The Human Family Tree and more (2) From Africa to the Indus Valley and beyond

(In the article of Joseph K. Pickrell en Jonathan K. Pritchard, “Inference of population splits and mixtures from genome-wide allele frequency data” their human family tree leads out of Africa.)

Map Human Family Tree Indus SIberia Asia

Map Human Family Tree Indus SIberia Asia

The following important split must have happened outside Africa. Around the estuary of the Indus a group probably continued following  the coast and another one moved up the Indus to the North.

In this article an important new element appears for the first time. In Cambodia old genes were detected that had left Africa a long time before, and once out of Africa probably followed the southern coastal route along the Indian Ocean and thus arrived in Cambodia. These Cambodian genes that took the southern route were not the only ones. They were part of a larger stream of people, black people, whose descendants still live on the Andaman islands, Thailand, Birma, Indonesia, the Philippines, Southern China and of course all of Oceania.

Human Family Tree DNA Asia

Human Family Tree DNA Asia

Another branch split off to the North. The Indus is its most likely route. This study confirms the study of Stephen Oppenheimer [1] which I have used as the main base to study  the spread of modern man from Africa, in my books on hunters and gatherers.[2]

The next progress of the Indus branch led to Central Asia. There the following split was that of people who moved to Eastern Siberia (and others to Europe). Their descendants would later make the crossing to America. Those that stayed in Southern Siberia would populate East Asia: Mongolia, China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, but also Indochina and later further south to Indonesia and ultimately Polynesia where the met people that had followed the Southern route. The Siberian trek explains why both Europeans and East Asians have a pale skin, they have common origins in Central Asia. In their passage there having a black skin was a disadvantage [3]. Natural adaptation selected for a skin with a lighter color. On their journey from southern Siberia to the South they had contact with the descendants of the oldest Homo sapienses who lived there: black people who looked like black Africans today. There are still descendants of these that live in the Andaman Islands, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, Melanesia and Australia.[4]

The node in the Indus Valley provides many of the oldest genes in Asia. (See map) From the oldest DNA to the youngest: Burusho – Sindhi-Pashtuns –Kalash – Balochi – Brahui. This does not match an exact South-North axis but this can be explained that older DNA may disappear and younger DNA may continue to exist. The migration from Africa to the Indus valley, some 80,000 to 65,000 years ago, must have followed a South – North axis in the Indus Valley.

The oldest preserved DNA is from that from the Burusho. The Sindhi have a younger mutation, the Pashtuns a still younger and so on. It does not mean that the Baluchi travelled first to Northern Pakistan to relocate later in Southeast Iran and South-West Pakistan.

The Uyghurs but also the Hazara are people were fairly recently formed. Their DNA is a mixed one, it comes from different peoples.

Next part: admixture with archaic genes in the Indus valley.

[1]Stephen Oppenheimer, Out of Eden. The Peopling of the World, Constable, London, 200

[2] Marc Vermeersch. De geschiedenis van de mens. Deel I. Jagers en verzamelaars. – Boek 1, van Pan tot Homo sapiens. (405 pagina’s) – Boek 2, de maatschappij van jagers en verzamelaars. (472 pagina’s)

[3] (From Wikipedia)  1.From ~1.2 million years ago to less than 100,000 years ago, the ancestors of all people alive were dark-skinned Africans. (humans in the North may also have had a pale skin color)
2. As populations began to migrate, the evolutionary constraint keeping skin dark decreased proportionally to the distance North a population migrated, resulting in a range of skin tones within northern populations.
3. At some point, northern populations experienced positive selection for lighter skin due to the increased production of vitamin D from sunlight and the genes for darker skin disappeared from these populations.
[4] Mentioned in: Boek 2, de maatschappij van jagers en verzamelaars, p.12-135.

The Human Family Tree and more (1)


The African 'oldest) part of the Human Family Tree

The African 'oldest) part of the Human Family Tree

The research of the human family tree never stood still but since DNA Research began it is in full motion. Below we use a research (that uses many others) that offers new insights. The last word concerning the human family tree however is still not said and it will probably not be spoken for a very long time.

A new study by Joseph Pickrell and Jonathan K. Pritchard, “Inference of population split from genome-wide allele frequency data and mixtures”, yielded a new family tree of humanity. In fact a new human family tree of which different variants were produced. In this pedigree, account was taken of important migrations that happened after the great spread of humans across the world from Homo heidelbergensis on. We discuss the most important aspects.

When looking at the tree we see that Homo Neanderthalensis and the Denisova hominins (that may be another kind of Neanderthal) first split from this human tree. They descended, like Homo sapiens, from Homo heidelbergensis and migrated from Africa to Eurasia around 800,000 years ago where they split in two branches around 640,000 years ago. These are approximate values which are based on average mutations.

Homo heidelbergensis evolved to Homo sapiens In Africa. On the family tree, we see that the San (or Bushmen) appear at the oldest split of Homo sapiens groups. One study states that this happened maybe between 150,000 and 90,000 years ago.[1]

The next Division was that of Mboeti-Pygmies that live in Northeast Congo.

The third division was that of the Biaka Pygmies that mainly live in the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

These three groups lived until recently as hunters and gatherers. The DNA of these peoples was so long preserved because they lived isolated until recently from recent developments such as the further spread of agriculture in Africa from Cameroon/Nigeria to the East and the South. From the fact that KhoiSan stand at the root of the human family tree we cannot infer that modern humans originated in southern Africa. It just means that very old mutations are found there. If we go back far enough in time all humans have the same ancestors but one branch must have the oldest least changed DNA.

The next group that we see on the human family tree are the Bantus of southern Africa. Their ancestors were the first that departed from Cameroon about 4000 years ago. The forefront retained its DNA. One sees also that the fork of the Bantus in Kenya is more recent. That points to a later departure from the core area in Cameroon/Nigeria.

To the African Branch of the modern humans we also see the Mozabite people. These are Berbers who live in the Algerian Sahara. The article gives no detailed explanation about them but we know that for the related Tuareg female DNA (mtDNA) is for approximately 82% sub-Saharan[2] and male DNA (y-chromosome) only 20%. 18% of Tuareg mtDNA is Berber and 82% of male DNA. The Mozabite people did to slave trade and it was the men who traveled. Mixing with black female slaves was obvious. Arrows connect the Mozabite people with the Middle East, with the spread of agriculture to North Africa and southern Europe.  

[1] Doron M. Behar et al., The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity, The American Journal of Human Genetics, 24 April 2008.

[2] Rando (1998), “Mitochondrial DNA analysis of Northwest African populations reveals genetic exchanges with European, Near-Eastern, and sub-Saharan population