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View Full Version : Mitrochondrial Dna Variation In Vikings



Angela
09-12-14, 21:50
This is the link to the paper:
http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/370/1660/20130384

Here's the abstract:

The medieval Norsemen or Vikings had an important biological and cultural impact on many parts of Europe through raids, colonization and trade, from about AD 793 to 1066. To help understand the genetic affinities of the ancient Norsemen, and their genetic contribution to the gene pool of other Europeans, we analysed DNA markers in Late Iron Age skeletal remains from Norway. DNA was extracted from 80 individuals, and mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms were detected by next-generation sequencing. The sequences of 45 ancient Norwegians were verified as genuine through the identification of damage patterns characteristic of ancient DNA. The ancient Norwegians were genetically similar to previously analysed ancient Icelanders, and to present-day Shetland and Orkney Islanders, Norwegians, Swedes, Scots, English, German and French. The Viking Age population had higher frequencies of K*, U*, V* and I* haplogroups than their modern counterparts, but a lower proportion of T* and H* haplogroups. Three individuals carried haplotypes that are rare in Norway today (U5b1b1, Hg A* and an uncommon variant of H*). Our combined analyses indicate that Norse women were important agents in the overseas expansion and settlement of the Vikings, and that women from the Orkneys and Western Isles contributed to the colonization of Iceland.

It seems like an interesting paper, but the resolution isn't that detailed.

Also, I'd be interested to hear the opinions of others, but it seems to me they're rather overstating what the data actually shows. Yes, the Vikings seem to have brought their women with them, but the numbers apparently differed depending on the area and it's distance from home base. There was far less migration of Viking women to Iceland than to Shetland, for example. There doesn't seem to be much of an influence in France.

Also, wouldn't the fact that there isn't a very detailed break down of the mtDna indicate that it might be wiser not to make such broad claims?

Apparently, as prior papers have found, minor lineages can be lost in small populations subject to bottlenecks.

I think it also goes some way to explaining the lack of heterogeneity in this area. I had no idea that the population was so small at relatively late periods of history, and that it was subject to quite so many bottlenecks.

Aberdeen
09-12-14, 22:28
I suspect that if the authors of the paper wanted their paper to be noticed, making their main conclusion that Viking women were important agents of overseas expansion and settlement (without adding detailed qualifiers) would get them more attention than concluding that minor mtDNA lineages can be lost in small populations subject to bottlenecks.