Y Chromosomes of 40% Chinese Are Descendants of Three Neolithic Super-grandfathers

Y Chromosomes of 40% Chinese Are Descendants of Three Neolithic Super-grandfathers
Shi Yan, Chuan-Chao Wang, Hong-Xiang Zheng, Wei Wang, Zhen-Dong Qin, Lan-Hai Wei, Yi Wang, Xue-Dong Pan, Wen-Qing Fu, Yun-Gang He, Li-Jun Xiong, Wen-Fei Jin, Shi-Lin Li, Yu An, Hui Li, Li Jin
(Submitted on 15 Oct 2013)

Demographic change of human populations is one of the central questions for delving into the past of human beings. To identify major population expansions related to male lineages, we sequenced 78 East Asian Y chromosomes at 3.9 Mbp of the non-recombining region (NRY), discovered >4,000 new SNPs, and identified many new clades. The relative divergence dates can be estimated much more precisely using molecular clock. We found that all the Paleolithic divergences were binary; however, three strong star-like Neolithic expansions at ~6 kya (thousand years ago) (assuming a constant substitution rate of 1e-9/bp/year) indicates that ~40% of modern Chinese are patrilineal descendants of only three super-grandfathers at that time. This observation suggests that the main patrilineal expansion in China occurred in the Neolithic Era and might be related to the development of agriculture.

1 thought on “Y Chromosomes of 40% Chinese Are Descendants of Three Neolithic Super-grandfathers

  1. The study looks quite interesting but I have an extremely strong caveat to their calibration point of only 53 Ka for the CF-DE split. It must be doubly older on light of the most recent archaeological evidence, which is quickly piling up (in China as in India) in favor of a H. sapiens colonization of Asia c. 100 Ka ago or even a bit earlier (after a 125 Ka ago first spread to Arabia and Palestine).

    Even if we can excuse the authors for not being up to date with the most recent archaeological developments, strong evidence for at least 80 Ka BP for the colonization of South Asia exists since 2007.

    By 53 Ka ago H. sapiens was already back in West Asia, after a long journey through more easternly parts of Asia, just a step away from colonizing Europe (oldest Aurignacian date is now 49 Ka BPcal) and displacing Neanderthals (a long process). Using haploid pylogenies, this second arrival to West Eurasia must have originated and have deep roots further East in Asia (it did not come directly from Africa), so by all means estimating the CF-DE split, which must correspond to the Out Of Africa migration, to just 53 or 60 Ka is simply unacceptable. I’d ask geneticists to calibrate according to the archaeological evidence and not on mere scholastic inertia (someone 10 or 15 years ago suggested c. 60 Ka for the OoA, based on the archaeological knowledge of the day and nobody seems able to revise this?, c’mon!)

    Therefore I understand that all age estimates should be doubled, what makes these “Neolithic” super-grandfathers actually Late Paleolithic. Assuming all the rest is correct, of course.

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