My Earliest Ancestors Journey Taken from a study by National Geographic and IBM
HAPLOGROUP R1B (M343)
Your Y-chromosome results identify you as a member of haplogroup R1B
The genetic markers that define your ancestral history reach back roughly 60,000 years to the first common marker of all non-African men, M168, and follow your lineage to present day, ending with M343, the defining marker of haplogroup R1B.
You look at the map highlighting your ancestors' route, you will see that members of haplogroup R1b carry the following Y chromosome markers. M45, M207, M173, M343.
Today, roughly 70 percent of the men in southern England belong to haplogroup R1B. In parts of Spain and Ireland, that number exceeds 90 percent.
What's a haplogroup and why do geneticists concentrate on the Y chromosome in their search for markers? For that matter, what's' a marker?
Each of us carries DNA that is a combination of genes passed from both our mother and father, giving us traits that range from eye color to height athleticism and disease susceptibility. One exception is the Y chromosome, which is passed directly from father to son, unchanged, from generation to generation.
Unchanged, that is unless a mutation a random, naturally occurring, usually harmless change occurs. The mutation, known as a marker, acts as a beacon, it can be mapped through generations because it will be passed down from the man in whom it occurred to his sons, their sons, and every male in his family for thousands of years.
In some instances there may be more than one mutational event that defines a particular branch on the tree. This means that any of these markers can be used to determine your particular haplogroup, since every individual who has one of these markers also has the others.
When geneticists identify such a marker, they try to figure out when it first occurred, and in which geographic region of the world. Each marker is essentially the beginning of a new lineage on the family tree of the human race. Tracking the lineages provides a picture of how small tribes of modern humans in Africa tens of thousands of years ago diversified and spread to populate the world.
A haplogroup is defined by a series of markers that are shared by other men who carry the same random mutations. The markers trace the path your ancestors took as they moved out of Africa. It's difficult to know how many men worldwide belong to any particular haplogroup, or even how many haplogroups there are, because scientists simply don't have enough data yet.
One of the goals of the five-year Genographic Project is to build a large enough database of anthropological genetic data to answer some of these questions. To achieve this, project team members are traveling to all corners of the world to collect more than 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous populations. In addition, we encourage you to contribute your anonymous results.
Your next ancestor, a man born around 40,000 years ago in Iran or southern Central Asia, gave rise to a genetic marker known as M9, which marked a new lineage diverging from the M89 Middle Eastern Clan. His descendants, of which you are one, spent the next 30,000 years populating much of the planet.
This large lineage, known as the Eurasian Clan, dispersed gradually over thousands of years. Seasoned hunters followed the herds ever eastward, along the vast super highway of Eurasion Steppe. Eventually their path was blocked by the massive mountain ranges of South Central Asia and the Hindu Kush, the Tian Shan, and the Himalayas.
The three mountain ranges meet in a region known as the "Pamir Knot," located in present-day Tajikistan. Here the tribes of hunters split into two groups. Some moved north into Central Asia, others moved south into what is now Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent.
These different migration routes through the Pamir Knot region gave rise to separate lineages.
Most people native to the Northern Hemisphere trace their roots to the Eurasian Clan. Nearly all North Americans and East Asians are descended from the man described above, as are most Europeans and many Indians.
M45: The Journey Through Central Asia
Time of Emergence: 35,000
Place of Origin: Central Asia
Climate: Glaciers expanding over much of Europe
Estimated number of homo sapiens: Approximately 100,000
Tools and Skills: Upper Paleolithic
The next marker of your genetic heritage, M45, arose around 35,000 years ago, in a man born in Central Asia. He was part of the M9 Eurasian Clan that had moved to the north of the mountainous Hindu Kush and onto the game-rich steppes of present-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and southern Siberia.
Although big game was plentiful, the environment on the Eurasian steppes became increasing hostile as the glaciers of the Ice Age began to expand once again. The reduction in rainfalll may have induced desert-like conditions on the southern steppes, forcing your ancestors to follow the herds of game north.
To exist in such harsh conditions, they learned to build portable animal-skin shelters and to create weaponry and hunting techniques that would prove successful against the much larger animals they encountered in the colder climates. They compensated for the lack of stone they traditionally used to make weapons by developing smaller points and blades microliths that could be mounted to bone or wood handles and used effectively. Their tool kit also included bone needles for sewing animal-skin clothing that would both keep them warm and allow them the range of movement needed to hunt the reindeer and mammoth that kept them fed.
As your ancestors continued to move west, a man born around 30,000 years ago in Central Asia gave rise to a lineage defined by the genetic marker M173, His descendants were part of the first large wave of humans to reach Europe.
During this period, the Eurasian steppelands extended from present-day Germany, and possibly France, to Korea and China. The climate fostered a land rich in resources and opened a window into Europe.
Your ancestors' arrival in Europe heralded the end of the era of the Neandertals, a hominid species that inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia from about 29,000 to 230,000 years ago. Better communications skills, weapons, and resourcefulness probably enabled your ancestors to out compete Neandertals for scarce resources.
This wave of migration into Western Europe marked the appearance and spread of what archaeologists call the Aurignacian culture. The culture is distinguished by significant innovations in methods of manufacturing tools, more standardization of tools, and a broader set of tool types, such as end-scrapers for preparing animal skins and tools for woodworking.
In addition to stone, the first modern humans to reach Europe used bone, ivory, antler, and shells as part of their tool kit. Bracelets and pendants made of shells, teeth, ivory, and carved bone appear at many sites. Jewelry, often an indication of status, suggest a more complex social organization was beginning to develop.
The large number of archaeological sites found in Europe from around 30,000 years ago indicates that there was an increase in population size.
Around 20,000 years ago, the climate window shut again, and expanding ice sheets forced your ancestors to move south to Spain, Italy, and the Balkans. As the ice retreated and temperatures became warmer, beginning about 12,000 years ago, many descendants of M173 moved north again to repopulate places that had become inhospitable during the Ice Age.
Not surprisingly, today the number of descendants of the man who gave rise to marker M173 remains very high in Western Europe. It is particularly concentrated in Northern France and the British Isles where it was carried by ancestors who had weathered the Ice Age in Spain.
M343: Direct Descendants of Cro-Magnon
Time of Emergence: Around 30,000 years ago
Place of Origin: Western Europe
Climate: Ice sheets continuing to creep down Northern Europe
Estimated Number of Homo sapiens:
Tools and Skills: upper Paleolithic
Around 30,000 years ago, a descendant of the clan making its way into Europe gave rise to marker M343, the defining marker of your haplogroup. You are a direct descendent of the people who dominated the human expansion into Europe, the Cro-Magnon.
The Cro-Magnon are responsible for the famous cave paintings found in southern France. These spectacular paintings provide archaeological evidence that there was a sudden blossoming of artistic skills as your ancestors moved into Europe. Prior to this, artistic endeavors were mostly comprised of jewelry made of shell, bone, and ivory, primitive musical instruments, and stone carvings.
The cave painting of the Cro-Magnon depict animals like bison, deer, rhinoceroses, and horses, and natural events important to Paleolithic life such as spring molting, hunting, and pregnancy. The paintings are far more intricate, detailed, and colorful than anything seen prior to this period.
Your ancestors knew how to make woven clothing using the natural fibers of plants, and had relatively advanced tools of stone, bone, and ivory. Their jewelry, carvings, and intricate, colorful cave painting bear witness to the Cro-Magnons' advanced culture during the last glacial age.
This is where your genetic trail, as we know it today, ends. However, be sure to revisit these pages. As additional data are collected and analyzed, more will be learned about your place in the history of the men and women who first populated the Earth.