Some of the Indo-Europeans found?

By Razib Khan | December 20, 2010 2:13 am

hunza
School girls in Hunza, Pakistan

A few days ago I observed that pseudonymous blogger Dienekes Pontikos seemed intent on throwing as much data and interpretation into the public domain via his Dodecad Ancestry Project as possible. What are the long term implications of this? I know that Dienekes has been cited in the academic literature, but it seems more plausible that this sort of project will simply distort the nature of academic investigation. Distort has negative connotations, but it need not be deleterious at all. Academic institutions have legal constraints on what data they can use and how they can use it (see why Genomes Unzipped started). Not so with Dienekes’ project. He began soliciting for data ~2 months ago, and Dodecad has already yielded a rich set of results (granted, it would not be possible without academically funded public domain software, such as ADMIXTURE). Even if researchers don’t cite his results (and no doubt some will), he’s reshaping the broader framework. In other words, he’s implicitly updating everyone’s priors. Sometimes it isn’t even a matter of new information, as much as putting a spotlight on information which was already there. Below is a slice of a bar plot from Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation. It uses STRUCTURE with K = 7. To the right of the STRUCTURE slice are two plots of individual data on French and French Basque from the same HGDP data set using ADMIXTURE at K = 10 from Dodecad.

fbasq


Repeated runs and higher K’s make it clear that the French Basque lack a “West Asian” aspect which other French, and Iberians as well, have. Some of this is clear in the paper I referenced above as well…the key is you have to look at the supplements at K = 6. Because the Basque are the only native non-Indo-European speakers in Western Europe, their origin and relationship to nearby populations has always been of interest (they also have the highest Rh- frequency of world populations). Granted, the French Basque are very similar genetically to the French as a whole. But, it is obviously highly informative that they lack an ancestral component in totality which seems to exist at low but consistent levels across Western European populations. The only other European population at K = 15 who lack the West Asian component in totality are Finns (the Lithuanians come very close).

This is all preamble to a discussion of a post Dienekes put up today, A solution to the problem of Indo-Aryan origins. Remember that Dienekes has been “playing” with ADMIXTURE for only a few months. To claim to have found a ‘solution’ to a problem as intellectually and politically intractable and explosive as this is rather bold. The crux of the matter is that at a certain confluences of K’s and population sets Dienekes has discovered a distinctive signature of ancestry which seems to be modal on the north slope of the Caucasus, and spans India and Europe. He terms this “Dagestani,” due to the fact that among a population sample from this province in Russia this ancestral component is overwhelmingly dominant. The patterns of Dagestani admixture in Europe and India are curious and suggestive.

1 – In Europe the frequencies are low, but irregularly distributed (excepting around the North Caucasus). Scandinavians and British have appreciable fractions, Finns and Southern Europeans do not. Here’s Dienekes:

Interpreting this pattern is not easy, but it does seem that this component seems to have a V-like distribution, achieving its maximum in Caucasus and its environs, then undergoing a diminution, and achieving a secondary (lower) frequency mode in NW Europe.

The surprising appearance of the homonymous Dagestan component in India suggests a widespread presence of a common ancestry element. The West Asian element, by comparison seems to have a more normal /-like distribution around its center in Anatolia-Caucasus-Iran region. It does reach the Atlantic coast, but is lacking in Scandinavia and Finland, and also in India itself.

2 – South Indian Brahmins have appreciable fractions, but non-Brahmins in the same region do not. In contrast, those who come from Indo-Aryan speaking backgrounds do seem to have Dagestani ancestral components, irrespective of other aspects of ancestry. For example Pakistanis don’t have that much more Dagestani than South Indian Brahmins or Gujaratis. Also compare the relatively narrow window of Dagestani ancestry variance among Dodecad South Asians (I’m DOD075). DOD088 is from what I recall a Reddy from Andhara Pradesh, a non-Brahmin but non-low caste. It is interesting that they have a high proportion of “Pakistan,” but no Dagestani. I have ~10% Dagestani, but no Pakistani.

Below is K = 10 for a selection of populations. Dienekes has now included in two non-Indo-European speaking Pakistani populations: the Brahui (Dravidian) and Burusho (linguistic isolate in the mountains of Pakistan):
dages

Some general patterns are evident. The light blue is indicative of generic “Indian” ancestry. It is not found in appreciable proportions outside of subcontinental populations (or those of recent subcontinental origin). The same with the red, and light orange. For your reference the dark orange is a “Northern European” component, modal in Lithuania. The light and dark Green are both East Asian components. The dark blue is a “West Asian” component modal in Georgia, and prominent across Europe with declining as a function of distance from the eastern shore of the Black Sea (this is surely the West Asian which distinguishes the French from the French Basque). I believe that the light purple dominant in the Brahui and the light red dominant in the Burusho probably form as a compound the aforementioned Pakistani component. The dark purple is the Dagestani.

587px-Dravidische_SprachenFirst, a word on the Brahui. These are a group of tribes who reside in northern Balochistan in Pakistan. A small number are even to be found in Afghanistan. Historically they have had close relations with the Baloch, an Iranian speaking cluster of tribes who totally envelop the Brahui. The Brahui do speak a Dravidian language, of a family dominant in South India and found in isolated regions of Central and Eastern India. There are two broad models for the existence of a Dravidian language in Pakistan. The first is that the Brahui are remnants of more widely spoken Dravidian languages which date back to the Indus Valley civilization. The second is that the Brahui arrived during the medieval period from another region of South Asia where Dravidian languages were more common. Assuming either model, it has long been presumed that their involution by the Baloch has had a strong impact on the Brahui genetically; the two groups are very close. This is evident in Dienekes’ results as well. But observe that the Baloch are the group which seems more cosmopolitan in ancestry than the Brahui. If the Brahui were Dravidians from deep in India it seems that they would have a greater residual component of India-specific ancestry (light blue and orange). This is not so. In fact the Baloch have more of the Indian ancestral component than the Brahui. The Brahui component is found across Pakistan, and into India, albeit at lower proportions. Naturally, the Baloch have the second highest fraction. I believe these results should shift us toward the position that the Brahui are indigenous in relation to the Baloch, and that the Baloch ethnic identity emerged through the shift of a Brahui substrate, as evidenced by the greater cosmpolitanism of the Baloch. Additionally, Dienekes observes that the Brahui have a lower proportion of the Dagestani component than most other Pakistani groups, and several Indo-Aryan groups in India proper.

The Burusho are event more interesting than the Brahui. Unlike the Brahui the Burusho are very isolated in the mountainous fastness of Baltistan in northern Pakistan. Additionally, their language, Burushashki, is a linguistic isolate. Others of the class are Basque and Sumerian. In general it is assumed that linguistic isolates were once part of broader families of languages which have gone extinct. Burushashki probably persists in large part because of the geography which its speakers inhabit. Mountainous areas often preserve ethnic and linguistic diversity because the terrain allows for the persistence of local variety. I believe it is plausible that the Burusho have been far more isolated than the Brahui. This seems to show up in the ADMIXTURE plot, the Burusho have a greater proportion of their modal ancestral component than the Brahui. Additionally, the Burusho have even an smaller component of Dagestani than the Brahui.

Below is a chart Dienekes constructed ordered by proportion of Dagestani for his South Asian populations. Next to it I’ve placed a chart from a PCA which has some of the same population samples. Compare & contrast:

pcadag

The PCA is looking at between population variation in totality. So naturally the Dagestani component isn’t going to be predictive of that. Rather, it speaks to the possibility which Dienekes is mooting: that the Dagestani component spread in the India subcontinent with the Indo-Aryans specifically, overlying the local resident substrate. In South India this meant that Brahmins brought this, mixing with the indigenous Dravidian population. In Pakistan the Indo-Aryan, and Iranians, were overlain on a substrate which were the ancestors of the Burusho and Brahui. The dominant signal of genetic relationship has to do with the substrate, not the Indo-Aryans. So that’s what’s going to show up on the PCA. In other PCA plots the model where South Indian Brahmins are a linear combination of a Pakistani-like population and a Dravidian population becomes clearer. But when you look at ancestry using something like ADMIXTURE you have the potential to tease apart different components, and so uncover relationships which may have been obscured when looking at aggregate variation.

dieDienekes’ model seems to post three steps in rapid succession ~4,000 years ago. A background variable which must be mentioned is that one must account for the Mitanni, a dominant Syrian power circa 1500 BC where a non-Indo-European language was the lingua franca, and yet a definite Indo-Aryan element existed within the elite. Indo-Aryan specifically because the Indo-European element within the Mitanni was not Iranian, but specifically Indo-Aryan. An easy explanation for this is that the Indo-Aryan component of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages crystallized outside South Asia, and independently reached Syria and India. In Syria it went extinct, while in India it obviously did not. By Dienekes’ model the Mitanni would be rather closer to the urheimat of the Indo-Aryans.

An aspect of his model which I do not understand is why it has to be Indo-Aryan, instead of Indo-Iranian. The South Asian population which the Dagestani component is modal, the Pathans, are Iranian, not Indo-Aryan. Additionally, this model seems to not speak in detail to the existence of the Dagestani element among Europeans. Here is a sorting of European populations (with Iranians included) by the Dagestani component:


Population Dagestan
Urkarah 93
Lezgins 47.9
Stalskoe 38.7
Adygei 16.4
Orcadian (Orkney) 12.6
Georgians 12.4
White_Utahns 11.2
Iranian 10.9
Scandinavian_D 10.2
Armenian_D 9.9
German_D 9.1
Turks 8.8
Armenians 8.4
French 7.9
Hungarians 7.5
Russian_D 6.3
Spanish_D 4.6
North_Italian 4.5
Spaniards 4.4
Romanian 4.1
Finnish_D 4.1
Russian 4
Greek_D 3.8
Portuguese_D 3.6
Tuscan 3.5
Tuscans 3.4
Lithuanians 2.9
S_Italian_Sicilian_D 2.8
Belorussian 2.5
Cypriots 2
Sardinian 1.5
French_Basque 0.7

There is here a strange pattern of rapid drop off from the Caucasus, and a bounce back very far away, on the margins of Germanic Northwestern Europe. This to me indicates some sort of leapfrog dynamic. A well known illustration of this would be the Ugric languages. The existence of Hungarian on what was Roman Pannonia is a function of the mobility and power of Magyar horseman, and their cultural domination over the Romance and Slavic speaking peasantry (their genetic impact seems to have been slight). No one believes that Germanic languages are closely related to Indo-Aryan (rather, if there is structure in Indo-European beyond Indo-Iranian, Celtic, etc., it would place the Indo-Iranian languages with Slavic). So what’s going on? I think perhaps the Dagestani component is part a reflection of the common Indo-European origin in that region. For whatever reason that signal is diminished in much of the rest of Europe. Perhaps Southern Europe was much more densely populated when the Indo-Europeans arrived. Additionally, it seems highly likely that in places like Sardinia, much of Spain, and Cyprus, Indo-European speech came through cultural diffusion (elite emulation) and not population movement. Or perhaps we’re seeing the vague shadows of population admixtures on the Pontic steppe, where distinct Germanic and Indo-Iranian confederations admixed with a common North Caucasian substrate.

Going back to India, let’s revisit the model of a two-way admixture between “Ancestral North Indians,” who were genetically similar to Europeans and West Asians, and “Ancestral South Indians,” who were closer to, but not very close to, East Eurasians. The ANI & ASI. The ASI were probably one of the ancient populations along the fringe of southern Eurasia, all of whom have been submerged by demographic movements from other parts of Eurasia over the past 10,000 years, excepting a few groups such as the Andaman Islanders and some Southeast Asian tribes. The model was admittedly a simplification. But taking that model as a given, and accepting that the Dagestani element is in indeed Indo-Aryan, we can infer that the ANI were not Indo-European. It is notable that the South Indian Brahmins have elevated fractions of both the Brahui and Burusho modal components. This is probably indicative of admixture of the Indo-Aryan element in the Indus Valley, prior to their expansion to other parts of India. I assume one of the languages spoken was Dravidian, though if ancient Mesopotamia was linguistically polyglot at the dawn of history I would not be surprised if the much more geographically Indus Valley civilization was as well.

arai
Aishwarya Rai

The irony is that today when someone refers to a “Dravidian” physical type, they’re not talking about someone who looks like a Pakistani. They’re talking about someone who looks South Indian, where most Dravidian languages are spoken. But combining the inference from Dienekes’ model and the previous two-way admixture model, you reach the conclusion that lighter skin and more West Asian features among South Asians may be more due to Dravidian-speaking ancestors in the Indus Valley, not Indo-Aryans! It goes to show the wisdom of differentiating linguistic classes from biological ones when discussing historical population genetics. Unfortunately wisdom most of us interested in these topics do not show, alas.

As I like to say, interesting times….

Note: If you leave a comment, please don’t be smarter-than-thou in your tone. I have stopped publishing those sorts of comments because the reality is that most of them have not been that smart or informed. At least by my estimation. If you actually are smarter than the average-bear, and impress me with your erudition and analysis clarity, I’ll probably let your comment through no matter your attitude. But I wouldn’t bet on it if I were you, so show some class and humility. Most of us are muddling through.

Image Credit: Georges Biard, iStockPhoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Anthroplogy, Genetics, Genomics, History
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  • http://rfmcdpei.livejournal.com Randy McDonald

    There have been some marginal theories among linguistics suggesting that the Germanic languages evidence influence from Semitic ones

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_(Semitic)_languages

    whether through a Semitic substrate in northern Europe or some sort of extended Germanic influence from Semitic languages in the urheimat.

  • onur

    One month ago I asked Dienekes Pontikos (the person – assuming he is really one person – behind the Dodecad Ancestry Project, whatever is his real name) his profession in my last posts in his blog called “Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog”, and he not only has left them unanswered but also has never published them and, worse still, permanently banned me from his blog. Apparently, for him his profession is a taboo subject that cannot even be asked about. It is clear that he is an amateur in genetics, anthropology and biology in general, as he describes himself as a dilettante in those fields.

  • VG

    A lot of south Indian communities are covered but it would be interesting to see where north Indian upper castes fit into this, such as UP Brahmins, Punjabi Khattris, Rajputs, etc. I am also curious about the Jats, Ahirs and Gujjars. The latter are commonly believed to have arrived in India in the early medieval period, in the wake of the white hun invasions.

  • bioIgnoramus

    Oh dear: a second node of Aryans in Germanic NW Europe. Still, better irony than Blood and Steel, eh?

  • VG

    Here’s a comment I left on Dienekes’ blog and I thought I’d put it up here as well, since the posts are related:

    ‘A lot of early historical and archaeological research into the origins of Indo-Aryans focused exclusively on the horse and chariot, evidence of which has been found in the Andronovo culture north of the Caspian and BMAC. Does a transcaucasus origin of the Indo-Aryans fit with this? ‘

  • http://www.linearpopulationmodel.blogspot.com Marnie

    I think we all yearn for a simple theory to explain our origins.

    The Indo-Aryan expansion is only one of multiple waves of expansions into South Asia that have occured over thousands of years. I’d encourage anyone interested in this topic to read Sengupta, 2006. http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications/AJHG_2006_v78_p202-221.pdf

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    onur, your comment sounds like sour grapes. if you have a serious problem with dienekes, rather than gripe about it on blogs, just start your own blog. if you googled you could easily find suppositions as to his profession, people used to talk about it in the early 2000s.

  • http://www.linearpopulationmodel.blogspot.com Marnie

    The absence of the “West Asian” component in Basques is likely a result of their early pastoralist movement from the Caucasus into Western Europe.

    Orcadians have a similar genetic signature, with only a very small West Asian Component.

    You can look at the R-269 map from Myres et al. to get a picture of the distribution of early R1b and its contribution to the Basques. That doesn’t preclude other northern European contributions to Basques and Orcadians.

    I think it is over reaching to suggests that Basques have a Daghestan origin. They likely have, in part, an early Holocene origin in the Caucasus, but without extensive y-DNA, mtDNA and fine scale DNA analysis, it is conjectural to suggest that Basques originate in Daghestan.

    ADMIXTURE does not have the resolution capability to pinpoint such an origin.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan


    I think it is over reaching to suggests that Basques have a Daghestan origin. They likely have, in part, an early Holocene origin in the Caucasus, but without extensive y-DNA, mtDNA and fine scale DNA analysis, it is conjectural to suggest that Basques originate in Daghestan.

    who are you talking to? who said anything like this?

  • http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    “[A]ccepting that the Dagestani element is in indeed Indo-Aryan, we can infer that the ANI were not Indo-European. It is notable that the South Indian Brahmins have elevated fractions of both the Brahui and Burusho modal components. This is probably indicative of admixture of the Indo-Aryan element in the Indus Valley, prior to their expansion to other parts of India. I assume one of the languages spoken was Dravidian, though if ancient Mesopotamia was linguistically polyglot at the dawn of history I would not be surprised if the much more geographically Indus Valley civilization was as well.

    The irony is that today when someone refers to a “Dravidian” physical type, they’re not talking about someone who looks like a Pakistani. They’re talking about someone who looks South Indian, where most Dravidian languages are spoken. But combining the inference from Dienekes’ model and the previous two-way admixture model, you reach the conclusion that lighter skin and more West Asian features among South Asians may be more due to Dravidian-speaking ancestors in the Indus Valley, not Indo-Aryans! ”

    On the genetics, I think that this general outline, of Indo-European admixture with a large substrate population in Pakistan with greater affinity to West Asian that ASI, which in turn expands, is spot on.

    The assumption that the ancesteral language of the Indus River Valley was Dravidian is IMHO on less solid ground. Harvard Indologist Michael Witzel in his essay ca. 2004, “Substrate Languages in Old Indo-Aryan,” clear takes issue with this thesis, stating: “As we can no longer reckon with Dravidian influence on the early RV, this means that the language of the pre-Rigvedic Indus civilization, at least in the Panjab, was of (Para-) Austro-Asiatic nature.” Witzel’s critics since then have disageed more with his efforts to describe the substrate as Para-Austro-Asiatic than with his conclusion that there is not a Dravidian substrate in early Rigvedic Sanskrit as would be expected if that was the language of the Indus River Valley.

    The assumption that there were two wave of expansion from the Indus River Valley, one pre-Indo-Aryan and a second post-Indo-Aryan, also lacks much archaeological support. (There would have to be two waves, because expansion by Indo-Aryans once there was a language shift would spread Indo-Aryan languages, rather than Dravidian ones). The center of expansion of Dravidian was from East Central India and Central India, not Northwest India, and there are not strong ANI traces in non-Brahmin populations there, yet one of the leading theories of caste formation in South Asia is that the Brahmin layer is an imposition of an Indo-Aryan ruling class on a pre-existing caste structure for the layers below it.

    The probability that the Indus River Valley was linguistically polyglot also seems off. Trade within the civilization seems to have been robust and via quality boats. Mesopotamians had well documented trade in all directions, and the linguistic diversity prior to the linguistic conversion of the region to Semitic Akkadian, appears to have been confined to trade colonies that were distinct neighborhoods in border cities. The Indus River Valley civilization is remarkable for its apparent cultural unity, lack of defensive architecture (except at a couple of small border trading posts on the Southwest India coast), and high degree of central planning in its cities relevative even to Mesopotamians. It had trade, but more of it was oriented to the North and West, than toward India proper, and its own civilization was quite concentrated within specific and rather compact boundaries for a long period of time (thousands of years). There also seems to be indications that the Indus River Valley civilization was pretty much settled in a single early Neolithic episode ca. 6000 BCE, and didn’t change very much demographically until it collapsed (close in time to the collapse of the river system that supported it). This would also support some genetic lingustic affinitity of the Indus River Valley language to Sumerian or other non-Indo-European languages of the region like Kassite, Elamite, Hurrian or Hattic, of which the closest living relative seems to be the Northwest Caucusian languages spoken in Dagestan. Of course, we can’t do much more than hypothesize, because the Indus Valley Script has not been deciphered and may not be phonetic in any case.

    I’ve mentioned the possibility that Dravidian may be lingustically African in its origins (the Afro-Dravidian hypothesis most famously championed by Sergent, a French anthropologist in “La Genesis Indie”). But, even if it is not, a source as an indigeneous ASI dialect from near the source of the South Indian Neolithic agricultural expansion seems at least as likely as an Indus River Valley civilization source for the language. There are not many shared cultural practices between the South Indian Neolithic and Harappan civilization.

    I’d also mention that the balance of opinion on Brahui linguistic origins has recently tended to favor on linguistic and other grounds, an origin in the medieval period rather than an indigeneous origin (probably, although not definitively in association with the migration of a whole population). The migration would have been not far in time from the movement of the ancesteral Romani population from South Asia to Europe. There is widespread agreement that the Dravidian linguistic region contracted with Indo-Aryan linguistic expansion, but the balance of scholarship doesn’t support the theory that the Dravidian linguistic region ever extended as far as the Brahui.

  • http://www.linearpopulationmodel.blogspot.com Marnie

    “Who am I talking to”

    You and Dienekes.

    You’re over reaching. It’s fine to say that you’ve run across a component that seems to be correlated with certain populations. But in terms of expansion time and origin, you haven’t proven your case.

  • onur

    Razib, I have no problem with Dienekes. I just don’t understand why he bans someone for asking him his profession. His profession is directly relevant to his blog writings, as he isn’t blogging about his personal life but serious scientific issues like genetics and anthropology.

  • TheDude

    Onur, I believe Dienekes is a programmer.

    I have to agree with Razib’s apprehension regarding the ultimate consequences of Dodecad. Too much information seems to be being plundered forth too quickly, often accompanied by sweeping generalizations. Some will find in certain of these results what they prefer and wave around the frappe plot to “prove” it. That Dienekes is reluctant to publish — ostensibly owing to having no need for peer review (per the Nature article) — is somewhat surprising, given his past advertising of the citations of his mutation rate musings.

    Would his Dodecad work withstand academic peer review?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    You’re over reaching. It’s fine to say that you’ve run across a component that seems to be correlated with certain populations. But in terms of expansion time and origin, you haven’t proven your case.

    1) no shit we haven’t “proved” a case. that’s just a dumb thing to say. i stated specifically at the end that we’re muddling through. and dienekes admits that parts of this thesis probably won’t hold up. jesus.

    2) what did basques being daghestani have anything to do with what i said above? i prefer the comments to actually address something said, so please indicate where that came from.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Too much information seems to be being plundered forth too quickly, often accompanied by sweeping generalizations. Some will find in certain of these results what they prefer and wave around the frappe plot to “prove” it.

    i’m not that apprehensive. you can rerun the admixture yourself. a lot of this is what didn’t make it into supplements.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    , not Northwest India, and there are not strong ANI traces in non-Brahmin populations there

    this is false. ANI is ~40% in south indian tribals. higher in non-tribals. please read this paper, and its supplements (it’s free now):

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842210/

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    yes, dienekes is assumed to a programmer. i don’t know if this is true. no more talk about who he is. let’s discuss the post. i’m starting to get irritated by off-topic.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    ohwilleke, your comments are really long. a major critique i’d have is that you express rightful skepticism about proposition X, but then assert the likely probability of equally conjectural proposition Y, Z, etc. also, if you keep mentioning the afro-dravidian thesis it’ll only reduce the impact of the rest of the comments, as i assume most readers reject that prima facie for a host of reasons. there’s just no robust support for it, period.

  • Andrew Lancaster

    Maybe slightly OT, but on theme.

    I would like to see more discussion around the blogosphere about what it means when we have a “Dagestani cluster” or a “Sardinian cluster”. I’ll tell you one reason this question seems important to me is that as a genetic genealogist and a Wikipedian I see a lot of people read academic papers and assume, understandably I suppose, that these clusters, which both represent something about ancestry and are modal in a certain place THEREFORE are literally signs of Sardinians, for example, moving into the Basque country, for example. Can you help out on this?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    which both represent something about ancestry and are modal in a certain place THEREFORE are literally signs of Sardinians, for example, moving into the Basque country, for example. Can you help out on this?

    well, i try and reiterate that one shouldn’t take the clusters literally. after all, it isn’t as if past population history is changing as you move up K’s. sardinians are nearly 100% “sardinian” at K = 10, but not so at K = 15. and, as dienekes’ posts show, if you shift the populations (the genetic variation) you input into the program you shake out with different proportions. in previous posts dienekes showed that basques were a two-way admixture between northern and southwest/sardinian europeans. but in a recent post he constrained the sample space in a manner which produced a modal cluster very dominant in the basque population.

    obviously there are generally no “pure” races, and if you go far back enough there are admixture events. so, the “indian” cluster which keeps showing up is i suspect the same as the ANI+ASI combined cluster which was explored in reich et. al. what the clusters allow us to do is explore relationships between modern populations in a clear and precise way. but, i do think that one can infer admixture events in the past, but one must do so cautiously.

    think of the african americans + ceu. at K = 2 you see that african americans are admixed between two populations, and we know that that’s true. but what about at K = 10? we could create all sorts of ridiculous stories if we relied solely on the genetic patterns.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    re: sardinians btw. i assume that they’re a stable admixture between the first european farmers and west mediterranean indigenes.

  • http://www.linearpopulationmodel.blogspot.com Marnie

    Coming as they do from statistical likelihood estimations, ADMIXTURE components represent distributions of populations that have similarities in their SNP sets. And of course, most of these ADMIXTURE population components are widely distributed. The “Sardinian” component that you mention is spread all the way from the British Isles to India. These components also do not necessarily originate from the current location of their distribution peak. The “Southwest Asian” component, which peaks in Saudi Arabia, seems to originate in the Taurus-Zagros Arc, based on its correlation with the distribution of the J1 haplogroup.

    The ADMIXTURE components represent a distribution of peoples with statistical likeness in their SNPs, no more.

    Within current methods, I would work from the correlation of the distribution of ADMIXTURE components with the distributions of y or mt DNA to infer expansion times and locations.

  • Tone

    I love this blog and I’ve been an avid reader for almost year. First comment.

    Judging from the Basque/French analysis, I can see how the “West Asian” component seems to indicate an Indo-European origin. Current theory holds that the Indo-Europeans from the Black Sea area swept through Europe in several waves over thousands of years starting at roughly 4000 bc, if I understand correctly. The population of Europe had already adopted farming via the Middle East at this point.

    So if this West Asian component indicates Indo-European admixture, where is the earlier, Middle-eastern farmer component in the French and Basque? Judging from the way the agricultural Yayoi replaced the Jamon hunter gatherers in Japan, shouldn’t the European genome have a large Middle-Eastern component? Is this West Asian component actually from the first farmers? And if so, perhaps the Indo-Europeans weren’t horsemen but earlier farmers?

    Of course, I’m just a layman so my understanding is not entirely complete. I just have questions.

  • onur

    A last note on Dienekes: My question to Dienekes regarding his profession has absolutely nothing to do with his Dodecad Project or genetic experiments. I asked him his profession one month ago because I learned (from himself) that he was an amateur in genetics, anthropology and biology in general one month ago. If I had learned this info two years ago, I would ask my question two years ago. In fact, I was the very first person who publicly congratulated him for his Dodecad Project when he initiated it two months ago:

    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/10/dodecad-ancestry-project.html

    Also, of all of his commenters I was probably the one who was the most in agreement with Dienekes’ views (including political views) in his blogs in the English language. I had no problem with Dienekes before my ban and I still have no problem with him. But learning that he is an amateur in the above mentioned fields one month ago (I had already read speculations about that on the Internet many months before but hadn’t taken them seriously until learning from Dienekes himself one month ago that he was an amateur) has significantly shaken my confidence in him in matters relating to genetics, anthropology and biology in general (he probably inhibits talks about his profession in his blogs to counteract losing trustworthiness), and my current opinion of the level of his trustworthiness in those fields certainly wouldn’t be any different if he didn’t ban me.

  • onur

    In fact, I was the very first person who publicly congratulated him for his Dodecad Project when he initiated it two months ago:

    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/10/dodecad-ancestry-project.html

    BTW, I already knew that Polako (the person behind the BGA Project) was an amateur in the above mentioned fields when I congratulated Dienekes, so I have no problem when such genetic projects come from amateurs. But interpretation of the data is a different issue and requires professional knowledge in genetics and biology in general in order to be really trustworthy.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    dude, let it go :-) we get the picture. though honestly it seemed pretty clear to me that dienekes wasn’t a professional. but then again, i’ve been following his blog since spring of 2003, and his background in computer science seems to have been more well known then.

  • onur

    though honestly it seemed pretty clear to me that dienekes wasn’t a professional.

    Very normal, as you are a professional in those fields, I am not.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    no onur, i’m not. i have academic background in the area, but i’m not a professional by any means.

  • onur

    Well, at least you have academic background in the area, which is lacking in me, Dienekes and Polako (Polako has a journalist background).

  • onur

    I am a computer/software engineer BTW.

  • http://dienekes.blogspot.com Dienekes

    onur, you were banned because you flooded the blog with repetitive posts/corrections since the very beginning. In many a post, a reader would be faced with a flood of onur-posts in the comments section. Indeed, I was forced to make my comments moderated in part because of you.

    Nonetheless, despite giving you “final warnings” a couple of times and even giving you instructions on how to prepare and double-check your posts before submitting a flurry of them every time a light-bulb went on in your head, you continued pretty much the same behavior. I nonetheless let you post, because there was some good stuff in what you wrote, and I figured you might have some technical problems/language problems behind your behavior.

    The final straw was when you flaunted my explicit request to send me off-topic material via e-mail several times.

    Your inference that I am a professional in anthropology/genetics has no basis on anything I wrote, as I have never claimed to be a professional. So, if you wanted to imagine things, that’s your business, not mine.

    Thanks for the compliment though, if you thought I was a professional I must’ve been doing something right. And, sorry you think of my work less now that you’ve learned I’m an amateur; personally I don’t care one bit whether someone is a professional or not, I care in what they say/write inasmuch as I can understand it.

    Finally, your suggestion that I was trying to “hide” the fact that I’m an amateur is ridiculous, and is contradicted by the fact that I self-described myself to a Narure reporter as a “dilettante”. Somehow I don’t believe that’s what people who are ashamed of being amateurs do.

  • http://www.club-med.so toto

    An aspect of his model which I do not understand is why it has to be Indo-Aryan, instead of Indo-Iranian

    Indeed.

    There is here a strange pattern of rapid drop off from the Caucasus, and a bounce back very far away, on the margins of Germanic Northwestern Europe. This to me indicates some sort of leapfrog dynamic.

    Well… Germania is directly adjacent to the (Indo-Iranian) Sarmatian range.

    Maybe Dienekes has found where all the Scythians have gone.

  • onur

    Dieneke, your resistance to publish my comments in which I asked you your profession led me to the conclusion that you were trying to hide something. Sorry if I misunderstood you. But I really thought – and still think – my question about your profession wasn’t off-topic in your anthropology blog, so I didn’t have any bad intention when asking you that question in a series of comments (BTW, my last series of comments had nothing to do with my bad habit of corrections, which I have greatly surmounted). Rest assured, I won’t ask you any more questions about your profession, as it is now pretty clear to me that your academic background and profession have nothing to do with genetics, anthropology and biology in general.

    Despite learning that you are an amateur, I still greatly value your efforts to inform people of the latest researches in genetics and anthropology and your own genetic project and experiments. Interpretation of the data you present in your blogs is a totally different thing, so don’t expect from me to evaluate your interpretations with the same value.

  • onur

    if you thought I was a professional I must’ve been doing something right.

    Well, as a computer/software engineer, I am not in a position to distinguish between a professional and an amateur in genetics, anthropology and biology in general.

  • onur

    Would his Dodecad work withstand academic peer review?

    Good question.

  • onur

    BTW, Polako is planning to submit his BGA project results to a peer-reviewed journal, it would be nice if Dienekes did the same thing for his Dodecad project results.

  • onur

    Apologizing Razib for going off topic I want to make a last clarification: Part of the reason why I thought Dienekes was a professional in the area was that I interpreted his usual choice of lay language and easy subjects as his intentional personal preference of lay language and easy subjects over academic language and more detailed subjects. Besides, his previous genetic and craniofacial research and writings on mutation rate further misled me to think that he was a professional. I am sorry for my misunderstanding about Dienekes’ profession and academic background for which Dienekes has no fault, all the fault is mine. BTW, I know Dienekes only for the last two-three years.

  • http://www.kinshipstudies.org German Dziebel

    I’ve had this comment sitting for a couple of days now. First, I thought I’d post it, then I thought Razib would consider it off-topic. Now, I decided again to post it. Although it’s still kinda off-topic.

    Dienekes is a pseudonym, his profession is unknown, sometimes he’s referred to as a pseudo-something (pseudo-anthropologist, pseudo-geneticist, etc.). But in the age of personal genomics do we really need to know people’s names, or people are fine going by their totems, genomes, and clusters and self-organize themselves into Facebook-kind of online communities showing some “science dynamics”? Personally, I’ve never been curious about Dienekes’s profession or his real name. It’s the question for historians, not contemporaries. (He sometimes reminds me of nature-loving German pastor Joachim Neumann who adopted the Graecized name Ne(o)ander which later entered the place-name Neanderthal where the first hominid fossil was finally found. The only difference being that Dienekes is ethnically Greek and not just a Graecophile.) I think he’s a quintessential Internet-age serial entrepreneur: he creates new dating methods, collects genomes and generates novel ideas on regional and global level. In addition to the recent Indo-Aryan theory, he developed an interesting alternative to the out-of-African replacement theory. Since academia is very uptight as to what ideas and data readings are “scientific” and what is the appropriate way to “distribute” those scientific ideas, the rise of Dienekeses is natural and intriguing. Academic “science” has become so regulated, automated, ritualized and stylized that it slowly turns into a hobby that even a “programmer” or a “banker” could do. In the early 1990s, another “amateur” spearheading a different approach to human origins was profiled in the media. http://articles.latimes.com/1993-07-27/local/me-17316_1. In human origins research, there’s a clear need for alternatives, and the Web empowers amateurs, which is good. I think there should be a balance between amateurs and professionals. Amateurs always try to tackle the unknown, professionals tend to confirm the known. What I don’t like is when amateurs pretend that they know more than professionals or recycle professional knowledge as if it were their own or when professionals pretend that there’s nothing else to know. Dienekes is definitely the right kind of amateur.

    As for peer-reviews. I understand people outside of academia think peers always know their stuff. However, science is so fragmented and complex these days that it’s hard to get the right people to review works. Recently, I informally reviewed a paper to appear in Human Biology that had been peer-reviewed before. It contained a big primary source error that pretty much invalidates the application of the Bayesian method to the data. The “peers” had no clue it was there. They just checked the application and the conformity to expectations, but not the data.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i guess off-topic is what this is. as long as the comments aren’t personal i guess i’ll let it go.

    *shrug*

  • pconroy

    Onur,

    You were banned because you would re-post a 20 line comment, to correct one word – it was obsessive and very annoying to all.

    I think Dienekes’ work is awesome and so is Davidski’s, so it doesn’t really concern me whether they have credentials or not, as their work speaks for itself. Also there are many reasons why someone like Dienekes might not want a public identity, such as he might be an academic in another fields of study, or he might be a statistician working in a public capacity for the government or some such – in either case it’s irreverent to the content.

    Getting back on topic, I notice with today’s update that Dienekes is now leaning more towards an Indo-Iranian target for the Dagestani mystery element?!

    Curiously, my wife’s maternal grandmother DOD097 (Sicilian) belongs to mtDNA H13 which is most diverse and frequent among Dagestanis, with a minor element extending Westward on the Mediterranean coast – so another possible expansion route?!

  • onur

    Onur,

    You were banned because you would re-post a 20 line comment, to correct one word – it was obsessive and very annoying to all.

    Conroy,

    Dienekes started to talk about banning me only after I asked him his profession (one of the reasons why I began to suspect that he was trying to hide his profession), and banned me very soon after (further strengthening my suspicions). He never mentioned banning me after my corrective comments; at most he said that he would delete all my previous comments (which he has never done) if I continued that way, but never mentioned banning me, let alone permanently banning me because of them.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    discussing the role of amateurs in this sort of stuff is fine. but most of my readers are not interested in why dienekes pontikos banned one individual. in any case, no one will know definitively except for dienekes.

  • http://dienekes.blogspot.com Dienekes

    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/11/23andme-99-sale.html

    Onur, you decided that the fact that I am an amateur and my professional credentials or lack thereof were relevant to the topic of the 23andMe sale. I don’t know what relevance they could have to the 23andMe sale, but that’s your business. Also, the fact that I self-identify as a dilettante in that very post kinda nullifies your argument that I tried to pass myself as a professional.

    Anyone who reads that thread will see that I told you to use the e-mail address for off-topic material. After you don’t send me e-mail and you continue posting the same off-topic comments that I have to delete, I tell you again to stop spamming and use e-mail for off-topic matter, telling you explicitly that you will be banned otherwise. Nonetheless you continue to post your off-topic questions in my post, and I have no option but to ban you.

    It’s pretty much what happened to this thread. From post #3 you hijacked it, and no one is talking about my theory or Razib’s post on it, but we are all talking about I did this, you did that.

    Here is a nice on-topic paper that came out today and shows the frequency of Y-haplogroup J2a in Eurasia

    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/12/y-chromosomes-and-mtdna-from.html

    I’m not terribly happy with using interpolated surfaces for heterogeneous societies like India, where different castes/languages occupy many spaces, but notice the interesting frequency peak in eastern Anatolia.

    They tested Indo-European tribals from Maharashtra, and they have J2a. It seems that in non-Dravidian India, J2a is not limited to upper castes as it is in South India. That’s kinda similar to what I see with my autosomal data: in South India, J2a is largely Brahmin and the “Dagestan” component is largely Brahmin, but the Gujarati sample (which is Indo-Aryan but not exclusively Brahmin) also possesses it.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i assume that the ‘houston gujarati’ sample is probably mostly technically vaishyas. a huge proportion of american gujaratis are patels or related surnames.

  • onur

    Dieneke, as I’ve said time and time again, your profession is always relevant to your blog writings on genetics and anthropology, topic of the thread isn’t important (in fact, I intentionally sent my last series of comments in which I asked you your profession in different threads of your anthropology blog to draw your attention to this fact). In short, my question about your profession wasn’t off-topic (after all, you are the blogger there, not me, and you are blogging on scientific issues). Yes, you self-identified as a dilettante in that thread, but that was an ambiguous self-identification and in an ambiguous way, so I asked you to elaborate further on that and then asked you your profession, but you somehow refrained from publishing my comments in which I asked you your profession. If you published just one of my comments in which I asked you your profession but didn’t answer my question, I would stop asking you your profession (as you don’t have to answer my question) and close the subject; but you didn’t publish any of my those comments so I continued to send them (after all, they weren’t off-topic) until being banned.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    enough.

  • Michael Kronenfeld

    How does Ryan and Pitman’s hypothesis that the sudden flooding of the Black sea due to the break though at Bosporus Strait circa 5600 BC and subsequent disbursement of the populations around the rapidly expanding lake fit into this discussion?

    Ryan, W.B.F. and Pitman, W.C., III, 1999. Noah’s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries about the Event That Changed History: New York, Simon and Schuster

  • http://daybrown.org Day Brown

    Aryan prehistory is never going to be sorted out satisfactorily. But JP Mallory, “In Search of the Indo-Europeans” provides a clue noting “Aryan warbands did not emerge until the late Bronze age”. The cover of his book is another clue, seen at http://daybrown.org/artifax/artifax.htm because he describes the archer taking a “classic Parthian shot over his shoulder” despite the fact you can see HER left tit- with what every bull dyke knows is a leather plate bra holding the nipple back out of the way. The earlier Aryans were matriarchic, and when they got horses, became Steppe Amazons.
    Which Tamerlane later used as scouts cause they could ride horses further & faster than heavier men.

    Mallory also takes Gimbutas to task debunking her notions of the original Aryan homeland was; both were unaware of Ryan & Pitman’s “Noah’s Flood”, so nobody looked for that homeland on the bottom of what is now the Black Sea. But Ballad’s “Titanic crew” reports structural remains off the coast of Sinop, on the bottom.

    No satisfactory explanation of “proto-Indo-European” can work without considering these two factors. I note PIE is an oxymoron because the original Aryan language was never used in India.

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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