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Thread: Effect of Neolithic Farmers on modern European population?

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    Thumbs up Effect of Neolithic Farmers on modern European population?

    Hello, first post virgin here, so here goes with a controversial post!

    Let me preface this by admitting I am a layman in terms of understanding population genetics and all my knowledge come from skimming articles, forums, and studies. There has been one piece of contention that has been bothering me for years though ever since I learned of it as a teenager in 2008: separating Europeans into two blocks, Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers. Now new studies are showing it was three main groups the Paleos, Farmers, and the IE Yamanaya (sp). So would this mean all European descendants today are the accumulation of these three groups to varying degrees? (i.e. Basques are mostly indigenous, Greeks mostly Neolithic, and Russians Indo-Euro, everyone else in between)
    • Can Europeans still be seen as "one race/population group" with all these different historical tribes? Are we genetically similar enough/cluster together?
    • Does this mean those who have more Neolithic blood are closer to Middle Easterners because they share certain haplogroups?
    • Is there such thing as a white race or is this all a gradient? Are Europeans removed enough from the rest to be their own thing?
    • Are those with mostly Paleolithic DNA more white?


    Apologies for all the questions! These have been nagging me and I want to wrap my head around this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bosnian Boss View Post
    Hello, first post virgin here, so here goes with a controversial post!

    Let me preface this by admitting I am a layman in terms of understanding population genetics and all my knowledge come from skimming articles, forums, and studies. There has been one piece of contention that has been bothering me for years though ever since I learned of it as a teenager in 2008: separating Europeans into two blocks, Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers. Now new studies are showing it was three main groups the Paleos, Farmers, and the IE Yamanaya (sp). So would this mean all European descendants today are the accumulation of these three groups to varying degrees? (i.e. Basques are mostly indigenous, Greeks mostly Neolithic, and Russians Indo-Euro, everyone else in between)
    Without Neolithic Farmers we still would have been hunter gatherers, for better or worse.



    Can Europeans still be seen as "one race/population group" with all these different historical tribes? Are we genetically similar enough/cluster together?
    Sure, just with different proportion of Neolithic farmers and HGs genes.
    Does this mean those who have more Neolithic blood are closer to Middle Easterners because they share certain haplogroups?
    Haplogroups have little to do with it, it is only 2% of our DNA.
    Is there such thing as a white race or is this all a gradient? Are Europeans removed enough from the rest to be their own thing?
    There is white/Caucasian race, and it is a gradient depending on population or individual. Near Easterners and North Africans can be classified as whites too.
    Are those with mostly Paleolithic DNA more white?
    No, Paleolithic Europeans were not whiter than today's folks. Whitening of Europeans was a gradual and rather recent process.
    Apologies for all the questions! These have been nagging me and I want to wrap my head around this.
    We all have questions, and discovering together.
    Welcome To Eupedia Bosnian Boss.
    Last edited by LeBrok; 10-07-15 at 17:26.
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    Without Neolithic farmers we might have gone extinct if one were to take a pessimistic view, as humanity prior to that was on the verge of it more than once.

    The latest genetic studies indicate to me that if you were to divide humanity into, let's say, three "breeding groups", which seems to be the preferred designation nowadays, it might be something like "West Eurasian", "East Eurasian", and SubSaharan African. Maybe people might want to add "Amerindian" and perhaps "Australoid"? The rest would be admixtures of the above...i.e. North Africans as 3/4 West Eurasian, 1/4 SSA etc. South Asians are more problematic. I don't know, other than to Anthropologists, what it really matters. The percentage of our total genomes where we differ are infinitesimally small.

    As for how similar Europeans are, you can just take a look at any global PCA where all the world's populations are examined. The following is just one of them. The undifferentiated blob at the bottom is Europeans.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fnUVsGrwiY...erage_C1C2.png


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    Without Neolithic farmers there would be other farmers...

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    @Bosnian Boss

    There's also a question about what happened later. The move away from close cousin marriage may have churned Europeans up more than other populations making them relatively more homogenous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Without Neolithic farmers we might have gone extinct if one were to take a pessimistic view, as humanity prior to that was on the verge of it more than once.

    The latest genetic studies indicate to me that if you were to divide humanity into, let's say, three "breeding groups", which seems to be the preferred designation nowadays, it might be something like "West Eurasian", "East Eurasian", and SubSaharan African. Maybe people might want to add "Amerindian" and perhaps "Australoid"? The rest would be admixtures of the above...i.e. North Africans as 3/4 West Eurasian, 1/4 SSA etc. South Asians are more problematic. I don't know, other than to Anthropologists, what it really matters. The percentage of our total genomes where we differ are infinitesimally small.

    As for how similar Europeans are, you can just take a look at any global PCA where all the world's populations are examined. The following is just one of them. The undifferentiated blob at the bottom is Europeans.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fnUVsGrwiY...erage_C1C2.png
    We might be all Chinese farmers now with a bit of WHG and ANE admixtures, or Amerindian farmers invading Europe by now with their bronze weapons?

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    Bosnian Boss
    Early farmers played significant role for European civilization. We can imagine meeting between indigenous population I (I1, I2) carriers who were hunter gatherers and first early farmers G2a and F* carriers who arrived in Europe. An important process for Europe was transition I carriers from hunter gatherers to farmers. Successfully passing the transition I carriers together with G2a and F* carriers have built some extremely important cultures, such as Vinca culture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arvistro View Post
    Without Neolithic farmers there would be other farmers...
    Neolithic in a West Eurasian context just means farming.

    There was a Chinese Neolithic and an Amerindian Neolithic. The West Eurasian Neolithic took place where it did for very good reasons. You think it could have developed in the frozen North? In the Arabian desert? On the steppe? A certain geography, a certain climate, flora and fauna, were necessary prerequisites. That's in addition to whatever evolutionary processes had gone on biologically in the humans who developed it.


    "Why did food production first appear in the Fertile Crescent? The primary advantages of this area is that it enjoyed a Mediterranean climate of mild, wet winters, and long summers, ideal for crop production. It also possessed a number of wild ancestors of crops that were already highly productive and growing in large stands in the wild (136). A third factor behind the origin of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent was that it contained four large herbivores that fit the profile of domestication as well several plants that were suitable for domestication. “Thanks to this availability of suitable wild mammals and plants, early people of the Fertile Crescent could quickly assemble a potent and balanced biological package for intensive food production” (141-142). Other early originators had similar (though not quite so varied) biological advantage as well as physical and climatic conditions suitable for agricultural production. Because of the paucity of wild plants in the New World that were suitable for domestication, and the almost complete lack of big herbivores for meat or traction, the coming of agriculture to these areas was much delayed, and once started was much slower to develop.

    One cannot readily imagine people choosing agriculture over hunting and gathering in their cost/benefit decision making when their only available domesticates were sump-weed or squash. In such cases, agriculture would remain a supplement to the basic hunting and gathering life style for much longer periods. Diamond posits that the environment of Eurasia not only favored early domestication but also the spread of agriculture from pristine areas of origin to other societies.
    Recall that most societies do not develop agriculture on their own, but rather receive it through conquest or other cultural contact. The Eurasian continent has several advantages over Africa and the Americas in this regard. The foremost reason for the rapid spread of crops in Eurasia, according to Diamond, is that the Eurasian continent has an east-west axis—the bulk of the land mass stretches east to west rather than north to south. Similar latitudes, Diamond reasons, share the same seasonal variations, length of days, and often climate (1997, 183). Thus, plants first cultivated in one area, adapted as they are to such factors of latitude as growing season and length of day, can easily be cultivated in areas east or west of the original site."

    As to the effects of agriculture:
    "
    First, food production allows for a sedentary life-style, thus allowing for the accumulation of possessions as well as the creation of crafts. Second, intensified food production can be organized to produce a surplus, which can then be used to support a more complex division of labor as well as social stratification (285). “When the harvest has been stored, the farmers’ labor becomes available for a centralized political authority to harness—in order to build public works advertising state power (such as the Egyptian pyramids), or to build public works that could feed more mouths (such as Polynesian Hawaii’s irrigation systems or fishponds), or to undertake wars of conquest to form larger political entities” (285). Thus, societal complexity can then stimulate further intensification of food production."

    "
    In summary, because food production was far more advanced on the Eurasian continent, there was great competition, diffusion, and amalgamation among the states that evolved on this continent. These states became far larger in population, more resistant to the diseases carried by domesticates, more sophisticated in terms of technology, and more centralized politically than the tribes, chiefdoms, and early states they came into contact with in the New World, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and Australia. Thus, when worlds collided one barely survived. Though coming from a tradition based in the biological sciences and developed almost in isolation from social theory, Diamond’s work exploring the many relationships between environment, population, and production—as well as the impact of these relationships on the rest of the sociocultural system—is perfectly consistent with the principles of ecological-evolutionary theory."

    This most recent exposition is from "Germs,Guns and Steel" by Jared Diamond, but there's nothing revolutionary about it. The ideas had been kicking around for a long time. By the time I was in 9th grade it was part of standard World History curriculum.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel


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