The questions of who we are and where we come from have been asked for throughout our history. Once we explained our origins with mythology and folklore but now we utilize modern science to answer them. Genetics help us tell the story of our origins from the beginning, through the formation of the human gene pools and to the last 2000 years of history. The test results you have just received, along with the following information, will help you understand your personal story, from the shared history of all humans to your unique family story. Read More
#1 Fennoscandia 19.8%
#2 Western Siberia 12.9%
#3 Sardinia 12.4%
/ / / #1 Fennoscandia
The area known as Fennoscandia encompasses the countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland
At the end of the last Ice Age, the glaciers retreated and hunter-gatherers arrived in northern Europe between 11,000 and 12,000 years ago.1 The presence of hunter-gatherers is known from archaeological evidence and likely came from populations similar to the early, small bands of hunter-gatherers that moved into Europe during the Paleolithic period.
Agriculture appeared in Scandinavia between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago.3-6 Archaeological evidence has shown that this farming culture originated in Central Europe and spread north into Fennoscandia.7 Similar to other regions in Europe, there has been a considerable debate as to whether this evidence for farming meant that immigrants arrived and pushed out the local ancient hunter-gatherers, or whether farming culture was adopted by the people already living in the area.
Recent genetic studies looking at samples of ancient DNA from preserved bones have found differences between prehistoric people and later farming populations,2 suggesting that immigrants may have replaced he locals. There are two major language groups in Scandinavia: the Germanic language of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, and the Finno-Ugric languages of Finland. The division between the Germanic and Finno-Ugric speaking areas has been used as evidence to support the theory that the Baltic region may have been a refuge for earlier hunter-gatherers.2,8 Analysis of Y-chromosome ancestry from Finno-ugric speakers in Scandanavia and areas in north Eurasia points to a high level of diversity. The potential ancient origins of these people dates from 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, when they would have travelled on an ancient Paleolithic migration route that may have gone through Central Asia before turning west to Europe.9
The consensus among researchers today is that the genomes of the people of Fennoscandia are of a mixed ancestry, which is a combination of ancient hunter-gatherers and more recent Germanic farmers. In areas with more extreme cold climates, there remains more original hunter-gatherer influence, likely due to the marginal nature of farming under such conditions. In Finland, some genetic studies have noted potential historic population crashes as evidence for regional genetic distinctiveness, possibly occurring about 3,900 years ago.10 Surviving on farming alone was very difficult in such an extreme climate and there is evidence that farming and foraging cultures coexisted in Finland.1
Between 600 and 700 AD, social changes in Scandinavia marked the start of a migration event that saw the cultures of Scandinavia make their mark on the rest of Europe. It is thought that economic and political stress, as well as a rapid period of agricultural expansion, led people to seek resources and land further afield, catalyzing the start of the Viking Age.11 Various small kingdoms and chiefdoms invaded and colonized many countries within Europe. Vikings raided, and invaded much of Northern and Western Europe, taking over lands in England, Scotland, and France. They moved east into Russia and further to the west into Iceland, Greenland, and ultimately North America. They briefly settled in what is now Canada's province of Newfoundland.12,13 They often mixed in with the local populations, as shown by the mixed British Celtic and Norse origins of Iceland that have been identified both through historical and genetic research.14,15
Viking migration ended in the medieval era but the movement of people from Scandinavia has continued to the present day. In recent centuries there have been migrations to parts of the United States and Canada, with people often moving into the Mid-West, for example to Northern Michigan, where a distinct Finnish immigrant community is well established.16
In the future, we can envision genetic tests that will be able to distinguish between the ancient hunter-gatherer and more recent Germanic farming components. There may also be tests that can link individuals back to ancient DNA extracted from archaeological skeletal material. What may also prove fascinating for historical enthusiasts is the possibility of tests in the future that are able to distinguish specific migrations of Viking settlers to different areas of Europe.
1. Tallavaara M, Pesonen P, Oinonen M. 2010. Prehistoric population history in eastern Fennoscandia. J Archaeol Sci 37: 251-260.
2. Skoglund P, Malmström H, Raghavan M, Storå J, Hall P, Willerslev E, Gilbert MTP, Götherström A, Jakobsson M. 2012. Origins and genetic legacy of Neolithic farmers and hunter-gatherers in Europe. Science, 336: 466-469.
3. Taavitsainen JP, Simola H, Grönlund E. 1998. Cultivation history beyond the periphery: early agriculture in the North European Boreal forest. J World Prehist 12: 199-253.
4. Vuorela I. 1998. The transition to farming in Southern Finland. In: Zvelebil M, Dennell R, Domanska L. Eds. Harvesting the Sea, Farming the Forest: The Emergence of the Neolithic Societies in the Baltic Region. Sheffield Academic Press: Sheffield, pp. 175-180.
5. Shennan S, Edinborough K. 2007. Prehistoric population history: from the Late Glacial to the Late Neolithic in Central and Northern Europe. J Archaeol Sci 34: 1339-1345.
6. Taavitsainen JP, Vilkuna J, Forssell H, 2007. Suojoki at Keuruu - a mid-14th century site of wilderness culture in Central Finland. Suomalaisen Tiedeakatemian toimituksia Humaniora 346. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae: Finland.
7. Zvelebil M, Dolukhanov P. 1991. The transition to farming in eastern and northern Europe. J World Prehist 5: 233-278.
8. Malmström H, Gilbert MTP, Thomas MG, Brandström M, Storå J, Molnar P, Andersen PK, Benedixen C, Holmlund G, Götherström A, Willerslev, E. 2009. Ancient DNA reveals lack of continuity between neolithic hunter-gatherers and contemporary Scandinavians. Curr Biol 19: 1758-1762.
9. Siiri R, Zhivotovsky LA, Baldovi M, Kayser M, Kutuev IA, Khusainova R, Bermisheva MA, Gubina M, Fedorova SA, Ilumäe A, Khusnutdinova EK, Voevoda MI, Osipova LP, Stoneking M, Lin AA, Ferak V, Parik J, Kivisild T, Underhill PA, Villems R. 2007. ""A counter-clockwise northern route of the Y-chromosome haplogroup N from Southeast Asia towards Europe"". Eur J Hum Genet 15: 204-211.
10. Sajantila A, Salem AH, Savolainen P, Bauer K, Gierig C, Pääbo S. 1996. Paternal and maternal DNA lineages reveal a bottleneck in the founding of the Finnish population. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93: 12035-12039.
11. Myhre B. 2000. The early Viking Age in Norway. Acta Archaeologica 71: 35-47.
12. Ingstad H, Ingstad AS. 2000. The Viking Discovery of America: The Excavation of a Norse Settlement in L'Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland. Breakwater Books: St John.
13. Brink S, Price N. 2008. The Viking World. Routledge: London.
14. Helgason A, Sigurðardóttir S, Nicholson J, Sykes B, Hill EW, Bradley DG, Bosnes V, Gulcher JR, Ward R, Stefánsson K. 2000. Estimating Scandinavian and Gaelic ancestry in the male settlers of Iceland. Am J Hum Genet 67: 697-717.
15. Byock JL. 2001. Viking Age Iceland. Penguin UK: London.
Gedicks A. 1977. Ethnicity, Class Solidarity, and Labor Radicalism among Finnish Immigrants in Michigan Copper Country. Polit Soc 7: 127-156.
/ / / #2 Western Siberia
Siberia's vast, open landscape has been the stage for the movement of people and cultures to many regions of
The harsh, arid conditions of Siberia have meant that population density has always remained low with nomadic foraging as the main living pattern for most of the region's history. 2 The region is known for reindeer breeding. In other areas of the world agricultural innovations led to significant displacement, colonization, and mixing of Paleolithic groups, but in the steppes of Western Siberia, far less intermixing has occurred. This has attracted the attention of geneticists attempting to determine who were the original Paleolithic peoples that migrated through Siberia.3,4
Precisely how the earliest inhabitants of Siberia arrived in the region is still subject to debate. Routes up through China and Mongolia are strongly suggested, along with other routes from further west towards Europe.5,6 The earliest dated archaeological evidence for human habitation has been found in the Altai Mountains and dates to 45,000 years ago.7,8 Many of the early groups maintained nomadic lifestyles well into the 20th century and much research has gone into identifying them through their linguistic heritage. The two major linguistic groups are the Samoyedic and Ugrian languages. Speakers of Samoyedic language include the Nenets, Enets, Nganasan, and the Selkup, while Ugrian includes Khanty and Mansi.1,9 These two linguistic groups are thought to be related. Studies of Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA lineages have related the Khanty and Mansi to both west and east Eurasian gene pools.10
There is another small group that lives in the region known as the Kets, who number around 1,000 people today and possibly less. They speak an Eastern Siberian language known as Yeniseian, which is related to Yukaghir, Nivkh, and Chukotko-Kamchatkan.1 It is believed that at one time these people were more widespread within Western Siberia and may have arrived in the area prior to Samoyedic and Uralic peoples. Their language may be related to those found among some Native American groups such as Athabascan, which provides a link to the people of the Americas.11 Native Americans are thought to be directly related to eastern Siberians and some Y-chromosome studies have found that the Kets share more in common with nearby Samoyedic and Ugric groups.5 Recent mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA studies of related Altai mountain people that focus on Tungusic and Yeniseian speakers have also established a possible link with Native Americans.12 Although more recent mixing between Yeniseians and Samoyedic and/or Ugrian peoples has made this picture unclear.
The Russians arrived and colonized Siberia between the 17th and 19th centuries. This involved significant Russian migration into Siberia. Farming and resource extraction became a major economic focus of the Russian state in the 20th century.13 While most of the people that live in Siberia arrived through recent colonial migration, there has been very little intermixing between indigenous groups and Russian settlers. This period also involved the relocation of native groups and disturbance of traditional ethnic boundaries.
Future testing may be able to determine ancestry attributed to a specific Western Siberian peoples. There are also many further possibilities of tracing very ancient migration routes such as those that went west into eastern Europe and those that went into North America. It may also be possible to find out the proportion of ancient Siberian DNA a person has and their relationship with Native Americans. Tests that assess one's connection with specific linguistic groups may also be possible.
1. Vajda EJ. 2009. The languages of Siberia. Lang Linguist Comp 3: 424-440.
2. Rychkov YG, Sheremet'eva VA. 1980. The genetics of circumpolar populations of Eurasia related to the problem of human adaptation. In The Human Biology of Circumpolar Populations. F. Milan. ed. Cambridge University Press: London 37-80.
3. Cavalli-Sforza LL. 1986. African Pygmies. Academic Press: Orlando.
4. Cavalli-Sforza LL, Menozzi P, Piazza A. 1994. The History and Geography of Human Genes. Princeton University Press: Princeton.
5. Rubicz R, Melvin KL, Crawford MH. 2002. Genetic evidence for the phylogenetic relationship between Na-Dene and Yeniseian speakers. Hum Biol 74: 743-760.
6. Derev'anko AP. 1998. A short history of discoveries and the development of ideas in the Paleolithic of Siberia. In The Paleolithic of Siberia: New Discoveries and Interpretations. Derev'anko AP. ed. University of Illinois Press: Urbana. pp. 5-12.
7. Goebel T, Derevianko AP, Petrin VT. 1993. Dating the Middle-to-Upper-Paleolithic transition at Kara-Bom. Curr Anthropol 34: 452-458.
8. Kuzmin Y, Orlova LA. 1998. Radiocarbon chronology of the Siberian Paleolithic. J. World Prehist 12:1-53.
9. Jordan P, Filchenko A. 2005. Continuity and change in Eastern Khanty language and worldview. Rebuilding identities: pathways to reform in post-Soviet Siberia. Casten E. ed. Dietrich Reimer: Berlin. pp. 63-89.
10. Pimenoff VN, Comas D, Palo JU, Vershubsky G, Kozlov A, Sajantila A. 2008. Northwest Siberian Khanty and Mansi in the junction of West and East Eurasian gene pools as revealed by uniparental markers. Eur J Hum Genet 16: 1254-1264.
11. Ruhlen M. 1998. The origin of the Na-Dene. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95: 13994-13996.
12. Dulik MC, Zhadanov SI, Osipova LP, Askapuli A, Gau L, Gokcumen O, Rubinstein S, Schurr TG. 2012. Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome variation provides evidence for a recent common ancestry between Native Americans and Indigenous Altaians. Am J Hum Genet 90: 229-246.
13. Forsyth J. 1994. A history of the peoples of Siberia: Russia's North Asian colony 1581-1990. Cambridge University Press: London.
/ / / #3 Sardinia
For many years the island of Sardinia has fascinated geneticists and anthropologists because of its long
Evidence for human habitation in Sardinia extends back to the middle Paleolithic period. A stone tool culture that was distinct from neighboring regions had appeared by 15,000 years ago.8 Deer hunting was a major part of Paleolithic subsistence.9,10 The arrival of farming is associated with a subsequent rise in population. Complex civilization developed during the Bronze Age between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago, and fortified towers known as Nuraghe began to be built.11 Bronze Age Sardinia traded within a network of ancient societies that was centered in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean.
Between 2,700 and 2,800 years ago, the Phoenecians of the Eastern Mediterranean brought Sardinia within their trading empire, marking the island's first appearance in historical records. Later, Carthaginians disrupted the Greco-Roman influence and asserted control over all Sardinian trade. There remained, however, little evidence for major migration into Sardinia except for a small number of Carthaginian elites.12 This period of comparative stability under Carthaginian influence lasted until the Punic Wars in the 3rd century BC, which brought the island under direct control of Rome. This led to a political process that turned the island into a Roman province.13
When the Roman Empire split into western and eastern sections, the eastern portion was reformed as a new political entity known as the Byzantine Empire, in which Sardinia was included. The Byzantines faced threats from the Arabs to the south as well as other external raiding groups coming from other areas within Europe. Arab raids on the island that occurred between 807 and 813 AD caused significant disruption of economic activity in Sardinia, although there was no substantive colonization of the island by these invaders. The island became isolated during this period of instability.12
Between the 8th and 10th centuries, Sardinia became increasingly autonomous and a local system known as the Giudicati or ‘judges' developed on the island. In subsequent centuries there was an increasing frequency of interactions with Italy and papal influences, resulting in the establishment of monastic orders. Rivalry among the Italian states of Pisa, Genoa and the Catalonian Crown of Aragon led to the formation of a Kingdom of Sardinia. After this period, the Kingdom of Sardinia was subsumed into the unified Italian state in which it remains to the present day.14 Sardinians began to migrate from the islands to the Americas during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to both South America and the United States.15
Sardinia is unique within Europe in that there has been relatively little documented migration to the island from surrounding areas since the beginning of the Bronze Age. Despite such genetic isolation, Sardinia has a long history of interaction with its Mediterranean neighbors in terms of both trade and political union, particularly Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean. This has made the region extremely attractive for geneticists, and many studies have looked at the various populations on the island.
Recent genetic investigations described Sardinians in the central-southern and mountain areas as a heterogeneous population. Today's Sardinians are known to exhibit unique genetic signatures that indicate their village of origin.16
Future genetic tests may be able to place an individual's ancestry within the many distinct parts of the island. For example, these genetic tests may be able to link Eastern Mediterraneans to ancient trade with Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans or Arabic raiders from coastal areas.
1. Vona G. 1997. The peopling of Sardinia (Italy): history and effects. Int J Anthropol 12: 71-87.
2. Workman PL, Lucarelli P, Agostino R, Scarabino R, Scacchi R, Carapella E, Palmarino R, Bottini E (1975) Genetic differentiation among Sardinian villages. Am J Phys Anthropol 43:165-176
3. Rosatelli MC, Dozy A, Faa V, Meloni A, Sardu R, Saba L, Kan YW, Cao A (1992) Molecular characterization of beta-thal- assemia in the Sardinian population. Am J Hum Genet 50: 422-426.
4. Loudianos G, Dessi V, Lovicu M, Angius A, Figus A, Lilliu F, De Virgiliis S, Nurchi AM, Deplano A, Moi P, Pirastu M, Cao A (1999) Molecular characterization of Wilson disease in the Sardinian population - evidence of a founder effect. Hum Mutat 14:294-303.
5. Angius A, Melis PM, Morelli L, Petretto E, Casu G, Maestrale G, Fraumene C, Bebbere D, Forabosco P, Pirastu M. 2001. Archival, demographic and genetic studies define a Sardinian sub-isolate as a suitable model for mapping complex traits. Hum Genet 109: 198-209.
6. Morelli L, Melis P, Angius A, Casu G, Robledo R, Cabras S, Pirastu M. 1999. Searching for founders of multifactorial disorders in Sardinia. Human Evolution, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, USA, October 4-8. Cold Spring Harbor Press: Cold Spring Harbor.
7. Sotgiu S, Pugliatti M, Sanna A, Sotgiu A, Castiglia P, Solinas G, Dolei A, Serra C, Bonetti B, Rosati G. 2002. Multiple sclerosis complexity in selected populations: the challenge of Sardinia, insular Italy1. Eur J Neurol 9: 329-341.
8. Hofmeijer GK, Alderliesten C, Houston CM, Martini F, Sauges M, Sondaar PY. 1989. Dating of the upper Pleistocene lithic industry of Sardinia. Radiocarbon 31: 986-991.
9. Sondaar PY, Sanges M, Kotsakis T de Boer PL. 1986. The Pleistocene deer hunter of Sardinia. Geobios 19: 17-25.
10. Spoor CF, Sondaar PY. 1986, Human fossils from the endemic island fauna of Sardinia: J Hum Evol 15: 399-408.
11. Kolb MJ. 2014. Monumentality among the Mediterranean Isles. In Approaching Monumentality in Archaeology, Osbourne JF. ed. State University of New York Press: Albany pp.154-180.
12. Dyson SL, Rowland Jr, RJ. 2007. Archaeology and history in Sardinia from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages: shepherds, sailors, and conquerors. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology: Philadelphia.
13. Hoyos BD. 1998. Unplanned Wars: The Origins of the First and Second Punic Wars (Vol. 50). Walter de Gruyter: Berlin.
14. Zariski R. 1983. The Establishment of the Kingdom of Italy as a Unitary State: A case study in regime formation. Publius: 1-19.
15. Unali L, Mulas F. 1988. Sardinian Immigration to the Americas Since 1900 Projected into the Year 2000. Center for Migration Studies Special Issues 6: 109-116.
16. Elhaik, E., et al., Geographic population structure analysis of worldwide human populations infers their biogeographical origins. Nature Communications, 2014.
* The GPS Origins test is an Autosomal (SNP) test that is not gender specific. Although both Migration Patterns represent your Maternal and Paternal DNA route, we cannot differentiate which route is specifically your parents’ individual route at this time.
Origin: Peaks in the Iceland and Norway and declines in Finland, England, and France
Origin: Peaks in Krasnoyarsk Krai and declines towards east Russia
Origin: Peaks in Sardinia and declines in Italy, Greece, Albania, and The Balkans
Origin: Peaks in the Orkney islands and declines in England, France, Germany, Belarus, and Poland
Origin: Peaks in south France and declines in north France, England, Orkney islands, and Scandinavia
Origin: Peaks in France and Spain Basque regions and declines in Spain, France, and Germany
Origin: Endemic to south eastern india with residues in Pakistan
Origin: Peaks in south Siberia (Russians: Tuvinian) and declines in North Mongolia
Origin: Peaks in North India (Dharkars, Kanjars) and declines in Pakistan
Origin: Peaks in Peru, Mexico, and North America and declines in Eastern Russia
Origin: Peaks in Mexico and Central America with residues in Peru
Origin: Peaks in Algeria and declines in Morocco and Tunisia
The questions of who we are and where we come from have been asked for throughout our history. Once we explained our origins with mythology and folklore but now we utilize modern science to answer them.
Genetics help us tell the story of our origins from the beginning, through the formation of the human gene pools and to the last 2000 years of history.
The test results you have just received, along with the following information, will help you understand your personal story, from the shared history of all humans to your unique family story.
Our origins lie far beyond the first appearance of humans, with an evolutionary story common to many forms of life on earth. About 360 million years ago fish-like creatures ventured out of the Devonian Sea and became the first reptiles. After hundreds of millions years of evolution the mammals emerged after the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago thrust them into the evolutionary spotlight, and allowed them to expand into the world the dinosaurs left vacant.
Our human story really begins with the origin of primates, which split away from the other mammalian groups between 65 and 80 million years ago. It would be at least another 60 million years before the appearance of the species Ardipithecus, an ape that evolved from the Old World Monkeys and is regarded as the first fossil human ancestor.
Fossil finds from Ardipithecus in Ethiopia date it to between 4 and 6 million years ago.12 This species could walk on two legs like humans but shared other characteristics with chimpanzees. Ardipithecus further developed into a number of lineages found throughout East Africa and South Africa that are known as the Australopithecines.13
Over the next 3 million years, many Australopithecine species appeared in Africa but they evolved little; their brains remained roughly the same size as those of chimpanzees and they did not use tools. Around 3 million years ago, the subspecies Homo habilis14 began using stone tools, and by 1.5 million years ago the fire-mastering Homo erectus appeared. Fossils reveal that Homo erectus had a much bigger brain than its Australopithecine ancestors. This subspecies began spreading across much of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, while the Australopithecines began to disappear.15
Next, a new human subspecies, the Neanderthals, appeared. They evolved from a Homo erectus relative outside of Africa and had spread widely throughout Europe and the Middle East 500,000 years ago.16 Neanderthals had stocky builds and thick limbs and were specially adapted to the Ice Age conditions. There is evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead, a practice once thought exclusive to modern humans,17,18 which raises questions about the nature of the Neanderthal’s genetic contribution to modern humans.19
It is thought that the ancestor of modern humans is one of the Homo erectus relatives, which appeared in East Africa sometime between 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
Many different ancient human species also evolved outside Africa, and persisted for more than a million years of geologic time. Their fossils have been unearthed in Europe, Southeast Asia, and China. Yet this diversity had all but disappeared by 100,000 years ago, and human fossils became remarkably uniform across the globe.23
The theory that has become known as the Out of Africa model began with a study in the late 1980s, investigating small changes in the DNA carried by the mitochondria - the DNA passed down by the mother.24 The study analyzed DNA changes in the mitochondrial genome, and surmised that all humans diverged from a single ancestor living 200,000 years ago in Africa. While this does not indicate that there was just one mother, or ‘African Eve’, for all humanity, the results suggested that all humans alive today descended from a single population residing in Africa more recently than any of the previously mentioned early human species.
The Out of Africa model has also been applied to research on the Y chromosome.25,26 This chromosome is found only in male lineages and passed down through the generations, unchanged for the most part. A recent study estimates that the ‘African Adam’ lived 208,000 years ago27.
Mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA have been our primary tools for deciphering the human story because each person receives only one copy from each parent. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from the mother and Y chromosomal DNA from the father, allowing scientists to track the ancestry of both the maternal and paternal lines. Perhaps one of the most interesting stories told by the mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA is how humans colonized the world.
The earliest human migrants appear to have reached Southern China some 80,000 years ago28, and DNA studies suggest they may have interbred with Neanderthals on their way through the Middle East.29 They then spread to the rest of Asia along a route that probably tracks south of the Himalayas and into East Asia between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago,30 possibly interbreeding with another subspecies known as the Denisovians.31
Archaeological and genetic evidence indicate that modern humans crossed the ocean from Southeast Asia and reached the islands near the tropical Pacific area of Oceania as far back as 50,000 years ago, probably in small water craft.32 At the same time, populations spread to Europe through Turkey and into Central Asia. Some of these Central Asian migrants subsequently moved westward from the Ural Mountains and may be represented today by the peoples of Northern Europe and of the Baltic region, such as the Sami people.
Climate and geography delayed further migrations of modern humans into other areas of the world. Much of northern Eurasia was extremely cold during the last Ice Age (11,000 to 12,000 years ago) and human populations remained small and isolated. A small group of people from Siberia, however, managed to reach North America around 18,000 years ago33 by way of a land bridge that existed when sea levels were lower. They moved south, and by 15,000 years ago, began to populate South America.
There were several more migratory waves to the Americas with the most recent being the Inuit, who colonized the Arctic of North America between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago.
Asian migration also continued eastwards to Oceania. The large islands of Oceania that are closest to Asia have been inhabited for at least 30,000 years, while the most isolated islands of Northeastern Oceania remained uninhabited until just 3,500 years ago.34,35 The people who made the first voyages into this region were Austronesians, a group that emigrated from an area around present day Taiwan and are today known as Polynesians.
But as the last Ice Age came to an end and the climate warmed, a human cultural revolution was about to start, and it began in the Middle East.
The transition from hunter-gathering to farming occurred in the Middle East between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago,36 and between 9,000 and 10,000 years ago in China37 and parts of the Americas.38,39 By 5,000 years ago agriculture had facilitated the rise of some of the first large civilizations such as Mesopotamia in West Asia,40 the Maya in Central America,41 and the earliest Chinese civilizations along the Yangtze.42
Early farming cultures then expanded into new areas. Farmers from the Middle East brought agriculture to Europe and rice farming travelled with groups across East Asia. This expansion was accompanied by a genetic reshuffling as different groups came into contact and reproduced. Such reshuffling has been a continuous process over the last 10,000 years.
Genetic research has played a key role in understanding the migrations that took place during this period. Mitochondrial DNA lineages have been used to confirm and enhance archaeological interpretations such as tracing the ancestry of Norse and Gaelic populations, and Y chromosomal studies have been used to track male lineages in studies of Oceania.
As humans traversed the globe and colonized different continents each group accumulated small differences in their DNA. Most of these differences or mutations occurred in the X chromosome and autosomal chromosomes that are inherited from both parents and allows us to follow the specific journeys made by each human group.
Some genetic roads diverged, not meeting again until modern times, while others led back to one another as genetically distinct groups. The accumulations of mutations in people from different areas of the world are what allow us today to distinguish different groups from one another.
DNA mutations may have been enhanced by the custom of marrying within an tribe, class, or social group, creating a group of people who were more similar to one another genetically than they were to their ancestors and neighboring groups - in other words, creating a new gene pool or genetic origin..
It is difficult to know exactly how many gene pools there are because every geneltic origin includes “gene puddles” where small, isolated groups of people married only within their local group, acquiring and maintaining unique mutations over time. At this time, scientists have identified about forty gene pools from all over the world. Over time, some of these gene pools spilled toward? each other, particularly those in Eurasia, whereas other pools remained more constant.
As ancient peoples traded, conquered, enslaved and fell in love, they spread their genes, along with their unique mutations, across larger areas at an increasingly rapid pace, interweaving previously distinct parts of the original gene pools. If, in the past, human groups diverged from one another and became genetically distinct, recent history has been characterized by populations coming together creating new genetic tapestries out of the original genetic origin. Today, every one of us is the product of these historical genetic exchanges: it is extremely rare to find individuals whose DNA belongs to a single gene pool.
Because the X and autosomal chromosomes contain the accumulated mutations that correspond with different gene pools, they provides a more nuanced picture of historical interactions in the past. Your genetic origin results will show you how your genome is linked to the human story of the populations who lived 60,000-15,000 years ago.
The past 2,000 years of human history have seen the rise and fall of empires that spanned entire continents, such as the Persian, Roman, Mongol, Arab Caliphate and most recently, the British Empire.
The expansion of European empires brought European DNA to many different parts of the world such as Australia, Asia and particularly the Americas, where the intermingling of Europeans and native tribes has led to many central and south Americans having mixed ancestry.
Pandemics, such as the Black Death in Europe and smallpox in the Americas caused widespread devastation. Conquests by Viking raiders reshaped entire cultures and identities. All of these events have left their mark in the DNA of present-day populations.
Countries such as the United States, which have experienced large waves of migration from different areas in the last two hundred years have facilitated the further mixing of many different gene pools.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries the slave trade brought up to 650,000 Africans to the United States. They were joined by 4.5 million Irish people who escaped famine and poverty between 1820 and 1930, Other groups to enter the United States between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries include about 5 million Germans, over 2 million European jews, 4 million Italians and up to 300,000 Chinese.
Consequently, these migrations merged gene pools that had, thus far, remained largely separate due to geographical barriers. Many Americans and British now share genetic origins with up to a dozen different gene pools, some of which have diverged more than 60,000 years ago, such as the European and Native American gene pools.
Your GPS Origins results reveal your genetic origins and the journey your DNA has made with end-points recorded each time the DNA has markedly changed through intermarriages.
For example, if you have Scottish ancestry your results could show that you are descended from the Viking ancestors who arrived in the Medieval era, but did not mix with Scots and retained their Danish origin. If you are African American, you may learn about connections to the Bantu peoples and the pre-colonial trading kingdoms in West Africa. If you are an Ashkenazic Jew, GPS Origins may trace your origin to the ancient Ashkenaz in northeastern Turkey.
Ongoing genetic research of archaeological remains could mean that, in the future, you may be able to match your background with a range of individuals - whether that is an ancient Mayan King found in a temple complex in Guatemala, a warrior from a Viking boat burial or a flint-knapping craftsman from Mesolithic Germany. The human story, as told through our genes, is only beginning.
Now, you are ready to see your results.
Out of Africa Story References:
1. Nielsen PE, Engholm M, Berg RH, Buchardt O. 1991. Science 254: 1497–1500.
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