Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Iberian R1b Y-DNA: First Movers in Europe

   The disputed origins of haplogroup R1b, most commonly thought of as Celtic, remains split between Iberia prior to the end of the last ice age and various West Asian locations after the ice age.  A new view on the R1b homeland comes out every year.  With all we know about DNA, shouldn’t we be coming to a consensus?  Typically, I refer to R1b as Celtic to help an audience make the connection between lettered haplogroups and culture or ethnicity.  I also add the caveat that Celtic is a misleading label.   R1b is supergroup of cultures including; Iberian, Gallic, Celtic, Germanic and Scandinavian.  To attribute empires or nationalities to R1b would be foolish, as R1b is tens of thousands of years older than any known empire.

   Perhaps I’m naïve.  I like simple, logical answers.  The earliest publications on R1b described their ancestor R1, entering Europe from central Asia during a warm period about 30,000 – 40,000 years ago.  The last ice age forced R1 to split and take refuge south in Iberia and the Balkans.  Time and separation gave us the mutations R1b in Iberia and R1a in the Balkans.  That split is roughly what we see today in those regions.  That’s clean and simple.  The real world is much more complex.  R1b and R1a were not alone in Europe.  Their interactions with the other major European haplogroups- E, G, I, J and N has to be taken into consideration.  We can’t analyze R1b as if it were in a vacuum.

   Let’s take y-DNA haplogroups out of the picture for a moment.  We know that modern humans survived and flourished in the Iberian refuge during the end of the last ice age, based on mitochondrial DNA studies.  [Could someone please run some y-DNA tests on those samples?]  The tribes in western Europe, whoever they were, had a 1,000 to 2,500 year head start over the tribes in central and eastern Europe on repopulating the continent.  The ice sheets melted and retreated earlier on the west coast than in the rest of Europe.  This gave the inhabitants of the Iberian refuge an advantage – a “first-mover” advantage gained by being the first to move north.  These first-movers gained a land-monopoly.  A tribe with a first-mover advantage and over a 1,000 year head start should have been hard to displace from western Europe.  In other anthropological situations, those original inhabitants are forced into niche locations by invading populations, but very rarely are displaced completely.  What we see on the west coast of Europe, is a very strong R1b presence and no niche haplogroups of a significant age.  From this point of view, either R1b is the original Iberian inhabitant or R1b completely decimated another earlier haplogroup that had a 1,000 year geographical head start.  I like simple.  R1b was in Iberia first.
   Let’s throw some data at the problem.   The R1b haplogroup population is enormous.  The majority fall into SNPs R-P312 (Celto-Iberian) and R-U106 (Celto-Germanic).  There is so much information there that it tends to be noise.  If you want to get to the root of R1b (R-M343), you need to work with the branches that are closest to the root - R-L278*, R-V88, R-M73*, R-YSC0000072/PF6426 and R-L23.

• • R1b   M343
• • • R1b1   L278
• • • • R1b1a   P297
• • • • • R1b1a1   M73
• • • • • R1b1a2   M269
• • • • • • R1b1a2a   L23
• • • • R1b1c   V88
[• • • • • • • • • R1b1a2a1a1   U106 - too far downstream]
[• • • • • • • • • R1b1a2a1a2   P312 - too far downstream]

   I collected 250 records that matched these SNPs or were genetically close by STR haplotype.  These records were mapped based on user-reported most distant ancestor location.

   This is not a connect the dot exercise.  Just because two or more records appear geographically close doesn’t mean that they are genetically close.  These 250 records have to be treated like a network.  If this were Facebook, these folks would be randomly associated through family, business, school or neighbor connections.  These are y-DNA records.  There is a relationship between every pair.  Each pair has a different common ancestor, with a different number of generations to get back to that ancestor.  Here is an example of what that relationship looks like across multiple pairs.  The number represents years back to a common ancestor (TMRCA).

When all of the interrelations are taken into consideration, the group of records can be displayed as a relationship tree of who is older or younger and who is more closely related to whom (phylogenetic tree).

   Now we have who, where, when and how the records are connected.  At this point it does become a connect the dots exercise.  I’ve used a biogeographical analysis to connect very specific sets of dots based on the calculated interrelation of the entire group.

   The R1b genetic family tree has a trunk and many branches.   The trunk of the R1b data is firmly rooted in Iberia.  The main core of the tree stretches along the western Atlantic coast of Europe and branches across Europe and even back into Asia.  The results that I found support the work of the earliest pioneers in the field and conflict with the latest publications.

   Every analysis has its limitations.  The work that I’ve done looks back at the R1b family about 8,000 years.  The scarcity of data only allowed for me to predict the origin of R-L278, which is currently one branch below the main root of R-M343.    I can’t tell where R1b was between the times that R1 split into R1b and R1a, yet.

   In my analysis, I have included R-V88.  They are a curious group of R1b found in Africa and the Middle East.  I will be treating R-V88 in a separate write-up to do justice to a very interesting back migration story.  The R-V88 article can be found here.


Maglio, MR (2014)  Biogeographical Evidence for the Iberian Origins of R1b-L278 via Haplotype Aggregation (Link)


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  2. Paternal haplogroup R1b1b2a1a Maternal hap. V both from northern Spain ( I was born in Santander). According to this it seems that we are one of those that dind'nt move much since the last Ice Age

  3. I completely agree with you...
    Iberians are link between R1B in all of western Europe...

  4. A lot of false claims in this blog post,

    R1a is not a European origin haplogroup, R1a originated in Central and Southern Asia and not Europe; it migrated to Europe in giant population waves from the Central Asian steppes. Modern White Europeans have little to nothing to do with ancient Europeans or neolithic Europeans, they are the descendants of massive migrants from the Central Asian and Siberian steppes. R1a most likely originated in Southern Asia, in the countries of modern India/Pakistan/Bangladesh/Sri Lanka because there is a heavy presence there of it unseen in other regions besides Europe in unadmixed groups of people.

    Likewise R1b is not a European origin haplogroup either, it migrated there from Western Asia, and cultural groups like "Germanic", "Celtic", "Ilberians" is completely meaningless because those are modern cultural connotations that can't apply to that time in history.

  5. I agree with you. It completely makes sense!

  6. I don't know if this is still your position but I agree with your hypothesis.
    I personally think that R1b may have originated in or around Anatolia and a wave of migrants over differing periods followed from there on. I find it interesting that some European R1b samples have been found (one dating to around 4,150 BCE - El Trocos I believe?) which would have been around the same time as the R1b Steppe people were still near the Causcaus region?

    Given what we know about the challenges of displacing wholesale populations, I find it very difficult to comprehend that from around 4200 - 2800 BCE, these people not only crossed the causcaus into central Europe but also managed to wipe out the opposition, install settlements, language, culture and establish a successful economy (supposedly wealthy, by all accounts) within the region in such a (relatively) short space of time? I accept that the hypothesis presupposes that they possessed superior (given the time) bronze age technology, but even the terrain at that time would have proved challenging to hordes of horse driven chariots full of equipment. How did they manage to install themselves seemingly so successfully within such a time-frame? They surely would have had to vastly outnumber the natives.
    It is then proposed that they conquered Western Europe between 2900 and 500 BCE - and not only that, but established a totally dominant and formidable presence (if British and Iberian Y-haplogroup samples are anything to go by) that would remain unchallenged for almost another 2000 years.
    For such a dominant R1b presence in Western Europe (seemingly unchanged by Viking and Anglo migrations), I find it very difficult to reconcile such an insurgency with the length of time proposed. Also, is there any archaeological evidence of mass slaughter that such a dominant presence would surely have necessitated?

    Finally, (just being purely speculative and admittedly amateurish here), but look at Western European faces - and look at their supposed ancestors in the Steppes. Many, many Western European features comprise long, oval faces.
    The Yamnaya features seem more atypical of modern day Causcaus faces. Look at portraits of Western Europeans spanning the last few centuries - in 600 years or so, these features do not appear to have changed that much, if at all.

    I know this is highly speculative but is it remotely plausible that the Steppe traits would have transformed so drastically as to resemble modern day Western Europeans? Especially if it is also true that the mt haplogroup equivalent of the Steppe R1b variant is reportedly as high as 30 - 40% in some areas of Western Europe? Would we not see far more similarities with the original Steppe people?

    I acknowledge that the Steppe males who tested positive for the R1b-Z2103 are distant relatives of modern day Europeans but I find it almost unfathomable that these people were able to overwhelmingly transform Europe culturally, economically and genetically within the space of less than 4000 years and also root themselves within the Iberian peninsula, whilst contributing to the development of around six distinct PIE cultures and languages in the process. Surely, such a cultural transformation occurs over thousands of years not just within two or three?

    I think it is more likely that waves of migrations from the R1b heartland occurred over the course of 8000 years or so - including maritime excursions. I believe it is possible that back-to-back migrations to and from Iberia, France and Britain may contribute to the different "variations" of R1b we see across North, South, West and Central Europe. Tacitus gave support to a "cultural exchange" theory between the Britons and the Iberians and it has also been suggested that many people in Eastern England are descendants of various different waves of Anglo invaders, not just from the main invasions that occurred after the departure of the Roman legions from Britain.

  7. R1b L-278 found in a Villabruna,Northeast Italy sample 14000 years old.Epi-Gravettian.

    1. Hi Ric, could you include your source?


    2. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v534/n7606/full/nature17993.html

  8. R* found within the Mal'ta Buret Culture near Lake Baikal in Southern Siberia +-24000 years ago.

    1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mal'ta-Buret'_culture

    2. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7481/full/nature12736.html

  9. The more ancient DNA evidence comes to light the more I think that R1b originated somewhere in and between the Pannonian Plain and the Crimea...

  10. It is interesting to note that the oldest MtDNA Haplogroup U6 was found in Romania at 36000 years ago. Today MtDNA Haplogroup U6 are spread all over the Sahara. This shows a probable migration from Romania to Africa. Could the ancestors of R1b(V88) have taken the same route to Africa much later ?
    I think the ancestors of R1b1b and R1b(V88) spread into Anatolia during the Mesolithic from the Balkans. And some of these early clads migrated as far as Kurdistan and Turkmenistan where they survived in relative isolation.R1b1a ancestors migrated towards the Crimea and did not go into Anatolia with the others.
    As far as I could read there were no R1a or R1b found in Neolithic samples of Anatolia or Iran sofar. The closest was R2 in Iran.

  11. My speculation about El Trocs is that his ancestors were pushed West from Anatolia during the early Neolithic.Or his ancestors migrated through the Green Sahara towards the West and entered Spain via Gibraltar with their cattle as some papers about Cattle DNA show...

  12. ApocalypticQueen:
    I think the answer about how Indo-Europeans managed to become dominant in Europe is partly answered by a paper about Pneumonic and Bubonic plague. I will try and find it for you.
    The other thing is the Mass Graves in Germany at Talheim and others. This shows that the Neolithic peoples became very competitive and Steppe migrants can not be blamed for all the slaughter...

    1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151022124532.htm

    2. https://www.google.co.za/amp/amp.livescience.com/51884-neolithic-massacre-mass-grave.html?client=ms-android-samsung

    3. And something else to think about:

  13. referente Haplogroup - U4 que apresenta minhas ancentrais não consigo entender como chegou a penisula iberica sendo que a minoria da população iberica possui este Haplogroup - U4.

    1. chez les basque on trouve des taux pour U5b comparable à ceux du nord-est de l'Europe et parmi les plus fort taux, c'est encore une des bizarrerie de ce peuple qui présente un ADN MtDNA atypique avec les peuples du sud de l'Europe.

  14. All that theory, which is based on haplotyping of modern, present-time inhabitants, could be wrong. In other words, what about the ANCIENT DNA RECORDS? I have the impression that in literature we have only dozens, perhaps one hundred but definitely not thousands, of published results of ancient Y DNA on which support our claims.
    For instance, how can you be sure that R1b is the oldest in Spain? I mean, do you have the evidence of ancient DNA? (I remind you that one report is NOT enough!). Or you are just speculating, like most people so far has done?
    I insist, unless you have the evidence in your hand, please make sure to clarify that you are talking about a HYPOTHESIS, which needs to be proven.
    My hypothesis is that R1b represent the barbarian germanics who invaded all Western Europe. Do I have the evidence? Nope! it is just a hypothesis, like yours who says exactly the opposite.
    But again, if my hypothesis proves wrong, fine!

    1. vous avez raison , nous devons remettre en cause et ne pas être rigide, effectivement rien ne va dans le sens de R1b plus ancien que 3500 en Espagne au contraire il est plus ancien en Europe de l'est et Allemagne/Autriche et surtout Ukraine, où on le trouve plus anciennement et avant sa subdivision entre U106/P312/DF100.


  16. la date de 40 000 ans pour R1b est une pure fantaisie, l'estimation scientifique du CNRS est aux alentour de 12000/17000 ans et probablement 14000 ans la séparation du groupe R1* et ensuite 4500 ans la naissance de P312 puis 3000 ans la séparation des branches atlantiques L21/df27, l'arrivée massive dans le sud de l'Espagne de df27 date de la reconquista (épuration ethnique et religieuse) avec les troupes du roi d'Aragon. L'arrivée de M65 (celte ibérique) serait ancienne de 3000/3500 ans avec l'age du bronze dans la péninsule ibérique, l'arrivée des tribus gauloises (basques ou Aushi) dans le centre nord de l’Espagne se produit à la fin du septième siècle avec la défaite des wisigoths.
    Pourquoi vouloir réinventer l'histoire puisque elle existe déjà.

  17. La date de 40 000 ans pour R1b est une pure fantaisie, l'estimation scientifique du CNRS est aux alentour de 12000/17000 ans et probablement 14000 ans la séparation du groupe R1 * et ensuite 4500 ans la naissance de P312 puis moins que 3000 ans la séparation Des branches atlantiques L21 / df27, l'arrivée massive dans le sud de l'Espagne de df27 date de la reconquista (épuration ethnique et religieuse) avec les troupes du roi d'Aragon. L'arrivée de M65 (celte ibérique) est une ancienne de 3000/3500 ans avec l'âge du bronze dans la péninsule ibérique, l'arrivée des tribus gauloises (basques ou Aushi) dans le centre nord de l'Espagne se produit à la Fin du septième siècle avec la défaite des wisigoths.
    Pourquoi vouloir réinventer l'histoire par elle existe déjà.