Humanity 2.0

By Razib Khan | July 28, 2012 9:37 pm

Dienekes points to a David Reich video where he shows his hand as to future possible results to come out of his lab. The short of it is that it seems likely that most agricultural populations exhibit the same dynamic outlined in Reconstructing Indian History. At the least you have an intrusive group admixing with indigenes. At the extreme you have total replacement. The pattern is confirmed for India, Ethiopia, and Southeast Asia. It seems highly likely in Europe. There are other rumored results in East Asia which might shake things up.

On a minor note, I do want to add that I think many archaeologists aren’t going to be totally surprised that modern Europeans don’t derive by and large from Aurignacians. But, the relatively recent nature of the map of genetic variation which we take for granted probably will shock, and result in a high degree of skepticism. Yet if I had to bet I would bet on the model being sketched out by David Reich. These admixtures and replacements are likely to resolve some confusions of our understanding of the settlement of the world using simple tree models with branching points tens of thousands of years in the past (e.g., you already know that Oceanians will have a longer branch because of archaic admixture).

But one peculiar non-scientific aspect of this is going to be how it will make people reformulate their national narratives. Multi-regionalism has long been strong in China, with some arguing that it has roots in ideology. The residents of the Middle Kingdom would purportedly like to think that their ancestors were very long term residents, perhaps back to Peking Man! But it is not just Chinese who may be discomfited. Here is the website of an organization called the Asatru Alliance:

Asatru is thousands of years old. Its beginnings are lost in prehistory, but it is older than Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or most other religions. The spiritual impulses it expresses are as ancient as the European peoples themselves – at least 40,000 years, and perhaps much older.

The likely reality: Europeans as we understand them today are a synthesis of various processes between the last Ice Age and the Bronze Age, between 12 and 4 thousand years ago. Additionally, in all likelihood they are a synthesis of various peoples, not one people whose roots go back to the early Paleolithic. This is probably true for Chinese, and is certainly true for Indians. If the David Reich is right, it may be true for Australian Aborigines as well. Interesting times.

  • Brel

    Ironically, Asatru itself is a reconstruction of a branch of Indo-European religion (Germanic, more specifically Norse). And as we know, the Indo-European expansion was part of the invasions from the east that made modern Europeans who they are today.

  • Sandgroper

    I’m not able to get that Aboriginal link at all. Which, as you might imagine, is distressing for me LOL.

    I’ve been discussing origins/population substructure in China with Chinese colleagues, and they seem very relaxed about it these days – I don’t get the “We are one people” ideological thing back at me that was prevalent before. The impression I get from recent Chinese literature is the idea of regional continuity from Peking Man is pretty much dead now, or dying. Modern Chinese genetic research will kill it.

  • Sandgroper

    It’s OK, I got it. Sorry.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Apologies if I’m being thick, but where could East Asians have come from? The development of millet and rice-based agriculture in the Yellow and Yangtze river valleys doesn’t seem to have sprung from migrants from the Fertile Crescent, instead being an independent invention (although later IE-influence during the Bronze Age is possible). Southeast Asia was full of negrito/ASI-related ethnic groups of hunter-gatherers, who were very different in morphology, and display essentially no genetic traces in East Asia proper. So two cardinal directions are ruled out – along with a third, by the sea.

    I suppose I could see modern East Asians being a composite of Siberians and some now-extinct group of “Ancestral East Asians.” However, the dynamics would have been very different than the case of Europe, India, Southeast Asia, or Southern Africa, as the ethnic shift would have happened during the Mesolithic due to a flux in nomadic peoples happening just before the foundation of agriculture, not due to farmers displacing the ancestral hunter-gatherer population.

    Even if it’s mostly conjectural, I’d like another post elucidating here if possible.

  • Dienekes

    East Asia was populated by people like Moh Khiew Cave


    and Upper Cave

    All of the above don’t look like the classical Mongoloids of today, who appear to have evolved from a population related to aboriginal Siberians and Native Americans and which grew and expanded thanks to agriculture.

  • Kaviani

    @4 – Exogenesis seems to be a popular, utterly unscientific theory lately.

  • Razib Khan

    #6, say more.

  • Kosmo

    “where could East Asians have come from?”

    The Lake Biakal refugium.

  • Lab Lemming

    So is the argument that the oldest Australian human fossils predate the Denisovan mixing? How is that testable?

  • Razib Khan

    #9, no.

  • Sandgroper

    I’ve been through all the earliest Australian sites, and if you assume human occupation by 45,000 yBP, they all fit, with the exception of Rottnest Island, which at the time was not an island. I suspect that’s misdating, or misinterpretation as a human site.

    So pre-Denisovan? No.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Dienekes – while I have to say I’m not that skeptical about East Asians being intrusive from Siberia to some extent, the first link you shared is in Southeast Asia, and the second is in far Southern China – thus practically Southeast Asia itself. The third is more interesting, although given the potential large range in terms of dating (e.g., it could be from considerably before the peopling of the Americas), it doesn’t tell us that much in isolation.

    Presuming the “aboriginal East Asians” looked more like modern-day Negritos, they must have been pushed out of East Asia to a large extent prior to the foundation of agriculture, possibly due to population flux around the last Ice Age. Hunter-gatherers would never meet farmers on a more even playing field than at the dawn of agriculture, both because the technological package would be embryonic, and the population sizes not yet overpowering. Thus you’d expect early and heavy admixture. In addition, judging by linguistic diversity alone (both in the Near East and East Asia), any “early adopters” had a chance to expand. But you don’t really see any East Asian populations with elevated “negrito” traits when compared to Siberians, barring those with obvious recent admixture in Southeast Asia, and arguably the Ainu.

    On Australia, I’ve always found it interesting that Tasmanians seemed more similar in terms of morphology (hair curliness anyway) to New Guineans than mainland Australians. When you consider the Dingo was introduced some time between 3,000 and 12,000 years ago, and Pama–Nyungan might have an origin as recently as 5,000 years ago, it suggests there was at minimum some contact with Asia, along with a rapid cultural expansion. At its broadest, it could indeed suggest a huge demographic turnover (or at least, admixture) on much of the continent.

  • Sandgroper

    Limited trade contact with Asia and the Torres Strait islands was a certainty.

    If there was demographic turnover, I would have expected to see introduction of the bow and arrow. The absence of that and agriculture suggests strong cultural resistance, not demographic turnover.

  • Madalene Reposa

    Another downside of Disqus is its vulnerability of abuse.


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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


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