TELEGRAPH Tuesday, August 6, 2002
BY DAVID DERBYSHIRE
ties between Europeans and the Middle East are much stronger
than previously thought, says a study of mans genetic
Up to half
the genes of indigenous Europeans may have come from immigrants
who brought farming to the continent 6,000-10,000 years ago
Scientists at University College London analysed rare genetic
markers on the Y chromosomes of 1,000 modern Europeans. They
show common ancestry among different populations.
Chikhi, a population geneticist, and colleagues estimated that
ancient Middle Eastern immigrant farmers contributed about 50
per cent of the analysed genes, ranging form 15-30 per cent
for north-western Europeans, to 85-100 per cent for those Albania,
Macedonia and Greece.
could resolve a long debate over the origins of indigenous Europeans
and the spreading of farming.
is thought to have begun in the Near East at the end of the
last ice age about 13,000 years ago. Farming gradually spread
westwards across Europe over the next millennia, reaching the
British Isles about 6,000 years ago.
studies of the spread of Middle Eastern genes produced contradictory
results. Some suggested a significant genetic heritage from
the Near East, others that Middle Eastern populations played
a minor role in the making of Europeans.
who reports the findings in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, said it had not been clear before whether
people colonised areas or whether the neighbouring hunter-gathers
integrated farming techniques through cultural contacts.
findings indicate that culture transmission of farming is extremely
unlikely. There was a significant movement of people.
College team used a new statistical technique to study rare
Y chromosome mutations unique event polymorphisms
which are not thought to have occurred more than once in recent
human history. Y chromosomes pass only from fathers to sons.