Sunday, April 19, 2015

How Little We Know About Ancient DNA

I've frequented several of the Ancient DNA discussion boards lately, and have been flummoxed by the self-important, self-promoted, self-described "experts," who proclaim to know precise migration patterns of Ancient Europeans.

These same "experts" even go so far as to claim to be able to tie specific haplogroups to languages, tribes, and epochs.  They will make broad statements, like, "all of Europe was populated by [this haplogroup or that], which represented the [Cro-Magnons or whatever], until they were replaced, en masse, by the [new Haplogroup.]"

(Often the dominant invader haplogroup in their theories tends to be the one of the posting "expert," but that's just coincidence, I'm sure.)

Contrasting these experts are some bona fide theoreticians, who point out that we have less than 100 samples of Caucasian Ancient DNA, and that a simple cultural fact, for example, if one tribe cremated their dead and another tribe buried their dead, could contribute to the number of ancient skeletons that make it to the present day.

So, what I decided to do was to plot the confirmed ancient NR Y Chromosome haplogroup samples on a map, to show whatever it shows.

What I discovered was a complete lack of any real patterns.  In other words, it's too early to tell.  We need way more aDNA.

I used the excellent data from Ancestral Journeys.  All maps are labeled.  All times and locations are approximate.  All maps are copyrighted, but feel free to share, as long as you link to this page or attribute to me.  (The final map is not mine, but purports to represent modern majorities).

I think from these maps it is clear that several of the widely accepted theories are bunk.  For example, looking at these maps, it is clear that Haplogroup G2 is a candidate too for one of the original populations of Europe.  It was ubiquitous.  The wiseguys all postulate that it originated in the western Caucasus, near where it is currently dominant, and moved west with the migratory herders or agriculturalists.  However, it is just as likely from looking at these maps that it once simply was everywhere, in a band in central Europe, along the major rivers, stretching from northern Spain to the Caucasus, and that its current location is one where it RECEDED to, not originated from.

What other theories can be questioned by these maps?