The day of the farmer

By Razib Khan | March 29, 2011 11:01 pm

About five months ago I read Peter Bellwood’s First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies. Bellwood’s thesis is simple: that the first adopters of farming entered into a period of rapid demographic expansion and by and large replaced non-farming groups. The populations which dominate the world today in this model are then the descendants of the very small set of cultures which ~10,000 years ago triggered the Neolithic Revolution. When Bellwood presented his thesis in the mid-2000s many would have dismissed it out of hand. Today I believe we have to take this model seriously.

There are two primary reasons from my perspective why I am now thinking about Bellwood’s thesis a great deal. First, the archaeogenetic inferences based on distributions of modern allele frequencies which suggested that the Neolithic Revolution in Europe was a matter of cultural diffusion seem far shakier. With such genetic models no longer taken for granted the recent historical, semi-historical, and ethnographic evidence, on farming transitions must be given much more weight. The case of the Bantu expansion in Africa seems to be semi-historical. The Bantu farmers themselves were not literate but their wave of advance was in historical time. Tellingly, the Bantu speaking populations of Southern Africa are genetically more similar to the Fang of Cameroon then they are to the Khoisan to their west! More well documented has been the attempts by Europeans to settle various lands overseas in their colonial adventures. They have been able to marginalize populations which did not habitually practice intensive agriculture relatively easily (note that the locus of Afrikaner settlement was initially around the Cape, where Bantu influence was minimal and Khoikhoi pastoralists were dominant). In contrast, in regions like Mesoamerica where obligate intensive agricultural civilization had deep roots there was no biological replacement, but hybridization.

An argument can be made that the initial farmers did not have so many advantages over their hunter-gatherer neighbors. So the power and force of the mass agricultural way of life which bore down upon the indigenes of Australia was qualitatively different because the Europeans who arrived were the outer wave of an ancient and ruthlessly efficient civilization of farmers, honed to brutal perfection through the cauldron of inter-group competition over thousands of years. I think the best counter argument against this is the evidence of rapid sweeps of cultural forms in European in prehistory, as well as rapidity of the success of the Bantu agricultural toolkit.

The new genome blogger Diogenes expresses the thesis of agricultural replacement to near maximal levels in the model which he is attempting to test with ADMIXTURE runs. Here are his propositions (formatting reedited for clarity):

1. The Neolithic Revolution was about a significant change in Humans. I happened due to selection over thousands of years in very few very special and uniquely rich and unstable environments around the world. This change influenced and was influenced mutually and gradually by technology and culture of the originally Forager people subjected to it. [agree, Razib]

2. Agricultural lifestyles allow for at least 10x higher population differences. Imagine for once this theoretical unreal situation: A land divided as a chess board into 10 squares; 5 inhabited by Neolithic people at 10ppl per square and 5 by Forager people at 1 person per square exclusively. Now imagine they mix. Total resulting population 10×5+5×1=55. Total resulting Forager contribution to gene pool: <10%. Once Neolithics dominate some regions, Foragers are a minority in their land even without wars and genocides (even though these last likely occurred). [agree, Razib]

3. Foragers don’t invent or adapt to agricultural lifestyles because they do not possess such changes and can’t develop them fast enough in most circumstances. They’re predisposed to fight or flee instead. Their much lower densities make them prone to high-density disease they didn’t evolve immunity to (but Neolithics did). [lean toward agreement, Razib]

4. Foragers thus get swamped by agriculturalists, and populations become dominated by the Neolithic Core Area population. Since mostly men migrate, in ever larger numbers, almost all Y-DNA is Neolithic; much of the mt-DNA is forager (since early women were taken from forager populations, and later women descend from these); but autossomes are overwhelmingly Neolithic too. [very slight lean toward agreement, Razib]

5. Established Neolithic populations live at the Malthusian limit. Extra food means extra surviving children eating it. [agree, Razib]

6. The only major changes in such a setting involve invasion by populations with food producing advantages. Like better seeds, tools (techs); better organization for irrigation works (culture); major genetic advantages like better digestion of food products (lactose tolerance). Advantageous alleles still diffuse, but neutral genes remain overwhelmingly local. [lean toward agreement, Razib]

7. “Invasions” and “Conquests” in such a setting are about militarized elites subjecting the peasants. Travelling is difficult and they are few compared to peasants. They live off rents collected from them, rather than join in the miserly peasant life. Since they despise peasants as serfs, they refer to themselves and their land by their minority identities. Thus we get “Roman” Tunisia; “Gothic” Ukraine; “Celtic” Anatolia, “British” Jamaica. This has no meaning as far as actual genetic constitution of the majority peasant population, but it’s all contemporary authors talk about, as well as most contemporary luxury works. [lean toward agreement, Razib]

8. If subjected populations live for long enough under the alien elite, they mix with it, appropriate their prestige tags, assimilate their prestige language with their substrate one, and much of material culture too. Thus French “Latins” with Celtic substrate, Bulgarian “Slavs”, Anatolian “Turks”, Egyptian “Arabs”, etc. Elites do make a contribution on Y-DNA, since their societies transmit prestige patriarchally. But almost no mt-DNA. And little autosomal DNA, since elite Y-DNA bearers persist but successive wives are mostly local. [lean toward agreement, Razib]

9. Slaves: slaves in settled agricultural societies do not have the impact they have in mostly unsettled Forager inhabited frontiers. Demographic success of agricultural slaves in the Americas is the exception not the rule for slave owning societies. Just like Agricultural minority success at Forager inhabited frontiers is the exception, and elite assimilation into settled populations the rule. African genes in the Americas expanded because they were able to join the early “Neolithic” gene pool there. They had high density disease immunity, agricultural knowledge, social and genetic adaptations, and the right crops versus Forager Amerindians in some regions. Slaves functioned as new rural “peasants” in untilled land from whom Barons extracted rents. [agree, Razib]

In Old World regions, where large peasant populations lived at the Malthusian limit, there was no advantage bringing slaves to till the land and replace the peasants. If a Baron could move the peasants from productive land so could he make them work as hard as slaves. Slaves were useful for house work, prestige, for city and mine labour. They had very severe social disadvantages. They generally died at far higher rates and reproduced a lot less than local peasants and so had to be continuously imported. They could not make large contributions to gene pools of very dense agricultural peoples, except if they carried food producing advantages, such as crops specially adapted to local circumstances. Slaves as a rule contribute a little mt-DNA, almost none Y-DNA and residual autossome DNA in such societies. [lean toward agreement, Razib]

10. Over time, once a functioning advanced agricultural community is established, no matter how many elite invasions and conquests, or how many slaves brought; there might be small but significant changes to Y-DNA and mt-DNA respectively. But autossomes are likely to remain the same, with only residual contribution (except if food producing improvements are brought by migrants as said). At least until such times when machines till the soil, people don’t live at the Malthusian limit, and they don’t continue to reproduce even though food available. [very slight lean toward agreement, Razib]

All this brings me to my final point. The closest analog to the “Ancestral South Indians” (ASI), who contribute ~45% of the ancestry of modern South Asians, are the native peoples of the Andaman Islanders (the period of divergence may be on the order of 20-30,000 years B.P.). The Andaman Islanders were obligate hunter-gatherers, and have a clear difficultly adapting to agricultural life. Were the ASI then hunter-gatherers assimilated by the “Ancestral North Indian” farmers? Diogenes says no. Rather, the survival of a substantial ASI element in the South Asian population is due, in his mind, to the fact that the ASI were themselves indigenous farmers. The analogy here then may be best made with the New World where agricultural indigenous populations in Mesoamerica and the highlands of South America were able to hold their own, and amalgamate with the Old World settlers, European and African. Greg Cochran recently said something similar as well, and the issue has been gnawing at me since First Farmers. I think I agree. My confidence is the proposition is very modest…but I have a difficult time understanding why ASI hunter-gatherers managed to contribute so much to the South Asian genome when related indigenous groups in Southeast Asia were so quickly marginalized by East Eurasian groups moving from the north.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Anthroplogy, Genetics, Genomics
  • John Emerson

    The Bantu were not advanced by our standards or by the standards of their northern neighbors, but they didn’t approximate the first agriculturalist-pastoralists either. They smelted iron, for one.

  • Garvan

    Everything in this post up to the last sentence sounded right to me.

    But what did Razib mean when he said “when related indigenous groups in Southeast Asia were so quickly marginalized by East Eurasian groups moving from the north.”? The historical expansion of Chinese populations into SE Asia happened when agriculture was already established for 4000 years (a guess, but irrigation, 100 km straight roads, etc. were already evident, so work backwards), and according to the old history books I have read (pre-genetics era history) , involved military and political elites, rather than large scale population movements. And pre-history genetics suggest continuity of populations (Mon) since for 10,000 in the Chao Phraya basin.

    From what I see, is there not a stronger connection between the Mon-Khmer Austro-Asiatic languages with India than with East Asia?

    I understand the population in the Chao Phraya basin is ethnically Mon, and the population of the lower Mekong basin is Khmer. Looking at these populations in admixture, you see more Indian admixture in the Thai (Mon) than in the Khmer, but little other difference.

    I think there is a lot to be discovered.

    Garvan

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

    From what I see, is there not a stronger connection between the Mon-Khmer Austro-Asiatic languages with India than with East Asia?

    what i meant is that there is a common substrate across south and southeast asia which seems to have been submerged. far more so in southeast asia than in south asian. so southeast asians have ~10% “south asian” element which in some ADMIXTURE runs can push into oceania, and i believe can not be attributed to historical migration. rather, what i’m proposing is that the southeast asian cousins of ASI did not engage intensive agriculture, just as the hunter-gatherer andaman islanders did not, and so were demographically swamped out.

  • Sandgroper
  • Colin

    The list of ten seems to lean too heavily on one model of agricultural society, and a pretty established one at that. The wave front of early farmers wouldn’t necessarily have such formalized roles and hierarchical levels of society. There existence is an empirical question to be determined with archaeological data; hypotheses can be formed using the differences between mt-, y- and autosomal DNA but they don’t seem sufficient to answer these hypotheses.

    A separate point was presented exhaustively by Arias (1999) where higher density, sedentary coastal hunter-gatherers (subsisting off a combination of marine and terrestrial resources) were able to co-exist with early farmers along the European coastlines for 400-1000 years before being replaced/admixted/acculturated.

  • Matt

    I have a difficult time understanding why ASI hunter-gatherers managed to contribute so much to the South Asian genome when related indigenous groups in Southeast Asia were so quickly marginalized by East Eurasian groups moving from the north.

    Throwing ideas out to try and explain this differential persistence of South Asian element (if it really exists):

    - Most simply, some kind of disease threshold between Western Asia and Southern Asia that didn’t exist between East Asia and South East Asia and favors native hunter gatherers?

    - Or ideas which suggest themselves from the a recent craniometric paper I saw on Dienekes blog -http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/02/human-migration-and-cultural-change-in.html (and interpreted and blogged later on elsewhere), which appears to show a pattern of initial Neolithic population growth in Europe without replacement, followed by eventual adoption of pastrolism/agriculture by populations similar to the European Mesolithic foragers in marginal habitats on the Russian steppe (though it doesn’t say too much about the relative similarity to later populations):

    1. This suggests maybe the persistence of marginal, yet livable, habitats where hunter gatherer populations can adopt agriculture and expand later, might explain more survival in South Asia than in South East Asia, if there were more of these.

    2. Maybe the presence of pastoralism among farmer neighbours helps hunter gatherers “climb up” to higher population densities and from there transition more easily to agriculture and form a considerable part of the current genetic mix. That is to say, if pastoralism is more easily adopted by hunter gatherers than any kind of agriculture, even horticulturalism, and tends to increase populations to a much larger volume, hunter gatherers in contact with more mixed pastoral-agricultural populations may suffer less wipeout. If pastoral elements were more absent in the expanding farming populations in South East Asia than in South Asia (or the freedom to adopt pastoral elements more constrained among South East Asian hunter gatherers)…

    3. Some of the commentry on the above paper also suggested that the original Neolithic farmers of Europe suffered reverses due to climate change, allowing some degree of the re-emergence of foragers who took up agriculture, despite an initial demographic disadvantage. Maybe the case in South Asia as well?

    - Alternatively, hunter gatherer populations becoming agricultural and agricultural in a way and to a degree which produces population growth could just be a kind of rare event that happens, and can be significant affect later demographics strongly, if it feeds into an initial rapid expansion early, but is ultimately sort of a random event, which happened in South Asia but not South East Asia. Though that seems like the least attractive idea.

    Of course, the tough thing would be testing any of those.

  • http://abugblog.blogspot.com Blackbird

    As for the lack of swamping of ASI, the movements across Europe and round Africa happened in a relatively similar environment where the set of domesticated plants and animals were likely to do well. In India large pockets of environmentally unsuitable climate could have stopped the progress of the farming invaders and allowed the persistance of ASI and slow introgression of both cultures. Think of failures of Europeans to transport their cattle/sheep/wheat system to Africa, or the coexistance of Bantu/San in Southern Africa.

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

    As for the lack of swamping of ASI, the movements across Europe and round Africa happened in a relatively similar environment where the set of domesticated plants and animals were likely to do well.

    the same applies to southeast asia. why the difference would you think?

    Think of failures of Europeans to transport their cattle/sheep/wheat system to Africa, or the coexistance of Bantu/San in Southern Africa.

    yes. but the genetic chasm here is huge. and the san don’t have that much bantu. and the bantu at MOST among the xhosa are ~20% khoisan.

  • http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    What seems to have happened in India is:

    1. Ca. 7000 BCE — Indus River Valley/Harappan Neolithic starts using Fertile Cresent crops. This does not expand beyond the core ANI area because Fertile Cresent crops do not thrive in the core ASI area which remains hunter-gatherer in lieu of an alternative. This is the same reason that the package of Fertile Cresent crops do not descend South of the Sahara. The long cultural unity suggests a single instance of settlement that remained coherent until its collapse around the time that the Bronze Age starts or a bit earlier ca. 2500 BCE to 2000 BCE.

    [1.5 Ca. 4000 BCE-3000 BCE - Austroasiatic expansion reaches NE India and brings Munda languages, but this does not extend into area already held by Harappans and stalls because the South Chinese agricultural package is a poor fit for local climate. Better suited subsequent Dravidans and prior Harappans outmatch them and ultimately Austroasiatic peoples revert to foraging and are marginalized into tribal populations.]

    2. Ca. 3000 BCE-2500BCE – South Asian Neolithic develops agriculture centered around African Sahel domesticates that are more suitable to local conditions that arrive in the vicinity of the Andhar Pradesh coast by sea. They expand demically from the East Coast of India bringing the Dravidian language and their Neolithic culture to the rest of India where the Indus River Valley/North Indian civilization has not established itself.

    3. The distance and Indian Ocean barrier between the source of the domesticates that drive this expansion (the African Sahel) and South India causes the demic input (indicated by Y-DNA haplogroup T with geographic source and cultural affinity unclear) to be modest and strongly male biased and geographically limited to the initial proto-culture area, rather than a demic replacement scenario seen elsewhere. Beyond the proto-culture area, farming spreads culturally rather than demically.

    Also demic input from Sahel crop providers may be hard to distinguish genetically from ANI component autosomally as both have roots at some point in SW Asia in the Neolithic era (at that point about 5000 years old). Unusually large indigeneous component to Dravidian population makes expanding Dravidians ASI signature hard to distinguish from the marginalized hunter-gather population signatures.

    4. Ca. 2000 BCE-1500 BCE – Indo-Aryan migration using Bronze Age technologies and horses extends into rest of India, in part as a ruling class over existing farmers from South Asian Neolithic. The mix of indigeneous Indus River Valley people and outsider Central Asian Indo-Europeans is the genetic ANI signature.

    5. Much later: Tibeto-Burman populations migrate into NE India and remain relatively unadmixed.

    I have a difficult time understanding why ASI hunter-gatherers managed to contribute so much to the South Asian genome when related indigenous groups in Southeast Asia were so quickly marginalized by East Eurasian groups moving from the north.

    In the absence of strong geographic barriers, East Eurasians from the north could demically replace populations that was not possible for the population that brought African Sahel crops to India, which the culture transmiting population could not expand as rapidly as farming culture did, and the necessity of integrating local populations into the farming effort facilitated cultural diffusion of farming technology beyond the core area.

    It is also possible that the proto-Dravidians were a fishing culture, a bit like the Jomon in Japan and NW Pacific Amerindians and Comb culture of the Baltics. Fishing cultures seemed to be intermediate between land based hunter-gatherers and farmers in staying power as more sophisticated culturally than land based hunter-gatherers. The amount of ANI-ASI mix is on the same order of magnitude as the Jomon-Yaoyi mix in Japan.

    Note that this is a much weaker scenario than the Bernard Sergent hypothesis about the origins of the Dravidian language. It reconciles that odd distribution of Y-DNA haplogroup T which is in high frequency in the proto-Dravidian area where the South Indian Neolithic probably originated but low frequency in the rest of South Asia where Dravidians were at some point, the fact that South Asian Neolithic crops were mostly African Sahel domesticates (although there were a few secondary domestications in India), the archaeological and historical data about farming prior to the Indo-Aryans, and the similarity of ASI to Andamanese genetically.

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

    @Andrew Oh-Willeke no. 9

    “Bernard Sergent hypothesis about the origins of the Dravidian language. It reconciles that odd distribution of Y-DNA haplogroup T which is in high frequency in the proto-Dravidian area”

    Bernard Sergent’s Afro-Dravidian hypothesis definitely has its merits. But I would correlate it with the Y-DNA DE cluster (D in Andamanese, E all over Africa, but in Khoisans only as admixture), not with hg T. Also, it’s probably Dravidians who stayed behind in India (Sergent misuses the argument of linguistic diversity to argue for the African origin of Dravidians), with the carriers of Congo-Saharan languages (Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan) and Y-DNA hg E expanding into Africa, rather than the other way around. The mirror image of this situation is the Austric languages in South and SEAsia: Munda stayed behind in India, while Mon-Khmer, Austronesian, etc. expanded into Oceania. India and Tibet are likely old refugia that retained Pleistocene populations whose descendants expanded into Africa and Oceania.

    Although hg D is not well-attested in Dravidians, it’s found in both Tibetans and Andamanese pointing to its antiquity in South Asia. It was later overrun by newcomers such as hg T, but this gene flow wasn’t associated with the spread of Dravidian. Dravidian languages must have been spoken there prior to the hg T, etc. inflow.

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

    @Razib

    “I have a difficult time understanding why ASI hunter-gatherers managed to contribute so much to the South Asian genome when related indigenous groups in Southeast Asia were so quickly marginalized by East Eurasian groups moving from the north.”

    But if you look further down into Oceania, you’ll find a similar situation to the South Indian one, with indigenous foragers supposedly contributing up to 80% of paternal lineages to the incoming Austronesian agriculturalists. This was undoubtedly facilitated by Austronesian matrilocality/matrilinearity that tends to bring a large number of indigenous men in. (In India, Munda are patrilineal/patrilocal and their mtDNA, instead, is all South Indian and not SEAsian). But still matrilocality can hardly explain the magnitude of absorption. The problem in the Oceanic region is that Y-DNA hg C (same phylogenetic depth as hgs D and E), which is very frequent in Polynesians, doesn’t seem to derive from any known indigenous “Papuan” population, but rather the other way around. My tentative solution to this oddity in Oceania was the logical opposite of yours for South Asia: Austronesians were originally foragers and penetrated western Oceania earlier than we think. They were part of the original “Papuan” colonization but then developed agriculture independently from the South China epicenter, just like Trans-New Guineans did in PNG. The recently suggested linguistic link between Austronesian and Andamanese languages (Blevins from Max Planck) seems to support this. Later, hg O entered the region en masse but it wasn’t associated with the spread of Austronesian languages and didn’t penetrate deeply into Oceania.

  • ryan

    The natives of North America were mostly corn farmers. Their replacement by British colonists had a lot to with disease resistance, with ideology, and to some degree with technological differences, though at the frontier and in the early days, this wasn’t a major factor, and sheer numbers may have been more important. In many of the early wars, the “Indians” gave as good as they got, and bow and arrow were actually more effective than arrant 17th & 18th century bullets in the woodland settings that were often chosen for battle.

    Except at certain extremes in Canada and in the prairie and mountain west, this wasn’t really a replacement of foragers by agriculturalists.

  • http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    @ German Dziebel no. 10

    The distributions of Y-DNA haplogroups D and T are two of the most fascinating mysteries of archaeogenetics.

    I think you notion of Y-DNA haplogroup E having origins outside Africa doesn’t hold water. E has maximal diversity in Africa. Non-African E is a minor and phylogenetically disjoint set of sub-hgs that have basal roots in Africa and are close geographically to Africa in areas that have had trade and interaction with Africa in the historic era and earlier, while absent in East Eurasia which have not have trade or interaction with Africa until ca. 1000 BCE. Paragroup DE* and D* are found in West Africa, while paragroup DE* is not found outside Africa. Macrohaplogroup DE is a descendant of Y-DNA hg B which is exclusively African. Hg D appears to have been originally found in conjunction with mtDNA hg M which is found only in clearly backmigrated hg M1 in Africa, while Hg E is almost never found in conjunction with other types of mtDNA hg M. Y-DNA macrohaplogroup DE generally is very distant from the predominant Eurasian macrohaplogroup Y-DNA CF which also descendant from Y-DNA hg B.

    The African time and place of domestication of some key early South Indian Neolithic crops (e.g. pearl millet), also makes clear that those crops went from Africa to India and not the other way arond.

    The Congo-Saharan macrolinguistic family, which Blench discusses briefly here, is a plausible enough linguistic hypothesis (with the similarities between Kadu which was originally classified as Niger-Congo and then reclassified as Nilo-Saharan illustrating the possible links). But, there is simply no genetic link between any Niger-Congo language speaking peoples except the Fulbe of North Cameroon, or any Nilo-Saharan language speaking peoples, other than Y-DNA haplogroup Y to show any connection to South Asia not attributable clearly to the historic era. Outside South Asia, hg T is predominantly found in Afro-Asiatic language speaking peoples (particularly Cushitic and Omotic and in populations that spoke Coptic languages prior to Islam), although we can’t be entirely clear what the linguistic situation looked like ca. 3000 BCE. One can imagine a small seminal group in a South Asian expansion bringing African linguistic influences to South Asia that are atypical of the hg associate with that group as a whole. One cannot imagine the entire Congo-Saharan people having roots that don’t show up genetically at all except in one very marginal population.

    Re: Austic languages, suffice it to say that your proposal has no mainstream or even fringe academic supporters. Certainly, almost all East Asians came via the Southern Coastal route, but there is no good reason to expect detectable linguistic continuity to Munda from that event eighty millenia later – the link is much more recent and in the other direction.

    Similarly, associating hg D which is not found in Dravidians with Dravidian expansion, but not hg T whose South Asian distribution closely matches the proto-Dravidian area and is at high frequencies there is silly. Dravidian linguistic roots may predate hg T in India as one of many indigenous languages in South India (although no one really knows for sure), but whatever language or ethnicity was associated with hg D (presumably some macrolinguistic family that would include Ainu and Andamanese and perhaps a few other tiny linguistic isolates of South Asia and the vicinity or Negrito populations) was wiped out in lowland continental South Asia somehow or other before Dravidians arose, or it would be found at some low frequency in Dravidians. Instead, outside Japan, Tibet and the Andamans, it is found at low frequency in Eastern Siberia and probably attributable to admixutre of the predominant source of modern Eastern Siberian populations with Paleosiberians of some sort.

    @ Ryan no. 12

    There were Amerindian corn farmers, but many Amerindians were foragers or fishers. Disease resistance dealt an initial blow, but by 1900 CE, Amerindian populations had dropped to 95% below where they started due to continuing declines after the initial blow. It is hard to know if high admixture in Latin America was due to Latin culture or Meso-American/Inca agricultural prowess. The Native Americans who maintained distinct cultures the longest were those who went from being foragers to pastoralists.

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

    @ oh-willeke no. 13

    Andrew you’re wrong in every instance.

    “Paragroup DE* and D* are found in West Africa, while paragroup DE* is not found outside Africa.”

    False. Paragroup DE is found in Asia, too, namely in Tibetans: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/6/45 (Table 2). D* is only found in Asia. E* was found in Dungra Bhil, an Indo-European speaking group in west India, which likely absorbed a Dravidian substratum. It was also found in West Asia. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2156/10/59

    “it is found at low frequency in Eastern Siberia and probably attributable to admixutre of the predominant source of modern Eastern Siberian populations with Paleosiberians of some sort.”

    FYI: Hg D is also found in Altaic populations of South Siberia. I don’t know what “Eastern Siberians” you have in mind.

    “Macrohaplogroup DE is a descendant of Y-DNA hg B which is exclusively African.”

    False. The African-specific hg E is nested within the non-African CDEF clade, which strongly indicates a back-migration into Africa. Plus age estimates for hg D are higher than for E, although the molecular clock is uncertain. The place of the root of the Y-DNA tree is another controversial question issue (see the “Balanced Tree hypothesis”).

    “Y-DNA macrohaplogroup DE generally is very distant from the predominant Eurasian macrohaplogroup Y-DNA CF which also descendant from Y-DNA hg B.”

    False. CFDE is also known as CT and it’s hg’s B sister clade.

    “But, there is simply no genetic link between any Niger-Congo language speaking peoples except the Fulbe of North Cameroon, or any Nilo-Saharan language speaking peoples, other than Y-DNA haplogroup Y to show any connection to South Asia…”

    Sergent suggests that this connection exists. He even explains all of Niger-Congo noun classes as derived from Dravidian prepositions. The Afro-Dravidian hypothesis is based on many similarities between various Niger-Congo languages and Dravidian languages. Musically, Sergent notes similarity in musical instruments. Plus the most common African vocal style, namely “call-and-response” is found in India (see on Jugalbandi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugalbandi). This is not of “historical time” origin.

    “Hg D appears to have been originally found in conjunction with mtDNA hg M which is found only in clearly backmigrated hg M1 in Africa, while Hg E is almost never found in conjunction with other types of mtDNA hg M.”

    I don’t understand who and when found mtDNA M in conjunction with Y-DNA D but on some abstract level it does make sense. Y-DNA and mtDNA trees don’t perfectly map onto each other, but if force them a little bit, then Y-DNA E will correspond to mtDNA L2’3’4’6. Note that L6, a small but divergent lineage, is found in North Africa and in West Asia.

    “Outside South Asia, hg T is predominantly found in Afro-Asiatic language speaking peoples (particularly Cushitic and Omotic and in populations that spoke Coptic languages prior to Islam),”

    Here you go. According to Sergent, it’s Dravidian and Niger-Congo that are related, not Dravidian and Afroasiatic. So hg T doesn’t fit Sergent’s hypothesis, but hg E fits nicely.

    “The African time and place of domestication of some key early South Indian Neolithic crops (e.g. pearl millet), also makes clear that those crops went from Africa to India and not the other way arond.”

    This has nothing to do with the spread of the language. The crop came from Africa without the language spread. Comp. the Polynesian-South American sweet potato: no language sharing, only crop sharing.

    “Austic languages, suffice it to say that your proposal has no mainstream or even fringe academic supporters. Certainly, almost all East Asians came via the Southern Coastal route, but there is no good reason to expect detectable linguistic continuity to Munda from that event eighty millenia later – the link is much more recent and in the other direction.”

    The mainstream linguistic opinion is that Munda is the most archaic branch of Austroasiatic. See, e.g., van Driem’s “Languages of the Himalayas.” Similarly, if Sergent is right, Dravidian prepositions predate Niger-Congo noun classes. Some geneticists argued that Munda came to India from SEAsia but this idea certainly works for Khasi but not for Munda. Munda has mtDNA B6, whereas Khasi, just like Nicobarese have B5, etc.

    “Similarly, associating hg D which is not found in Dravidians with Dravidian expansion, but not hg T whose South Asian distribution closely matches the proto-Dravidian area and is at high frequencies there is silly.”

    I understand this could be construed as a difficulty, but then India experienced several massive population movements, so the displacement of hg D from Dravidians and it’s survival on the fringes of the South Asian area (Andamanese and Tibetans) is very plausible. Plus it’s a rare haplogroup, so it may end up being detected in Dravidians. I agree that Munda is connected to Asia, while Dravidian to Africa, but both of them are relic language families/subgroups that stayed behind, whereas their relatives expanded.

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

    Among Dravidians, Koraga from Karnataka (S-W India), tested positive for YAP. It means they are either E* or D* (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14761656). So, we do have two instances of YAP+ in West India: Dungra Bhil, with a possible Dravidian connection, and Dravidian-speaking Koraga. This is not bad for a haplogroup found at low frequencies and with a patchy distribution in Asia.

    As far as Austric goes, for a superfamily, it’s a rather well substantiated grouping, with several very mainstream linguists behind it. We’re of course in the realm of conjectures here but it’s good to pull the troops together every now and then to see how well old conjectures fit the new data.

  • dave chamberlin

    The rapid replacement of foragers by agriculturalists didn’t happen pre 1492 in North America because the agriculturists had very few domesticated animals . The Amerinds were obliterated by disease but the Filipinos were not. What was the primary difference? The Filipinos had the domesticated pig while the Amerinds did not, so it appears that the pig was not just tasty but a powerful biological weapon once the pig farmers had built up resistance to disease originating from living in close proximity to the pig. At least that was the point made by Charles Mann in 1491.

  • ryan

    >There were Amerindian corn farmers, but many Amerindians were foragers or fishers. Disease resistance dealt an initial blow, but by 1900 CE, Amerindian populations had dropped to 95% below where they started due to continuing declines after the initial blow. It is hard to know if high admixture in Latin America was due to Latin culture or Meso-American/Inca agricultural prowess. The Native Americans who maintained distinct cultures the longest were those who went from being foragers to pastoralists.

    I can’t make a single sentence in this paragraph correspond to anything I know about native american history. The entire area from Texas and the Rio Grande to Florida to New England, through the Great Lakes and up the Missouri was a corn farming region. The mountain west was sparsely populated, as were the high plains aside from the river valley towns. The “fishers” were living in large towns, and seem a poor basis for building a case around agricultural displacement of forager populations. They seem much closer to the fishing towns that seem to have been a bridge to urban culture in much of the old world than to a pre-agricultural foraging phase. I admit to knowing little of central California, but having already staked a solid claim to 98% of the agriculturally useful land of north america, I’m willing to accept that I could be wrong about central California, and still your characterization of the precontact population ‘some farmers, some foragers, some fishers’ would be so lacking in perspective as to be unrecognizable. The middle two sentences don’t make sense purely on the basis of mapping logic to grammar. If I understand what you’re trying to say, then the word “but” is out of place, and at any rate, 90% decreases had been recorded three centuries before the date you mention, which caused massive cultural dislocation, so the point of your “continuing declines” is rather diluted. Yes, it’s true that Algonquian populations continued to decline in the post-contact period, but disease had wiped out so many people that entire strings of villages had been abandoned and the colonists believed they had come upon vast areas of virgin land suitable for farming when in fact these lands had been left by plague-ridden corn farmers only a few decades before. The sentence about admixture being attributable to the success of one or the other is pretty much pure internal non sequitur. Finally, as to cultures that “maintained distinctiveness longest”, in what is now the US, the Ojibwe were not foragers who became pastoralists. They farmed the trinitarian crops of corn, beans and squash. It’s unclear which pre-contact people may have become the Navajo, but they were living in a land substantially inhabited by corn farmers for 10 centuries or more. They did indeed pass through a period of pastoralism that lasted a few decades, though it’s hard to see what bearing that had on their cultural persistence. Other Rio Grande peoples that maintain strong religious customs and connections today were corn farmers through 5 centuries of recorded history. The amazing thing about antebellum native populations in the Southeast is precisely that their culture so closely mirrored the culture of the people who forced them out. Virtually none of the Meso-American cultures that maintain distinctiveness were foragers, and few of those that maintain distinctiveness are now pastoral. And people are increasingly aware the agriculture had a much stronger hold on the Amazon basin pre-contact than it does even today.

    But hey, you’ve still got the Inuit areas!

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

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

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT

RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »