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 Austronesian Oceania 33.4%
#2 Austronesian Southeast Asia 27.1%
#3 Central America 6.4%
/ / / #1 Austronesian Oceania
Austronesians are one of the most diverse and widely spread groups on the planet
Austronesian Southeast Asia was once home to several species of early human ancestors. The famous ‘Java Man' fossil dates to around 1 million years old and came from Indonesia.2 There have been multiple finds of Homo erectus, an early human species, throughout Southeast Asia. More recently, there has been the discovery of the Flores hominid, or the ‘hobbit,' which may have been a dwarfed ancient human species that lived on an isolated island until only some tens of thousands of years ago.3
Archaeological evidence for modern humans appears between 34,000 and 46,000 years ago in the Niah Caves of Malaysia.4,5 In the Philippines, there are traces of modern humans at the Tabon caves dating from 45,000 years ago. These early people are not thought to represent Austronesians and may have been related to Southeast Asian groups collectively known as Negritos.6.7,8
Austronesians were thought to have originated from the area around Taiwan, after having passed through southern China. It is thought that they spread throughout Southeast Asia no earlier than 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, and there is evidence of Austronesians arriving in Indonesia from Taiwan and the Philippines 4,500 years ago.9
Taiwan played a significant role in migrations into Oceania.10 Archaeological evidence has shown that humans have been in Taiwan since between 6000 and 3000 BC.11 Studies of how the languages have diversified indicate that Austronesian languages have been present for at least 4,000 years. A strong link with Chinese society has been established during this time, and there is evidence technological innovations from China were brought into the area.12
It is likely that the Austronesians spread so successfully because of their use of rice farming, which had developed in China and spread throughout Southeast Asian during the Bronze Age.13 Multiple kingdoms emerged after the adoption of agriculture, such as the early Hindu kingdoms of Tarumanagara in the 4th to 7th centuries AD,14 and Srivijaya in the 8th century AD.15 These early kingdoms were influenced by their trading relationships with various cultures of India. By the 13th century, the first Muslim kingdoms appear in Indonesia and developed into a series of Sultanates.
Austronesian Southeast Asia became the focus of European traders during the early days of the spice trade, and present day Indonesia became part of the Dutch East Indies. Indonesia's multiple ethnicities have only recently been brought into a single political entity, which was created by the Dutch trading empire in colonial times, and gained independence in 1945.9 Other present day countries in Austronesian Southeast Asia have had similar colonial histories, with the exception of Taiwan, which has been the subject of mass migration from China, and is now dominated by Han Chinese.
Mitochondrial DNA sequences have linked the native Austronesians of Taiwan with other Southeast Asian populations and the people of northeastern Oceania.16,17 Mitochondrial DNA analysis of indigenous Taiwanese populations have indicated that these populations have been present for a substantial period of time and many have deep ancestry linking them back to southern China.12
1. Bellwood P, Fox JJ, Tryon D. 2006. The Austronesians in History: Common Origins and Diverse Transformation. In Bellwood P, Fox JJ, Tryon D. eds. The Austronesians: Historical and comparative perspectives. ANU E Press: Canberra. pp. 1-13.
2. Swisher CC, Rink WJ, Antón SC, Schwarcz HP, Curtis GH, Widiasmoro AS. 1996. Latest Homo erectus of Java: potential contemporaneity with Homo sapiens in Southeast Asia. Science 274: 1870-1874.
3. Brown P, Sutikna T, Morwood MJ, Soejono RP, Saptomo EW, Due RA. 2004. A new small-bodied hominin from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia. Nature 431: 1055-1061.
4. Barker G, Barton H, Beavitt P, Bird M, Daly P, Doherty C, Gilbertson D, Hunt C, Krigbaum J, Lewis H, Manser J, McClaren S, Paz V, Piper P, Pyatt B, Rabett R, Reynolds T, Rose J, Rushworth G, Stephens, M. 2002. Prehistoric foragers and farmers in South-east Asia: Renewed investigations at Niah Cave, Sarawak. In Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (Vol. 68, pp. 147-164). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
5. Barker G, Barton H, Bird M, Daly P, Datan I, Dykes A, Farr L, Gilbertson D, Harrisson B, Hunt C, Higham T, Kealhoger L, Krigbaum J, Lewis H, McLaren S, Paz V, Alistair P, Piper P, Pyatt B, Rabett R, Reynolds T, Rose J, Rushworth G, Stephens M, Stringer C, Thompson J, Turney, C. 2007. The ‘human revolution' in lowland tropical Southeast Asia: the antiquity and behavior of anatomically modern humans at Niah Cave (Sarawak, Borneo). J Hum Evol 52: 243-261.
6. Détroit F, Corny J, Dizon EZ, Mijares AS. 2013. “Small size” in the Philippine human fossil record: Is it meaningful for a better understanding of the evolutionary history of the negritos?. Hum Biol 85: 45-66.
7. Hanihara T. 1992. Negritos, Australian Aborigines, and the “proto‐sundadont” dental pattern: The basic populations in East Asia, V. Am J Phys Anthropol 88: 183-196.
8. Thangaraj K, Singh L, Reddy AG, Rao VR, Sehgal SC, Underhill PA, Pierson M, Frame IG, Hagelberg E. 2003. Genetic affinities of the Andaman Islanders, a vanishing human population. Curr Biol 13: 86-93.
9. Drakeley S. 2005. The history of Indonesia. Greenwood Press: Westport.
10. P Bellwood. 1995. Austronesian prehistory in Southeast Asia: homeland, expansion, and transformation. In Bellwood P, Fox JJ, Tryon D. eds. The Austronesians: historical and comparative perspectives, Department of Anthropology, Comparative Austronesian Project, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. Australian National University Press: Canberra pp. 96-111.
11. Chang KC. 1969. Fengpitou, Tapenkeng, and the prehistory of Taiwan. No. 73. In: Publications in Anthropology. Yale University Press: New Haven.
12. Melton T, Clifford S, Martinson J, Batzer M, Stoneking M. 1998. Genetic evidence for the proto-Austronesian homeland in Asia: mtDNA and nuclear DNA variation in Taiwanese aboriginal tribes. Am J Hum Genet 63: 1807-1823.
13. Higham C. 1996. The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
14. Wessing R. 2011. Tarumanagara: What's in a name?. J Southe Asian Stud 42: 325-337.
15. Wolters OW. 1970. The fall of Srivijaya in Malay history. Lund Humphries: London.
16. Melton T, Peterson R, Redd AJ, Saha N, Sofro ASM, Martinson J, Stoneking M. 1995. Polynesian genetic affinities with Southeast Asian populations as identified by mtDNA analysis. Am J Hum Genet 57: 403-414.
17. Sykes B, Leiboff A, Low-Beer J, Tetzner S, Richards M. 1995. The origins of the Polynesians: an interpretation from mitochondrial lineage analysis. Am J Hum Genet 57: 1463-1475.
/ / / #2 Austronesian Southeast Asia
The arrival of people on the islands of Northeast Oceania is a remarkable example of human achievement
Archaeological evidence indicates that modern humans moved into the large islands of western and southern Oceania at least 30,000 years ago.1 The islands of this region are typically visible from each other and would have been big enough to support large foraging populations. This would have made colonization and movement between islands relatively easy. However, the much smaller and more spread out islands in remote areas of Northeast Oceania remained uninhabited until only 3,500 years ago.
Archaeological evidence from the first people to arrive in the area points to a link with cultures in East Asia, in particular an archaeological culture known as Lapita, found in present-day Taiwan.2-4 These first settlers were likely to have spoken an Austronesian language. They brought with them distinct pottery-making traditions, which spread across a large number of islands in a short period of time. This has been taken to indicate a single, rapid migration through the islands.3,4 Experts have also suggested that the languages of Northeast Oceania have their origin in the area around Taiwan, some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago.2,5,6
The people who migrated into Northeast Oceania lived in relative isolation after these initial colonization events, and were only brought back into contact with the rest of the world during the period of European exploration and colonization. Many of the islands were brought under colonial control by countries such as France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Hawaii is included in this group, as are Fiji and Samoa. The European and American emigration to some of these islands was limited and mixing between them and the native and non-native populations was considered uncommon.
Evidence from mitochondrial DNA suggests that many people from the region may have come from Indonesia,7 even though some of the language and archaeological evidence points towards Taiwan. Today, Taiwan is dominated by Han Chinese, but it has historically been the home of many Austronesian peoples. There may have been significant intermixing between Papuans and Austronesians at the edges of their respective areas, as demonstrated by some Y-chromosome studies.8 Mitochondrial DNA analysis shows a higher degree of continuity among Austronesian-speaking areas, while Y-chromosome data link more with Papuans.9 Additional DNA evidence demonstrated a relationship with other Eurasian populations.10
Future testing may be able to distinguish individual Austronesian components that relate to specific areas of Oceania. This may also lead to testing that can provide a better understanding of the routes that the Austronesian migrations took out of Asia.
1. Wickler S, Spriggs M. 1988. Pleistocene human occupation of the Solomon Islands, Melanesia. Antiq 62:703-706.
2. Bellwood P. 1985. Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. University of Hawai'i Press; Honolulu.
3. Kirch PV. 1997. The Lapita Peoples: Ancestors of the Oceanic World. Blackwell Publishers: Oxford.
4. Kirch PV. 2000. On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact. University of California Press: Berkeley.
5. Blust R. 1995. The position of Formosan languages: Methods and theory in Austronesian comparative linguistics. In Austronesian Studies relating to Taiwan Li PJK. ed. Symposium Series of the Institute of History and Philology. Academia Sinica, Taipei 3: 585-650.
6. Gray R D, Drummond AJ, Greenhill SJ. 2009. Language phylogenies reveal expansion pulses and pauses in Pacific settlement. Science, 323: 479-483.
7. Oppenheimer SJ, Richards M. 2001. Polynesian origins. Slow boat to Melanesia? Nature 410:166-167.
8. Underhill, P.A., G. Passarino, A.A. Lin et al. 2001. Maori origins, Y-chromosome haplotypes and implications for human history in the Pacific. Hum Mutat 17:271-280.
9. Lum JK, Jorde LB, Schiefenhovel W. 2002. Affinities among Melanesians, Micronesians, and Polynesians: a neutral, biparental genetic perspective. Hum Biol 74: 413-430.
10. Wollstein A, Lao O, Becker C, Brauer S, Trent RJ, Nürnberg P, Stoneking M, Kayser M. 2010. Demographic history of Oceania inferred from genome-wide data. Curr Biol 20: 1983-1992.
/ / / #3 Central America
Central America is located on the strip of land that lies between South America and Mexico, and includes the
The first inhabitants of the region arrived between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago at the end of the last major Ice Age,2 and were part of the major early migration that brought people to the Americas from Siberia. Stone tools created by the Clovis culture were found dating to this period and were similar to Clovis tools found throughout North America.3-6There has been continuous habitation of the Central American land bridge since this time.
A number of plants, including gourds, maize and manioc, were at least partially domesticated by between 7,000 and 4,500 years ago.7 Manioc is thought to have originated in South America8,9 and arrived in Central America between 7,000 and 9,000 years ago.10 Maize farming has its origins in Southwest Mexico11 prior to spreading into Central America. Ceramics cultures linked to South American traditions appeared 4,000 years ago, and are considered evidence of cultural con-tact.2Early societies never became greater in size than chiefdoms before the arrival of Europeans, and did not possess any writing systems.
In areas of Central America close to Mayan Mexico and Guatemala there was an influx of Mesoa-merican Maya. Substantial Mayan cities appeared in northern areas of Guatemala, notably at the site of Tikal, and there were also many Mayan sites in Belize. Mayan trade goods could be found spread throughout Central America to the south.12-14 Linguistic evidence and historical documents show that between the years 1000 and 1500 AD, Mesoamerican people pushed into much of Northern Central America. Additional evidence showed there was Mesoamerican settlement in Nicaragua in the centuries leading up to contact with Europeans.15
Contact with the Spanish in the 16th century meant catastrophic crashes in population size due to diseases introduced by Europeans. There have been several attempts to estimate the severity of this crash and some researchers have suggested up to 90% of the population was lost. Spanish colonists arrived in the region over the next two centuries,16 with intermixing occurring. The Spanish crown administered Central America as a single political entity, but as Spanish power declined in the 18th and 19th centuries, political independence meant the formation of many post-colonial states. The present states often have borders that cross ancient native linguistic and cultural boundaries.
Some native groups, survived the contact with Europeans and retained distinct identities related to two major language families, the Chibchan and the Chocoan.17-21Some groups who lost their lan-guage have historical connections to native ancestry. Genetic studies have found evidence of re-stricted DNA diversity, which may be attributable to small founding populations.18,22 Other genetic studies indicated that small social groups persisted through colonial times to the present day.22,2
In the future, we may be able to distinguish between particular native groups and provide more lo-calized population history, including tests for ancestry from Clovis people and shared traits with them. We may also be able to determine both the Spanish and Mesoamerican contributions as these are much more recent influences.
1. Herlihy PH. 1997. Central American Indian peoples and lands today. In Coates AG. ed. Central America: A Natural and Cultural History. Yale University Press: New Haven, pp. 215-240.
2. Cooke R. 2005. Prehistory of native Americans on the Central American land bridge: Colonization, dispersal, and divergence. J Archaeol Res 13: 129-187.
3. Cooke RG, Ranere AJ. 1992. The origin of wealth and hierarchy in the central region of Panama (12,000-2,000BP), with observations on its relevance to the history and phylogeny of Chibchan-speaking polities in Panama and elsewhere. In Lange FW. ed. Wealth and Hierarchy in the Interme-diate Area. Dumbarton Oaks: Washington, DC. pp. 243-316.
4. Pearson GA. 1998. Reduction strategy for secondary source lithic raw materials at Guardiria (Tur-rialba, FG-T-9, Costa Rica). Curr Res Pleistocene 15:84-86.
5. Pearson GA. 2003. First report of a new Paleoindian quarry site on the Isthmus of Panama. Lat Am Antiq 14: 311-322.
6. Ranere AJ. 2000. Paleoindian expansion into tropical America: The view from central Panama. In Schneider JS, Yohe RM II, Gardner JK. eds. Archaeological Passages: A Volume in Honor of ClaudeNelson Warren. Publications in Archaeology No. 1, Western Center for Archaeology and Paleontology: Hemet. pp. 114-119.
7. Piperno DR. 1994. Phytolith records from the Proyecto PrehistoricoArenal. In Sheets PD, McKee BR. eds. Archaeology, Volcanism, and Remote Sensing in the Arenal Region, Costa Rica. University of Texas Press: Austin, pp. 286-292.
8. Olsen KM, Schaal B.A. 1999. Evidence on the origin of cassava. Phytogeography of ManihotEscu-lenta Proc Nat AcadSci USA 96: 5586-5591.
9. Olsen KM, Schaal BA. 2001. Microsatellite variation in cassava (Manihotesculenta, Euphorbiaceae) and its wild relatives. Am J Bot 88:131-142.
10. Piperno DR. 1998. Paleoethnobotany in the Neotropics from microfossils: New insights into ancient plant use and agricultural origins in the tropical forest. J World Prehist 12: 393-449.
11. Iltis HH. 2000. Homeotic sexual translocations and the origin of maize (Zea mays, Poaceae): A new look at an old problem. Econ Bot 54: 7-42.
12. Graham MM. 1993. Displacing the center: Constructing prehistory in Central America. In Graham MM. ed. Reconstructing Prehistory of Central America. University of Colorado: Boulder, pp. 1-38.
13. Lange FW. 1993. The conceptual structure in lower Central American studies: A Central American view. In Graham MM. ed. Reconstructing Prehistory of Central America, University of Colorado: Boulder. pp. 277-324.
14. Parsons LA. 1993. The Izapa style and the Tib́as jade. In Lange FW. ed. Precolumbian Jade: New Geological and Cultural Interpretations. University of Utah Press: Salt Lake City. pp. 251-259.
15. Fowler WJ Jr. 1991. The formation of complex society among the Nahua groups of southeastern Mesoamerica: A comparison of two approaches. In Fowler WJ Jr. ed. The Formation of Complex Society in Southern Mesoamerica. CRC: Boca Raton. pp. 130-248.
16. MacLeod M.J. 2010. Spanish Central America: A socioeconomic history, 1520-1720. University of Texas Press: Austin.
17. Barrantes R, Smouse PE, Mohrenweiser ME, Gershowitz H, Azofeifa J, Arias TD, Neel JV. 1990. Microevolution in lower Central America: Genetic characterization of the Chibcha-speaking groups of Costa Rica and Panama, and a taxonomy based on genetics, linguistics and geography. Am J Hum Genet 46: 63-84.
18. Batista OI, Kolman CJ, Bermingham E. 1995. Mitochondrial DNA diversity in the Kuna Amerinds of Panama. Hum Mol Genet 4: 921-929.
19. Kolman CJ, Bermingham E, Cooke RG, Ward RH, Arias TD, Guionneau-Sinclair F. 1995. Reduced mtDNA diversity in the Ng̈ob́e Amerinds of Panama. Genetics 140: 275-283.
20. Thompson EA, Neel JV, Smouse PE, Barrantes R. 1992. Microevolution of the Chibcha-speaking peoples of lower Central America: Rare genes in an Amerindian complex. Am J Hum Genet 51: 609-626.
21. Torroni A, Neel JV, Barrantes R, Schurr TG, Wallace DC. 1994. Mitochondrial DNA “clock” for the Amerinds and its implications for timing their entry into North America. Proc Nat AcadSci USA 91: 1158-1162.
22. Kolman CJ, Bermingham E. 1997. Mitochrondrial and nuclear DNA diversity in Choćo and Chibcha Amerinds of Panama. Genetics 147: 1289-1302.
* 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 Korea, Chinese (Han), Mynamar, Japan, and Vietnam and declines towards West China and India
Origin: Peaks in Taiwan and Malay and declines in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and South China
Origin: Peaks in Mexico and Central America with residues in Peru
Origin: Peaks in East Asia, Central-south China (Lahu, Naxi, Yi) and declines towards India
Origin: Peaks in south Siberia (Russians: Tuvinian) and declines in North Mongolia
Origin: Peaks in East Asia (East) and Chinese (She, Dai) with residues in Central south China (Han, Miao, Tujia)
Origin: Peaks in Krasnoyarsk Krai and declines towards east Russia
Origin: Peaks in Central-North America and declines towards Greenland and Eskimos
Origin: Endemic to south eastern india with residues in Pakistan
Origin: Peaks in Papua New Guinea and declines in Australia
Origin: Peaks in Bougainville and declines in Australia
Origin: Peaks in south France and declines in north France, England, Orkney islands, and Scandinavia
Origin: Endemic to Indian (Pulayar) with residues in India (Paniya, Savara, Bengali, Juang, Savara, Ho, Bonda)
Origin: Peaks in North India (Dharkars, Kanjars) and declines in Pakistan
Origin: Peaks in North Mongolia and declines in Siberia
Origin: Peaks in Peru, Mexico, and North America and declines in Eastern Russia
Origin: Peaks in Algeria and declines in Morocco and Tunisia
Origin: This gene pool is localized to Israel with residues in Syria
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.
2. Mintmire JW, Dunlap BI. White CT. 1992. Phys Rev Lett 68: 631–634.
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