One Family Many Faces

As humans were being pushed into a corner in Europe, their cousins in Asia were enduring a similar onslaught. Although small groups did live in the far north, for the most part Asians were forced into their own enclaves during the last ice age. Glaciers spreading from mountain ranges the Hindu Kush, Tien Shan, and Himalaya hemmed them in to different corners of the continent. Indians were isolated in the subcontinent, and East Asians were restricted to their core territory farther east, perhaps...

Juliuss Test

Julius agreed to be tested because he was curious about how science could tell him about his distant ancestors. As with most indigenous people, he had a clear sense of where his people had come from. According to their tradition, they had always lived in their homeland, with the baobab trees and the animals and the lake and Ngorongoro Crater rising like a gentle giant out of the African savanna. Although the incoming Maasai cattle herders relative newcomers to the region, around 500 years ago...

Tools Of The Trade

What is DNA, this molecule that allows us to travel so far back into the past this history book we carry around like a gift from a long line of ancestors It turns out to be a very long, somewhat repetitive linear molecule a tiny piece of tickertape, a bit like a continuous sequence of Morse code but with four building blocks instead of just dots and dashes. Contained in nearly every cell in your body, it is your blueprint that in theory could be used to create a physically identical copy of...

Facetoface

Genetically, Africa is the most diverse continent in the world. Two Africans sampled from the same village could have Y-chromosome or mtDNA lineages that are more divergent from each other than either is to a non-African. This diversity extends also to physical appearance, where there is a broad range in different regions. The features North Americans and Europeans typically associate with Africans are influenced by the populations they have had contact with, notably those from west-central...

Haplogroup H

Ancestral line Eve L1 L0 L2 L3 N R pre-HV HV H As humans began to repopulate western Europe after the ice age, by far the most frequent mitochondrial lineage carried by these expanding groups was haplogroup H, which came to dominate the European female landscape. Today haplogroup H comprises 40 to 60 percent of the gene pool of most European populations. In Rome and Athens, for example, H is found in about 40 percent of the entire population, and it exhibits similar frequencies throughout...

Haplogroup N

Ancestral line Eve L1 L0 L2 L3 N Haplogroup N, like M, is one of two groups that descend directly from haplogroup L3. The first of these groups, M, made up the first great wave of human migration to leave Africa. The second great wave, also of L3 individuals, moved north rather than east and left the African continent across the Sinai Peninsula. Faced with the harsh desert conditions of the Sahara, these people likely followed the Nile basin, which would have proved a reliable water and food...

The Challenges Ahead

As of this writing May 2006 the team has started sampling in places as far afield as Alaska, Chad, the Caucasus, southern India, and Laos. The coming years, before the estimated project completion date of 2010, promise to hold many surprises and much excitement. One of the most challenging aspects of the Project is coordinating the international efforts with indigenous and traditional peoples and their representatives to collect and evaluate their samples. Earlier sampling efforts by others...

Mapping Europe

Despite the relatively limited data, we do know a fair amount about world genetic patterns. European populations are particularly well cataloged, for the simple reason that most of the world's geneticists are of European descent, and over many years they have studied themselves and the populations where they live to a greater extent than remote populations halfway around the world. While this bias makes sense, it is has led to false assumptions about the way human history has unfolded. Clear...

Haplogroup R B

Ancestral line Adam M168 M89 M9 M207 M173 M343 Around 30,000 years ago, a descendant of the clan making its way into Europe gave rise to marker M343, the defining marker of haplogroup R1b. These travelers are direct descendants of the people who dominated the human expansion into Europe, the Cro-Magnon. The Cro-Magnon created the famous cave paintings found in southern France, providing archaeological evidence of a blossoming of artistic skills as people moved into Europe. Prior to this,...

Haplogroup I

Ancestral line Adam M168 M89 M170 Ancestors of this group were part of the M89 Middle Eastern clan that continued to migrate northwest into the Balkans and eventually spread into central Europe. These people may have been responsible for bringing the Gravettian culture to western Europe about 21,000 to 28,000 years ago. Named after a site in La Gravette, France, Gravettian culture represented a new technological and artistic phase in western Europe. Archaeologists discovered sets of tools...

Haplogroup Hv

Ancestral line Eve L1 L0 L2 L3 N R pre-HV HV1 Descending from haplogroup pre-HV, haplogroup HV1 formed a new group around 30,000 years ago. Like HV, HV1 can be found at its highest frequencies throughout the Near East, including Anatolia present-day Turkey and the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia and the republic of Georgia. Some members of this haplogroup crossed the rugged Caucasus Mountains in southern Russia, moved on to the steppes of the Black Sea, and then westward into regions that...

Haplogroup Z

Ancestral line Eve L1 L0 L2 L3 M Z About 30,000 years ago, the first members of haplogroup Z began moving north into Siberia, the beginnings of a journey into much of eastern Asia. A characteristic Siberian lineage, haplogroup Z also inhabited the high plains of central Asia between the Caspian Sea and Lake Baikal. Today it accounts for around 3 percent of the entire mitochondrial gene pool found there. Because of its old age and frequency throughout northern Eurasia, it is widely accepted that...

Haplogroup W

Ancestral line Eve L1 L0 L2 L3 N W Members of haplogroup W also descended from haplogroup N and migrated into Europe from the Near East. Like haplogroup I descendants, W members who live in the Near East today have more divergent lineages than those found in northern Europe, indicating a longer habitation in the Near East for those lineages to accumulate more mutations. Early members of haplogroup W likely moved north across the Caucasus during the middle Upper Paleolithic. Like haplogroup I,...

Long Time To Wait

We've come to the end of our journey back to the earliest human ancestors who can be detected in our DNA. Each person alive today can be assigned to one of our haplogroup clans, uniting their Y chromosome or mtDNA with others who shared a similar journey to wherever they live today. But what about the root of the trees shown in Figures 3 and 5 What do these roots actually represent, and when did Any piece of DNA that is not shuffled through the action of recombination can be traced back in time...