Everard’s paternal story

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Everard’s paternal story

This forms part of my Genographic results (edited) in November 2019.

Everard’s paternal haplogroup line I-CTS616 is shared by 0.7% of all participants in the project. That is, by fewer than one in 100 participants.

This page takes us back through the stories of Everard’s distant ancestors and shows how the movements of their descendants gave rise to his lineage. We start with the marker for his oldest ancestor, and walk forward to more recent times, showing at each step the line of his ancestors who lived up to that point.

Adam: Paternal branch P305

Branch P305 graphic

Branch P305

Age: More than 100,000 years old

Location of Origin: Africa

The common direct paternal ancestor of all men alive today was born in Africa between 300,000 and 150,000 years ago. Dubbed “Y-chromosome Adam” by the popular press, he was neither the first human male nor the only man alive in his time. He was, though, the only male whose Y-chromosome lineage is still around today. All men, including Everard’s direct paternal ancestors, trace their ancestry to one of this man’s descendants. The oldest Y-chromosome lineages in existence, belonging to the A00 branch of the tree, are found only in African populations.

You may not like the things we do
Only idiots ignore the truth

— from the lyrics of Dog Eat Dog by Adam & the Ants, 1981

Around 100,000 years ago the mutation named P305 occurred in the Y chromosome of a man in Africa. This is one of the oldest known mutations that is not shared by all men. Therefore, it marks one of the early splits in the human Y-chromosome tree, which itself marks one of the earliest branching points in modern human evolution. The man who first carried this mutation lived in Africa and is the ancestor to more than 99.9% of paternal lineages today. In fact, men who do not carry this mutation are so rare that its importance in human history was discovered only in the past two years.

As P305-bearing populations migrated around the globe, they picked up additional markers on their Y chromosomes. Today, there are no known P305-bearing individuals without these additional markers.

Paternal branch M42

Age: About 80,000 Years Ago

Location of Origin: East Africa

Around 80,000 years ago, the BT branch of the Y-chromosome tree was born, defined by many genetic markers, including M42. The common ancestor of most men living today, some of this man’s descendants began the journey out of Africa to the Middle East and India. Some small groups from this line eventually reached the Americas, while other groups settled in Europe, and some remained near their ancestral homeland in Africa.

Individuals from this line whose ancestors stayed in Africa often practice cultural traditions that resemble those of the distant past. For example, they often live in traditional hunter-gatherer societies. These include the Mbuti and Biaka Pygmies of central Africa, as well as Tanzania’s Hadza.

Point of interest: The M42 branch is shared by almost all men alive today, both in Africa and around the world.

Photo from this region:

A-M91-Khoisan by Ariadne Van Zandbergen

Photograph by Ariadne Van Zandbergen, Alamy

The San, like these Botswana women, live in a hunter-gatherer society much like those of all ancient humans. They also speak Khoisan “click languages” heard few other places on Earth.


Miriam Makeba – The Click Song on YouTube

Paternal branch M168

Branch M168 graphic

Branch M168

Age: About 70,000 years ago

Location of Origin: East Africa

When humans left Africa, they migrated across the globe in a web of paths that spread out like the branches of a tree, each limb of migration identifiable by a marker in our DNA. For male lineages, the M168 branch was one of the first to leave the African homeland.

The man who gave rise to the first genetic marker in Everard’s lineage probably lived in northeast Africa in the region of the Rift Valley, perhaps in present-day Ethiopia, Kenya, or Tanzania. Scientists put the most likely date for when he lived at around 70,000 years ago. His descendants became the only lineage to survive outside of Africa, making him the common ancestor of every non-African man living today.

Everard’s nomadic ancestors followed the good weather and the animals they hunted, although the exact route they followed remains to be determined. In addition to a favorable change in climate, around this same time there was a great leap forward in modern humans’ intellectual capacity. Many scientists believe that the emergence of language gave us a huge advantage over other early humanlike species. Improved tools and weapons, the ability to plan ahead and cooperate with one another, and an increased capacity to exploit resources in ways we hadn’t been able to earlier allowed modern humans to rapidly migrate to new territories, exploit new resources, and replace other hominids such as the Neanderthals.

[‘Replace’ is not the right word… My Cro-Magnon ancestors ‘absorbed’ the Neanderthals into their own population, undoubtedly applying similar principles of selective breeding that nature applied to themselves. EC.]

Point of interest: This male branch is one of the first to leave the African homeland.

Paternal branch P143

Branch P143 graphic

Branch P143

Age: About 60,000 years old

Location of Origin: Southwest Asia

This mutation is one of the oldest thought to have occurred outside of Africa and therefore marks a pivotal moment in the evolution of modern humans. Moving along the coastline, members of this lineage were some of the earliest settlers in Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia.

But why would man have first ventured out of the familiar African hunting grounds and into unexplored lands? The first migrants likely ventured across the Bab-al Mandeb strait, a narrow body of water at the southern end of the Red Sea, crossing into the Arabian Peninsula and soon after developing mutation P143—perhaps 60,000 years ago. These beachcombers made their way rapidly to India and Southeast Asia, following the coastline in a gradual march eastward. By 50,000 years ago, they had reached Australia. These were the ancestors of some of today’s Australian Aborigines.

It is also likely that a fluctuation in climate contributed to Everard’s ancestors’ exodus out of Africa. The African ice age was characterized by drought rather than by cold. Around 50,000 years ago, though, the ice sheets of the Northern Hemisphere began to melt, introducing a short period of warmer temperatures and moister climate in Africa and the Middle East. Parts of the inhospitable Sahara briefly became habitable. As the drought-ridden desert changed to a savannah, the animals hunted by his ancestors expanded their range and began moving through the newly emerging green corridor of grasslands.

Paternal branch M89

Age: About 55,000 Years Old

Location of Origin: Southwest Asia

The next male ancestor in Everard’s ancestral lineage is the man who gave rise to M89, a marker found in 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans. This man was likely born around 55,000 years ago in Middle East.

While many of the descendants of M89 remained in the Middle East, others continued to follow the great herds of wild game through what is now modern-day Iran, then north to the Caucasus and the steppes of Central Asia. These semiarid, grass-covered plains eventually formed an ancient “superhighway” stretching from France to Korea. A smaller group continued moving north from the Middle East to Anatolia and the Balkans, trading familiar grasslands for forests and high country.

Photos from this region:

F-M89-India by Patrice Hauser

Photograph by Patrice Hauser, Getty Images

M89 marked the last major Upper Paleolithic immigration from Africa to Eurasia before climate change separated them for 20,000 years. It is present in 9 percent of India’s Dravidian language speakers.

F-M89-Sri-Lanka by Garret Clarke

Photograph by Garret Clarke, My Shot

The Vedda were Sri Lanka’s aboriginal people, hunter-gatherers with a “cult of the dead” religion. Today most Vedda have intermingled or been absorbed into Sri Lanka’s larger population.

Paternal branch M578

Branch M578 graphic

Branch M578

Age: About 50,000 Years Old

Location of Origin: Southwest Asia

After settling in Southwest Asia for several millennia, humans began to expand in various directions, including east and south around the Indian Ocean, but also north toward Anatolia and the Black and Caspian Seas. The first man to acquire mutation M578 was among those that stayed in Southwest Asia before moving on.

Fast-forwarding to about 40,000 years ago, the climate shifted once again and became colder and more arid. Drought hit Africa and the Middle East and the grasslands reverted to desert, and for the next 20,000 years, the Saharan Gateway was effectively closed. With the desert impassable, Everard’s ancestors had two options: remain in the Middle East, or move on. Retreat back to the home continent was not an option.

Paternal branch M170

Branch M170 graphic

Branch M170

Age: About 20,000 Years Ago

Location of Origin: Europe

When the last glacial maximum ended, groups containing men from this line migrated across Europe from refugia near the Balkans.

Photo from this region:

I-M170-Albania by Robert Harding

Photograph by Robert Harding, Alamy

Albania’s prehistoric past is coming to light in recent years. Excavations at Vashtëmi reveal one of the earliest known farming sites in all of Europe—circa 6,500 B.C.

Paternal branch M223

Branch M223 graphic

Branch M223

Age: 10,000 – 15,000 Years Ago

Location of Origin: Southeast Europe or Anatolia

This lineage was born in refugia as the glaciers from the Late Glacial Maximum began to retreat. Hunter-gatherers who had survived in small groups thrived as the habitable land and the amount of available game expanded. These hunters followed game and the retreating ice across Europe. With time, they moved east toward Central Asia and on to West Asia. Some from this lineage even reached South Asia, though it is less than 1 percent of the male population there.

Today, geneticists have found this lineage in moderate frequencies throughout Europe. It is 7 to 8 percent of the population in Croatia. In Denmark, it is around 7 percent of male lineages. It is 3 to 4 percent of the male population in France. It is around 1 percent of male lineages in Armenia and Turkey, and about 1 in 200 male lineages in Iran. In Central Asia, it is around 1 percent of the male population in Kazakhstan.

Heat map for M223

Heat map for M223

This next step in Everard’s journey is a map showing the frequency of his haplogroup (or the closest haplogroup in his path that we have frequency information for) in indigenous populations from around the world, providing a more detailed look at where his more recent ancestors settled in their migratory journey. What do we mean by recent? It’s difficult to say, as it could vary from a few hundred years ago to a few thousand years ago depending on how much scientists currently know about his particular haplogroup. As we test more individuals and receive more information worldwide, this information will grow and change.


My dad, a Yorkshireman, off to the war

The colors on the map represent the percentage frequency of Everard’s haplogroup in populations from different geographic regions—red indicates high concentrations, and light yellow and grey indicate low concentrations. The geographic region with the highest frequency isn’t necessarily the place where the haplogroup originated, although this is sometimes the case.

The map of M223 shows a distribution across Central and Eastern Europe, with a peak in Scandinavia. This is due to the recolonization of northern Europe at the end of last ice age, probably helped by expansions from southeastern Europe during the Neolithic Revolution.

Is Everard related to people in the areas highlighted on his map? Distantly, yes—we are all connected through our ancient ancestry.