European (Autosomal) DNA

by Owen Picton

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Warning: Ideals and theories presented are given to best describe current DNA data, as I understand it, plus believed history and may not be accurate.

Our DNA is similar to being in a big DNA mixing bowl in different areas of the world. Europe and the Middle East is just one area of the world where DNA mixing with unique beneficial traits to that area took place as described below. Also, advantageous culture practices and knowledge (such as Worlds First Farmers) incorporated along with these beneficial genes drove the European DNA engine. Other areas such as Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America also had DNA mixing with unique beneficial traits just as advantageous but different than Europe.   Additionally, as an example, lets think of ones 1,024 8th-generation-great-grandparents (which is the source of all your autosomal DNA in 8 generations), only one of them was your Y-DNA ancestor, and the other 1,023 were not. What drives DNA selection and mixing I believe are beneficial health traits along with cultural and improved knowledge causing a greater number of descendants produced. This all occurring in very small minuscule amounts of time over thousands of years ago.

A question is how did the below European unique traits, culture, languages and scientific development move into Europe? The Ice Age was ending about 15,000 years ago in Europe. Man was on the move in all directions. Some people survived the Ice Age in Southern Spain and Sardinia (Southern Italy) and then they may have moved North as the glaciers melted. Those in Southern Spain and Sardinia (Southern Italy) living up to 8,500 years ago have been found to have had a slightly darker skin, black hair and brown eyes but are some of our ancestors of today. The mixing of DNA has changed all that. They settle Europe including the British Isles.  Other people came from the Western Steppes of Russia (Yamnaya Tribe) and were descends from groups on the North side of the Black Sea. They may have moved west anywhere between the Danube on the South and the Baltic shore on the North and entering  into Europe. Some may have gone through Turkey and up the Danube. Then some went across Austria and France to the British Isles. Others continued on up the Danube to Germany.  Still another group may have come from Western Russia into Germany. Those in Germany had some go into Scandinavia or others going down the Rhine into the Netherlands and onto the British Isles.  I think all this happen and it was like a mixing pot except the parents of Y-DNA called R-U106 and R-P312 had one entry point and it may be that R1b mutated to R-U106 in Germany (maybe Southern Sweden). A new Y SNP mutation occurring, did not cause that one individual to head off by himself in a new direction.  One would expect the new R- P312 or R-U106 individuals all would still live, help, fight and travel together with the rest as one group and only later as the group grew, would the descendants split off for various reasons.

Some think about 3,000 years ago, a few in Ireland and the British Isles moved East (backwards) into other parts of Europe. About 2,500 years ago, Iron Age Forts appeared on hills for protection. About 2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire conquered parts of Europe and  England. The Roman armies carried DNA that was introduced into other parts of Europe. At various times Germanic Tribes entered into the British Isles. About 800 AD, Charlemagne established himself as a ruler in Europe and the Vikings in other parts of Europe sailed with there ships out of Scandinavia into various parts of Europe and the British Isles. The Vikings raided, conquered, colonized and established trade routes. This Viking blood was then mix into the DNA of other parts of Europe. The Normans who had been Vikings conquered England in 1066 AD and the DNA mixing still continues to present.

None European DNA changes also occurred such as the Ice Age ending, man domesticating the dog to use for hunting, Indo-European language, the horse, farming, sailing advances, Bronze Age technology and the Iron age plus many conquests by many armies. These changes had many effects on Europeans in addition to DNA trait changes.

Here is how people existed during the European Ice Age and the DNA Ice Age History. Some say European DNA has changed less than expected since man first arrived in Europe but others disagree. Still Europeans do have some unique traits in there chromosomes such as Y-DNA, height, light skin color, blond hair color, redheads, blue eye color, milk lactose tolerance, and blood type which has evolved over time. Culture and knowledge such as man domesticating the dog to use for hunting, Indo-European language, the horse, farming, sailing advances, Bronze Age technology and the Iron age spread into Europe. This is not a complete list of changes. Some of these characteristics and resulting effects are more common than others. Each of these characteristics and others has its own possible source and history entering into Europe and its DNA.  This is my attempt to give a little understanding on what, when and where it happen. Let us start with Studies illuminate human evolutionary past including location. All the following DNA gene traits are in our various chromosomes that has been pasted down to us and each person may have inherited depending on who our ancestors are.

Each of our traits had its own unique way of entering into Europe including Y-DNA. Y-DNA located on male chromosome Y is only passed down to us by the male line and is similar to how we pass on our male last name. Y-DNA is really our last name before last names started to be used. A 14,000 YBP age grave has been found in Villabruna, Italy that is named R1b1a1a - R-P297 which is a descendant of a Y-DNA called Rib. R-P297 in only one of our ancestors mutated to R-U106 and R-P312. The current theory is that the Yamnaya Tribe or one of its neighbors may have passed down this Y-DNA named Rib before it mutated. The Yamnaya Tribe may have been the carrier for the Y-DNA's Ria and Rib which then become one of the possible carriers for red hair, fairer skin, taller height genes, domestication of the horse, farming, emergence of Bronze Age technology and the Indo-European language and culture. It is estimated that the Yamnaya Tribe with R1b left the Black Sea (Crimea, Ukraine area) starting about 8,000 Years YBP. Some believe that powerful ruling groups of R1b people and there descendants slowly moved about with their traits and culture, then moved into Europe as rulers of groups fathering lots of children over time because of better health and strength resulting in over half the male population being Rib descendants (who knows how it really happen). The R1b descendants slowly made it way into Western Europe about 5,000 years ago at about the time the Bronze age was starting. Rib Y-DNA descendants makes up over half of the males in Europe today and only one  European male grave has been found older than 5,000 years ago (the Villabruna, Italy 14,000 YBP grave). I am from the Rib branch that branches to R-U106 and then to R-L493. Actual 4,000 year old remains have been found in Sweden that are U106+. A leading hypothesis is that U106 arrival in Central Europe is associated with Corded Ware culture arrival in about 2900-2600 BC. Some estimate the Corded Ware migration speed east to west at about 10 miles per year. At the same time the R-U106 population was expected to have been expanding at roughly 40% per generation. Some suggest this could mean that the population would triple or even quadruple within 125 years, and travel over 1000 miles from from where they started. The further distributions of U106 mutating to Z381 mutating to Z18 then mutating to Z301 suggest they probably originated in the same tribe, since similar distributions are now in Europe. Today's U106 population distribution suggest a slow steady growth during its expansion. The Funnelbeaker Culture which was made of with male haplogroup G and I was before the Corded Ware Culture.  It is likely that the Funnelbeaker Culture disappeared and was replaced by the Corded Ware Culture as a population coming into the region, from the east.  At this point, it appears that ancient male DNA showing haplogroup R made an entrance and had a strong presence (e.g. Oblaczkowo) producing the Single Grave Culture. The Single Grave Culture is essentially a subset of the Corded Ware Culture, but most common in the R-U106 hotspots of northern Germany, the Low Countries and southern Scandinavia. Everyone descending from Y-DNA R1b had one common ancestor and the same would be true for the sub groups R-P312 and R-U106. For some reason, R1b Y-DNA and culture associated with it is believe to have caused better health and strength resulting in producing more people and the same would be true for the sub groups R-P312 and R-U106.

One possible history:
1. R1a-M458 takes over North-Eastern Europe to become the main Corded Ware Culture.
2. R1b-L11 takes over North-Western Europe to become the Single Grave Culture.
3. R1b-L11 rapidly diversifies: R-U106 becomes the German/Scandinavia part of the Single Grave Culture, East of the River Elbe.
... Simultaneously, R-P312 becomes the Protruding Foot Beaker culture, west of the Elbe.
4. R-P312 then takes the Bell Beaker culture and spreads it to the rest of Europe.
... While R-U106 remains roughly stationary.
This does not mean there is a strict separation of R1a-M458, R-P312 and R-U106 and subsets of these different Y-DNA male genes most likely existed in all of these cultures.

A light skin color change came into Europe about 7,800 years ago when Near East farmers arrived, carrying light skin genes. The MC1R gene on chromosome 16, the SCL45A2 gene on chromosome 5, and the HERC2 and SLC24A5(golden genes) genes on Chromosome 15 are some of the genes that controls how dark or light our skin is. Genetic analysis has shown that hunter gatherers living in Spain up to 8,500 years ago still had slightly darker skin, black hair and brown eyes. It was not until 7,800 years ago, when the first farmers migrated from the Near East through Turkey that two key genes that provide lighter skin appeared. The first person with these two key genes that provided lighter skin is the common ancestor to everyone with lighter skin.  For some reason, lighter skin is believe to have given a health advantage at that latitude producing more people.

Blond hair color seems to have evolved in Northern climates such as where the Vikings lived. Some of the blond hair DNA genes are found on chromosome 15. The date of the genetic mutation that resulted in blond hair in Europe has been estimated by some to about 11,000 years ago during the ending of the last ice age. The occurrence of blond hair is very frequent in Northern European populations.The first person with this genetic mutation is the common ancestor to everyone with blond hair. For some reason, blond hair is believe to have given a health advantage at that latitude producing more people.

Red hair color appears in higher frequencies on a line that runs North of the 45th Parallel North, running through central France, northern Italy and Croatia. Under the 45th parallel, the UV rays become so strong that it is no longer an advantage to have red hair and very fair skin. Under the 41th parallel, redheads become extremely rare, even in high R1b areas. Redheads have very fair skin, usually lighter than non-redheads. Red hair is an advantage in northern latitudes and very rainy countries, where sunlight is sparse. Lighter skin improves the absorption of sunlight, which is vital for the production of vitamin D by our body. The drawback is that it confers redheads a higher risk for both sunburns and skin cancer. Red hair is a recessive genetic trait caused by a series of mutations in the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), a gene located on chromosome 16. As a recessive trait it must be inherited from both parents to cause the hair to become red. Besides Europeans, the Udmurts, an Uralic tribe living in the northern Volga basin of Russia, between Kazan and Perm, are the only non-Western Europeans to have a high incidence of red hair (over 10%).  All people with red hair share a common ancestry that is traced back to a single individual. For some reason, red hair and fairer skin is believe to have given a health advantage at that latitude producing more people. I had Red hair at one time.

Many Europeans have blue eyes. Blue eyes are caused by DNA changes such as the OCA2 gene found on chromosome 15. Blue eyes and blond hair tend to travel in pairs because both are located on chromosome 15. Where and when did blue eye color originate?  Some think that the elite and nobility that organized the earliest known agricultural civilizations all shared this trait, seemingly coming from the same bloodline. Studies carried out by scientists from the University of Copenhagen have concluded that all blue-eyed people share a common ancestor, someone who lived 6,000 to 10,000 years ago near the area by the Black sea. For some reason, blue eyes is believe to have most likely given a health advantage at that latitude producing more people.

Europeans develop milk lactose tolerance which seems to have given people with this tolerance a health advantage so now most Europeans have developed a lactose tolerance for milk. About 10,000 B.C., a genetic mutation occurred to one individual, somewhere near modern-day Turkey, that allowed the milk lactose tolerance gene on chromosome 2 to permanently stay “on”. Everyone that has this gene has this one individual as a common ancestor. For some reason, milk lactose tolerance is believe to have given a health advantage for European. Some believe that the Funnelbeaker Culture was a carrier of the lactose tolerance gene allowing Northern Europeans to digest lactose and based on DNA in graves were male haplogroup G and I "natives".

Peoples from different areas of Europe have different Blood Types. Blood Group A is more common in Northern Europe. Blood Group O is more common in areas such as Wales. I have Blood Type O Negative and a quarter of my ancestors are from Wales.

Remember, St. Patrick was a Welshman. There were significant migrations between other populations and Wales. The Vikings had settlements in both the British Isles including Wales and parts of Ireland. There has been continued migration across the Irish Sea during Roman times and the Dark Ages. The mixing continues to this day.

I believe different DNA lines develop over a period of time and eventually an individual from each line mate and produce a blended individual.  Over time, the best traits from the two mated lines would  be passed down and form a new better blended line.  This happens over and over.  An example was the mating of the Neanderthals with modern man about 50,000 years ago.  Over time, the best traits of both are passed down.

The traits mentioned above is my limited list and are not limited to the chromosomes mentioned, but most likely have additional locations in other chromosomes.  I am not saying these traits make anyone smarter or better than anyone else, only for the European environment it added a health benefit to those who lived in Europe. The results are happening in such small amounts that it is similar to like saying which direction one specific butterfly fluttered thousands of years ago while traveling through a forest makes a difference on what we inherited.

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Last Modified August 2016
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