View Full Version : 30,000-year old Russian U2 sheds light on Indo-European migrations

03-01-10, 13:18
The so-called Markina Gora skeleton from Kostenki in Russia (near the Don River) was tested for mtDNA and determined to belong to haplogroup U2. This haplogroup is found at very low frequencies in southern Russia nowadays (actually its subclade U2e), but is otherwise primarily found in and around India, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and to a lower extent Iran and Xinjiang.

If people carrying hg U2 lived in Russia 30,000 years ago, it is doubtful that they already lived all over South Asia. The possibility of a South Asian hunter-gatherer travelling on foot all the way to European Russia is far-fetched. U2 is more probably a Paleolithic European subclade, like U4 and U5. Its widespread presence in the Indian subcontinent today can be explained in the same way that Y-haplogroup R1a is likewise widespread there : the Indo-European migrations.

I had a doubt, however, when I saw the facial reconstruction (http://www.kunstkamera.ru/en/temporary_exhibitions/virtual/gerasimov/09/15/) of the skeleton, which doesn't appear particularly European. But traits do change over such a long period of time, especially since modern European are ethnically mixed compared to Paleolithic people.

The little of U2 left in Europe is found almost exactly in the presumed Indo-European homeland, i.e. between the Dniester and Ural Rivers, in the Pontic-Caspian steppe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontic-Caspian_steppe) north of the Black Sea, Caucasus and Caspian Sea. If anything U2 fits better the IE homeland than R1a. U2 is not present in any representative level in Kazakhstan (and R1a is also weak there (http://www.eupedia.com/europe/origins_haplogroups_europe.shtml#R1a) compared to surrounding countries).

What bothers me with this theory is that the 4000 years since the IE migrations is a very short time to develop the numerous subclades of U2 existing today in South Asia. The U2e found in Russia today is itself a branch of U2 shared by U2c and U2d (all three have the 152 mutation as you can is on the mtDNA tree (http://www.phylotree.org/tree/subtree_U.htm)). We could imagine that the main subclades of U2 developed in the Pontic-Caspian steppes before the IE migrations, and that all of the U2 women except a few U2e ones left for South Asia en masse, without leaving any trace behind them. That would be an exceptional event in history, since there always seem to be a trail left behind when it comes to DNA. Why would other mt-haplogroups like H6, U4 or W be present both in Europe and South Asia, but U2 move completely and thoroughly to South Asia apart from a tiny fraction of U2e ? This is very perplexing.

What Y-haplogroup could the Markina Gora skeleton be ?

Naturally, it would be wrong to assume that this 30,000 year-old hunter-gatherer from Kostenki had an R1a Y-chromosome - simply because R1a did not exist yet (R* had barely appeared, but probably in Central Asia). Unfortunately his Y-DNA wasn't tested, but it's hard to conceive that he would have been anything else but IJ or I*, or an extinct haplogroup not listed in the Y-tree.

R1a people would have come a few thousands years later, maybe as R1* and replaced most of the paternal lineages in the Eurasian steppe.

I am not entirely ruling out that R1 or R1a could already have existed in the Eurasian steppe 30,000 years ago, but that would be strongly at odd with the calculations made by specialists at ISOGG and elsewhere regarding the age of R1a.


For once the BBC has a decent article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8435317.stm) on the "discovery" of U2 (they even mention the haplogroup, which is new for them), with a good summary for beginners of the technicalities of ancient DNA testing.

27-03-16, 01:33
More great stuff Maciamo! I have read the Neanderthals also used red ochre in burials... I'm a fan on Paabo's Neanderthal work too. I enjoyed the article; very interesting stuff!

27-03-16, 02:56
I had a doubt, however, when I saw the facial reconstruction (http://www.kunstkamera.ru/en/temporary_exhibitions/virtual/gerasimov/09/15/) of the skeleton, which doesn't appear particularly European. But traits do change over such a long period of time, especially since modern European are ethnically mixed compared to Paleolithic people.

Of course, one of the interesting things I remember reading is how greatly the morphology and physical features changed between ancient and modern Native Americans.


National Geographic has a very fascinating article about how hyper masculine they were in ancient times because of the harsh climate.

27-03-16, 06:04
^I'd like to know the estimated Neanderthal admixture in the Markina Gora remains (edit: found, Science article + ThirdTerm below)... looks like my brow-ridge, haha!

Thanks for the link, interesting stuff!


I had a doubt, however, when I saw thefacial reconstruction (http://www.kunstkamera.ru/en/temporary_exhibitions/virtual/gerasimov/09/15/) of the skeleton, which doesn't appear particularly European.
But traits do change over such a long period of time, especially since modern European are ethnically mixed compared to Paleolithic people.

What Y-haplogroup could the Markina Gora skeleton be ?

http://anthropogenesis.kinshipstudies.org/2014/11/ancient-kostenki-14-markina-gora-dna-a-glimpse-into-a-population-on-its-way-from-america-to-africa/ (edit: read below*... this article gets odd... the linked Science article below is better...)

As you said, that was plenty of time for the features to change... you may have seen the below since 2010, but anyway, this is neat...

"2. K14’s Y-DNA is thought-provoking. It belongs to hg C and is closely related to the C lineage detected in the Mesolithic La Brana sample from Spain (7,000 YBP). When first discovered, the Y-DNA C lineage in La Brana looked aberrant but now it’s clear that it constitutes an ancient West Eurasian lineage linking such distant geographies as Spain and central Russia and subsequently displaced from the European mtDNA pool by younger lineages. Hg C is much better preserved in contemporary East Asia, island Oceania, the Sahul and the New World. Importantly, hg C in K14 and La Brana is closely related to those C lineages in eastern Eurasia (hgs C1, C2 and C5 all carrying F3393/K29 mutation) that are not found in the Americas (only hg C3 with the defining M217 mutation is found there). Hg C is rare in modern Amerindians but this is likely an effect of relatively recent expansion of hg Q. Considering that hg C3* was discovered (http://anthropogenesis.kinshipstudies.org/2013/04/y-dna-hg-c3-in-south-america-and-putative-ancient-transpacific-contacts/) in South America and C3b is found at low frequencies across North America (peaking in Na-Dene), it’s likely that hg Q formed a wedge that minimized a once more prevalent Amerindian haplogroup. (At the same time, hg C3 found in northeast Asia could not have been a source of Amerindian C3 because much more common East Asian hgs N and O did not make it to America. This suggests that northeast Asian C3 is likely a product of a spillover from the Americas at the end of the Ice Age caused by an expansion of Y-DNA Q-bearing populations within the Americas. This means that 12,000 years ago East Eurasians only had hgs C1, C2, C4 and C5 forming a single clade opposed to America-specific hg C3.)"

*The article took a bizarre turn if you didn't take the title literally, like me... It goes on to suggest Africa (not just Northern) was populated from Eurasia by "moderns," (and unless I can't read it says they came from America!) which seems to fall flat on the basis of a lack of Neanderthal admixture in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, not to mention other evidence, but regardless other sources seem to confirm the haplogroup info. (i.e. http://dna-explained.com/2014/11/12/kostenki14-a-new-ancient-siberian-dna-sample/ "his Y haplogroup is C-M130, the same as LaBrana, a late Mesolithic hunter-gatherer found in northern Spain. Haplogroup C is, of course, one of the base haplogroups (http://dna-explained.com/2013/10/25/ancestor-of-native-americans-in-asia-was-30-western-eurasian/)for the Native people of the Americas."(Also has a map of genetic matches that totally contradicts the other article's odd "into Africa" theory... Was the anthropogenesis (http://anthropogenesis.kinshipstudies.org/2014/11/ancient-kostenki-14-markina-gora-dna-a-glimpse-into-a-population-on-its-way-from-america-to-africa/) article an April Fool's joke? Am I missing something?)...It quotes parts of, and cites this Science article... also referenced by the dna-explained link http://www2.zoo.cam.ac.uk/manica/ms/2014_Seguin_Orlando_et_al_Science.pdf but neither seem to propose this "theory")

edit 2: ...and if you need a laugh in the wake of a heavy week, enjoy this... "Neanderthal Haplogroup R.... haha... think maybe there was some contamination?: https://www.reddit.com/r/genetics/comments/2gt9d2/denisova_cave_neanderthal_was_ydna_haplogroup_r/

27-03-16, 07:25
The Neanderthal contribution to K14 is estimated to be 2.4 ± 0.4%, which is not significantly different from modern Eurasians. Haplogroup C-M130 was also identified as K14's Y-DNA haplogroup, the same as in La Braña, a late Mesolithic hunter-gatherer (MHG) from northern Spain. Haplogroup C6 is the European branch of this Asian haplogroup that was once common among European hunter-gatherers.

Finally, we estimated levels of Neandertal ancestry in K14 using f4-ratio statistics (38). Our estimates are consistent with previous analyses (34) showing a Neandertal contribution lower than 2% for most individuals (Fig. 4A). However, both La Braña and K14 show slightly elevated levels, with an estimated 2.4 ± 0.4% in K14 (tables S15 and S16). Restricting this analysis to genomic regions without evidence for Neandertal introgressed haplotypes in contemporary humans (38, 39) results in 0% estimated ancestry for most individuals except K14, where 0.9 ± 0.4% Neandertal ancestry is still detected (tables S17 and S18).

27-03-16, 07:40
^Thanks! I had just read that in the article I posted above: http://www2.zoo.cam.ac.uk/manica/ms/2014_Seguin_Orlando_et_al_Science.pdf

I'm 3.1%! lol... Can't hold a candle to those Tuscans though!

30-07-20, 14:44
The Rakhigarhi woman of Indus valley civilization, whose paper was published last year(Shinde et al), had mtDNA hg U2. So, this mtDNA hg existed in South Asia even way before the arrival of Steppe pastoralists. U2a is the most common west eurasian mtDNA hg there.