The Anglosphere American exception (?)

By Razib Khan | April 10, 2012 10:49 pm

PLoS ONE has another article up about admixture in Argentina. The interesting aspect is that in its self-conception Argentina, like the United States of America or Australia, is a European settler nation, and therefore unlike Mexico, Boliva, or Brazil, each of whom de jure or de facto espouse a multicultural and multiracial identity. Buenos Ares is in its mentality more a Southern European city situated in the antipodes, with a touch of old Mitteleuropa (Argentines are avid consumers of psychoanalysis). As noted in the PLoS article, ~1 percent of the citizens of Argentina identify as indigenous, but ~20 percent of the ancestry of Argentina’s population seems to derive from Amerindian sources! The paper itself adds little new here. Rather, it increases the sample size, and confirms that the Amerindian ancestry does seem to be lower in Buenos Ares, the magnet for so much Italian immigration.

But what is most interesting, though not necessarily surprising, is that of those Argentines who claim four European grandparents (N = 22), the average proportion of European ancestry was 91 percent. The issue here is that an individual who claims four European grandparents should have close to 100 percent European ancestry. So what’s going on? First, I think the use of ancestrally informative markers is probably introducing noise; we can’t be sure that there won’t be residual “non-European” ancestry even in Europeans. Second, the respondents might be honest about what they know, but their grandparents may have not told them the whole truth about their backgrounds With a standard deviation of 9 percent I’m pretty sure that some of these 22 individuals do have substantial non-European ancestry. I don’t think ancestrally informative markers would be off that far.

For me the key fact to observe is that if you drew 22 random white (non-Hispanic) Americans you are almost certainly to get no more than a few percent non-European ancestry at most. If you selected Americans who claimed 4 European born grandparents there would be almost no non-European ancestry. Over the past year and a half I have done deeper analyses of friends who have received genotypes from 23andMe. These results align with what I’ve observed. White Americans generally look in vain for Native American ancestry. In contrast, white Latin Americans tend to have substantial non-European ancestry. And intriguingly it seems that many have unknown African ancestry. This highlights the difference between the settlement of Anglo-America, and Latin America. The demographic replacement of Amerindians in Anglo-America was radical and extreme. In contrast, even in self-consciously European settler regions such as South American’s southern cone a substantial proportion of Amerindian ancestry is present in contemporary populations. Because of the large number of Native Americans of mixed heritage it is likely that total Native American identified population is actually very similar to the amount of non-Hispanic Native American ancestry in the USA (i.e., numerous non-Native American identified whites and blacks with small quanta of ancestry will sum to be about the same absolute amount as the small number of Native Americans who are substantially indigenous). While 1.5 percent of Argentines identify as indigenous, 1 percent of Americans are Native American.

Finally, on a minor note, many Argentines have African ancestry. The historical reason for this is not too surprising. People of African ancestry were substantial auxiliaries serving the Spanish Empire right up to independence. After independence they were rapidly assimilated in most of the new nations. Despite the fact that a substantial majority of Mexicans have African ancestry, this heritage is unknown to them. Additionally, I’m willing to put down good money that the majority of white Cubans whose own parents did not immigrate directly from Europe also have clearly detectable African ancestry on the genomic level. That would mean that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is likely a double minority by the rubric of hypodescent, which Americans as illustrious as Halle Berry and Barack Hussein Obama espouse to this day. In fact, the majority of “white Hispanics” are also black according to hypodescent.

Image credit: Wikipedia

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Human Genetics, Human Genomics
MORE ABOUT: Argentina
  • Antonio Pedro

    Would interested to compare Europeans-Argentineans with Europeans-USA people from the regions were the mixing was actually possible, such as the USA South or the first settlers in Virginia. There are vast regions in USA were no mixing was possible just because everybody was European.

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

    USA people from the regions were the mixing was actually possible, such as the USA South or the first settlers in Virginia.

    i’ve seen reasonably large european american samples besides the utah whites now (usually in various medical studies which control for pop. stratification). the admixture proportions are pretty small. about 1 order of magnitude below the argentine.

    now, i grant that most ‘old stock’ americans easily have some native americans, and in the south perhaps blacks, in their genealogy. but it does not seem they have enough that it left much of a genomic impact.

  • Antonio Pedro

    “In fact, the majority of “white Hispanics” are also black according to hypodescent.” well, many white americans too. The thing is that the way USA racism and demography co-evolved made it impossible the existence of too many mixed individuals just because the first mixed generation was force to be explicitly non-white in a very racist society and thus they had a very low chance of marrying whites. In Latin America the racism was not so intense, at least in the sense that mixed people were not automatically force to be non-white. Intermediate categories allowed for more mixing, which was ilegal in US.

  • Antonio Pedro

    Razib, I can’t see why be 1% mixed as oppose to 5 % mixed matter.

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

    , I can’t see why be 1% mixed as oppose to 5 % mixed matter.

    to be clear, the 1 percent is more likely to be native than black i think. as a point of fact very few white americans seem to have detectable african ancestry even at 500 K to 1 million SNPs (at least unless you do fancy stuff like phasing). so the equivalence is kind of false. the ‘purity’ of old stock americans was surprising to me. latin americans are simply in no way comparable to north americans in this way, unless 1-2 orders of magnitude don’t bother you.

    in any case, out of 78,000 23andme totally white customers 3 to 4 percent have AS much as 0.5 to 0.75 percent african ancestry. i think that’s a good estimate of north americans. europeans will drag it down, but white hispanics will push it up.

  • Antonio Pedro

    the only think that bothers me is the miss-use of this type of statement by people who will say “ha! I new we are superiors!” but I guess the is off-topic ….. back to the topic my point is that this differences are minimal in the sense of being unlike to produce different phenotypes; the difference among phenotypes will be driven by difference among european components themselves. Besides, many europeans have themselves a non-european component. And this can happen in “surprising” ways: Finish or Russian individuals might have non-trivial eastern eurasian component and still be more pale than 100 % europeans from the South or West of Europe. Please, correct if I am wrong. Cheers, apr.

  • http://abitmoredetail.wordpress.com Randy McDonald

    As I understand it, the intermixture of Old World migrant populations with New World ones in early Anglo-America was much more common among Africans than Europeans. The taboos prevailing among Virginians of European extraction weren’t relevant for Virginians of African extraction.

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

    Finish or Russian individuals might have non-trivial eastern eurasian component and still be more pale than 100 % europeans from the South or West of Europe

    sure. but as you said, you are talking about something different.

    As I understand it, the intermixture of Old World migrant populations with New World ones in early Anglo-America was much more common among Africans than Europeans.

    to a great extent this is a myth as well, though perhaps just a touch less. and actually, it is not a myth if you reverse source and target populations: “amerindians” (e.g., the ‘southern’ tribes) have much more proportional african ancestry than afrian americans have amerindian ancestry.

  • KBH

    As an “old stock” American (as far as I can tell, every ancestor of mine was here before 1800), there are some family traditions of two marriages with American Indians, but all are pre–1850, so even if true, I cannot imagine they left much genetic impact. However, in East Kentucky/Tennessee, there are some groups of old stock Americans who show significant Indian (and African–American) admixture in their phenotypes. I don’t know if you have any samples from there, but it would be interesting. (Kentucky and Tennessee are both the states with the largest percentages of “American” as self–reported ethnicity.)

  • Antonio Pedro

    How does South Africa fits here? Can we consider then part of the Anglosphere? I suspected the have considerable more mixing than US people.

  • Ezequiel

    My questions here would be:

    1. How many of these European grandparents are Spanish? (My guess: many)

    2. How much African admixture is there in Spain? (Quick Googling says 3%)

    3. How much Amerindian admixture is there in Spain? (Probably very little)

    There has historically been some movement back from the Americas to Spain. I’m Spanish and a few of my ancestors were Cuban. People with existing links to America might emigrate more readily: you would have cousins to take care of you.

    So maybe there is some mixture already in the source.

  • Dm

    Ditto Ezequiel, I also thought that South European origin of European migrants (also Sicilian, Balkan, Sephardic) means that a good portion of the “non-European” admixture might have originated there.

    Of course it’s thought that Afro population historically may have _exceeded_ the European-Argentine population in many regions. The trends shifted dramatically since mid-XIX c., especially after President Sarmiento set the country on the “Europeization” course, encouraging a huge wave white-only immigration and pushing the blacks out of the economy, culture, and, ultimately, demographics. African words were pushed out of the mainstream language into lunfardo slang, and even African beats of milonga and tango were cleansed of their roots by removing percussion from the music.

  • Roman

    Razib,

    On the link you posted regarding Mexican admixture, what would the Blue-Green component correspond to? It is the one found in most of the Native American groups, Mexicans, Europeans (low levels), the Pygmies, San and the Bantu (even lower level).

    Is this something interesting or a result of the particular methodology?

    Thanks

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

    How does South Africa fits here? Can we consider then part of the Anglosphere? I suspected the have considerable more mixing than US people.

    afrikaners: 0-5% non-white

    english speaking whites (which include many recent immigrants, like lithuanian jews), ~0% non-white.

    afrikaners are not part of the angloshere IMO. even after conquest they were attracted to german(inc) nationalism.

    re: non-white ancestry due to spanish ancestry. this looks like too much by several multiples. probably order of mag if you recall many non-spanish (italian, central european) grandparents.

  • alexis

    Razib, I’m waiting for your analysis of Melungeons and other “tri-racial isolate groups”.

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

    #15, go to wikipedia, been done.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Should we really talk about an Anglosphere exception when you mean an American exception?

    I’m not aware of any admixture studies of white Canadians, Australians, or New Zealanders. However, I wouldn’t be surprised in in some cases non-white admixture was closer to the Afrikaner levels than the white American levels – particularly for Australia, and French-Canadians (although I know the latter doesn’t count). Certainly the color lines were not tremendously high barriers in comparison to the U.S.

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

    #17, interesting point. i have seen fair large data sets out of australia. but i think i’ll change the title.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Razib,

    What were the results for Australia? I’d think the policy for 100 years of taking any “aborigine” 75% or more European away, and putting them in white foster families, would have resulted in some Aboriginal ancestry.

    Also, the early use of Australia as a penal colony meant that the gender balance was way off. Out of the 167,000 convicts brought in before 1868, only 25,000 were women. Some free settlers were migrating as well, of course, but they did not have a surfeit of women.

    Of course, the Aboriginal population was never as high as the indigenous population in the Americas, so it may have been lost in the shuffle so to speak.

  • iberian

    Non European and non “White” is not the same. Spaniards have more non European (Arab,Berber,Hebrew,etç…), English have more non white (Negros,Indians,…). Don´t forget that the English, Dutch or Germans, buy a lot of blacks from the Portuguese(there was more black slaves in England than Portugal in XVI century). Italians don´t need; they have a lot of white slaves: Albanians,Slavs, Circassians,etc…

  • Latifundiário

    By the rubric of hypodescent Europeans would be Neanderthals and if you were not a Catholic you would not even be considered a Complete Human Being in places like Colonial Brazil. Even a Black Catholic had a superior status than any Protestant, Jew, Muslim or Hindu in the oldie good Colonial times ! The Mayflower was lucky to reach the empty Northern Cuban shores because in our First South America they would be easily exterminated in the 1620’s !

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

    Spaniards have more non European (Arab,Berber,Hebrew,etç…), English have more non white (Negros,Indians,…). Don´t forget that the English, Dutch or Germans, buy a lot of blacks from the Portuguese(there was more black slaves in England than Portugal in XVI century).

    this is false. the 1000 genomes has a lot of spanish data. it seems clear that in fact spaniards have a particular excess of (a percent here and a percent there) of sub-saharan african ancestry. i’ve played with the data set myself, and this is pretty obvious when you compare to other european data. the main exception are the basques.

    this isn’t an issue that’s really up for debate. unless you argue strong unrepresentativeness the data are as they say. you can play with them yourselves. you should get yourself genotyped.

  • http://abitmoredetail.wordpress.com Randy McDonald

    I’d be quite interested in genetic studies of French Canada, which had friendly and more intimate relationship with indigenous peoples than contemporary Virginians or New Englanders (at least by reputation). The existence of traditionally Francophone Metis in western Canada points to the possibility of a substantial indigenous genetic presence in the French Canadian gene pool.

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

    Ok. You are right. But the difference is meaningless and certainly don´t justify the question in Argentina. And I never met someone with full Spaniard or Portuguese ancestry that show mixed features, like I saw betwen the Boers, for instance.

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

    . But the difference is meaningless and certainly don´t justify the question in Argentina.

    i agree. the argentine fractions are far too high to be explained by spanish sub-saharan ancestry.

    And I never met someone with full Spaniard or Portuguese ancestry that show mixed features, like I saw betwen the Boers, for instance.

    this does not surprise me. the latter probably have several multiples more average non-european ancestry (e.g., 0.5% vs. 3%?).

  • Onur

    this does not surprise me. the latter probably have several multiples more average non-european ancestry (e.g., 0.5% vs. 3%?).

    What is the amount of the average non-Caucasoid admixture in Boers? Also, do some Boers show non-Caucasoid physical features? 3% (if it is true) seems too low to me to have an effect on physical features.

  • MikeP

    REgarding the Non-European mixture in the Boers, how much of that is African and how much Southeast Asian? I recall reading somewhere that a lot of the really early founding “Dutch” were actually mixed race people from their colonies in SE Asia.

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

    3% (if it is true) seems too low to me to have an effect on physical features.

    the key is that there is going to be variance about this, and a non-symmetrical amount at that. it is possible that someone with 15% non-euro admixture would show some evidence, because the boer are mostly dutch and german (with some south french too), and so very fair and northern european in the null.

    #28, you are probably correct. see my posts on cape coloureds. the boer admixture will be a reflection of those proportions.

  • Onur

    the key is that there is going to be variance about this, and a non-symmetrical amount at that. it is possible that someone with 15% non-euro admixture would show some evidence, because the boer are mostly dutch and german (with some south french too), and so very fair and northern european in the null.

    If their amount of non-Caucasoid admixture is very variable (say, from 0% to 20%), a minority (however small) of them may show some non-Caucasoid features despite 3% average.

  • Amanda S

    The rates of admixture amongst “New World” populations are clearly a snapshot of the present and are influenced by the time that has elapsed since colonisation has commenced. Thus the prevalence of some degree of Aboriginal or Melanesian ancestry amongst the Australian population at large would at the current time be relatively small. The Australian Bureau Of Statistics has the percentage of the population in 2006 that identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander as 2.5%. My guesstimate would be that perhaps another 2 – 5% of the population has some Aboriginal or Melanesian ancestry but does not identify as such. That’s because 25% of the Australian population was born overseas and a similarly large proportion were born to parents born overseas. This is a reflection of the fact that the Australian colony was established ~150 years after the British North American colonies which in turn were established ~120 years after the Latin American colonies.

    The trend in New World countries is for mixing to take place and as this something which cannot reverse and only grows with time, we can more or less anticipate that future New World country citizens will be roughly admixtured in proportion to the percentage that the various groups make up in the ancestral population. That doesn’t mean that all sub-groups will necessarily meld with the general population as religious groups can maintain the biological separateness for many of the people that are born into them.

    From an Australian perspective, I feel that the population of the Northern tropical parts and the Southern parts of Australia are quite likely to be different in their make-up. Northern Australia has not been that successful in attracting and retaining immigrants of European descent. Also after an initial period of traumatic decline, the Aboriginal population is growing quite fast in all parts of Australia but this is of more significance in Northern Australia because it makes up a much bigger proportion of the total. Northern Australia also quite a high percentage of people of Asian origin.

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com Lab Lemming

    Given the European component of Black Americans, doesn’t the lack of African lineage in White Americans simply tell us that historically, the US culture encouraged mixed race people to have children with black, rather than white, partners?

  • http://ironrailsironweights.wordpress.com Peter

    That would mean that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is likely a double minority by the rubric of hypodescent, which Americans as illustrious as Halle Berry and Barack Hussein Obama espouse to this day. In fact, the majority of “white Hispanics” are also black according to hypodescent.

    I don’t know … for all the talk about the One Drop Rule, in my experience it doesn’t seem to apply unless there is some physical evidence, even if slight, of black ancestry. It can also be expressed in the reverse: I’ve never known a person of completely white appearance who has identified as black based on some trace genetic evidence.

    Although in theory the One Drop Rule means that black identity continues forever, as a practical matter I believe that people with very low percentages of black ancestry, for example less than 1/32, do not generally identify as black.

  • patrick

    There seems to be both Khoisan and South/Southeast Asian ancestry among Afrikaners, at least according to Cape Colony genealogical records. Most likely white Americans have less non-Euro ancestry on average than Afrikaners.

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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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