't to say that people don't migrate, but averaged over time, migration seems to be a fairy slow process.

Joseph

New York 290:5297 June 11, 2015

Every region of the world was " founded"="" by="" migrants="" (except="" for="" a="" small="" area="" in="" africa="" where="" homo="" sapiens="" evolved).

Richard Simnett

NJ 914:8238 June 11, 2015

There was a report a few years ago in the NYT of a genetic study done on human remains found in a cave in Cheddar Gorge (Somerset, England). Having successfully sequenced some DNA the researchers asked people from old-established local families for blood samples to see if there were any matches. There was, a teacher from about 15 miles away. Movement of 15 miles over 9000 years is not very great.
A Ukrainian colleague told me how patterns of settlement worked there. Shepherds and other herders kept their flocks on the hills, the valleys and towns had farmers and merchants. They did not speak the same languages or mix very much if at all. Totally different cultures, not integrated or blended. His family were Jews and merchants. Both sides dealt with the Jews in preference to the other major group.
Since he was in the US this account may relate to the PreWW2 situation, when his family presumably escaped. I never pressed for details.

marian

Philadelphia 073:7840 June 11, 2015

Actually, agriculture took hold about 12,000 years ago- not 6,000.

David Chowes

New York City 6355 June 11, 2015

AS SCIENCE ADVANCES UNFORTUNATELY HUMANS NOT SO MUCH . . .

...for the conditions of the human psyche are quite destructive and quite immature. Yes, this information is both interesting and of value. But, there could be unintended negative consequences. E.g., the propagation of eugenics where some groups are thought to be better than others.

Ken Gedan

Florida 5405:6059 June 11, 2015

Language and DNA tracked more closely then. It's different now because of easy travel.

Michael

Carlsbad, CA 712:5795 June 11, 2015

What does the bible say with accuracy about the ten year period from 1765 to 1775? Presumably, if it is so good at informing us about the present ten years, it is equally good for any 10 year period.

The bible contains great truths, but they are not about the details of the time you happen to be living in. Rather, these are truths about the human condition, at all times.

Eliahu Cannani

NYC 692:5606 June 11, 2015

Josh.

American was being facetious.

Brian Sussman

New Rochelle NY 949:5415 June 11, 2015

Modern humans migrated to Asia over 60,000 years ago, from Africa, not directly to Europe. Modern humans then first migrated to Europe from Asia. This has been known for decades.

Josh Hill

 New London, Conn. 914:5298 June 11, 2015

Mark, you might be surprised. Much research has been done and if anything it suggests that people moved around *less* than we thought. For example, it was once widely assumed that the English were Anglo-Saxons who had displaced the original Britons, but DNA studies find that the original population remained in place, with a genetic contribution from the invaders -- and that populations tend to stay in localities for thousands of years. The Basque, who speak a non-Indo-European language, may well be the same Cro-Magnons who made those magnificent cave paintings in prehistory!

That isn't to say that people don't migrate, but averaged over time, migration seems to be a fairy slow process.

Joseph

New York 290:5297 June 11, 2015

Every region of the world was " founded"="" by="" migrants="" (except="" for="" a="" small="" area="" in="" africa="" where="" homo="" sapiens="" evolved).

joe

 

Michael

Carlsbad, CA 617:5814 June 11, 2015

Because living Africans contain a considerable portion of the diversity of humans, they have received particular attention. Work correlating language and DNA in Africans has been done. This work still needs to be strengthened with DNA from ancient burials.

Hooey

Woods Hole, MA 170:5549 June 11, 2015

I rationalize the beliefs of my Christian Evangelical friends, who are Bible literalists, by supposing that God may have created a world 4,000 years ago that included dinosaur bones in the ground, and a fully eroded Grand Canyon, all for our delight and investigation. If God did create the world 4,000 years ago, it's hard to believe he would have created a cue ball world with no history of erosion, no hills no valleys -- no " backstory,"="" as="" my="" son="" says.
In the end, everyone's cosmology breaks down at the beginning, for no one can explain what came before the beginning. You may believe in the Big Bang as the creation of the Universe (as do I), but that begs the question of -- what created the Big Bang. Was it God? An intelligent being? If not, then what? We can ask what created the intelligent being, etc.

In the end, how you satisfy these personal questions is up to you. To criticize someone's reliance on world created 4,000 years ago by God, and substituting a world created 4 billion years ago by the Big Bang, doesn't really explain anything. Your religion for theirs.

I think the fossil record clearly shows evidence of evolution, as does current biology. God may have created man to evolve, and given us a backstory. If so, who cares whether God started the record in the middle of the song instead of letting it play from the beginning. Maybe he was impatient and didn't want to watch 4,000,000,000 years of ennui.

Michael

Carlsbad, CA 617:5814 June 11, 2015

Because living Africans contain a considerable portion of the diversity of humans, they have received particular attention. Work correlating language and DNA in Africans has been done. This work still needs to be strengthened with DNA from ancient burials.

Hooey

Woods Hole, MA 170:5549 June 11, 2015

I rationalize the beliefs of my Christian Evangelical friends, who are Bible literalists, by supposing that God may have created a world 4,000 years ago that included dinosaur bones in the ground, and a fully eroded Grand Canyon, all for our delight and investigation. If God did create the world 4,000 years ago, it's hard to believe he would have created a cue ball world with no history of erosion, no hills no valleys -- no " backstory,"="" as="" my="" son="" says.Boston 252:5548 June 11, 2015

Racism is a characteristic of patriarchal cultures (men love to organized themselves and their possessions from top to bottom) as a result racism exists all around the world in most countries and has existed for millennia.

American

NY 692:5536 June 11, 2015

Actually some of the winning US spelling bee words were German. Nothing scientific but Just lookat the discrepancy between the SAT verbal scores of Indians versus East Asian/Chinese.

oracle

LES 5017 June 11, 2015

Reminded me of megalithic site from 10,000 B.C.