BAMAD no.45

 DNA and 
 Anthropology Updates 

Updates in DNA studies along with Anthropological Notes of general interest with a particular emphasis on points pertinent to the study of Ancient Israelite Ancestral Connections to Western Peoples as explained in Brit-Am studies.


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BAMAD no. 45
Brit-Am Anthropology and DNA Update
4th February 2009, 9 Shevet 5769
1. Mt[female]DNA:
Tuscans (
Northwast Italy) of Medieval Times were descended from Etruscans
but Modern Tuscans are not?
2. US Citizens of Scottish Descent Compared with Scottish
3. DNA links found between ancient Peruvians and Japanese Ainu
4. Book answers DNA critics of Book of Mormon
Shows General Limitations of DNA Studies
5.Scientists find 'cure' for 'werewolf boy'
6. Fear is contagious, say scientists
7.Racial Skin Color Can and Does Change:
Your Family May Once Have Been A Different Color

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1. Mt[female]DNA:
Tuscans (
Northwast Italy) of Medieval Times were descended from Etruscans but Modern Tuscans are not?
Recent demographic changes account for the genealogical discontinuity between Etruscan, Medieval and modern Tuscans. GUIDO BARBUJANI, SILVIA GUIMARAES, ANDREA BENAZZO, LUCIO MILANI , DAVID CARAMELLI.
The available mitochondrial DNA data appear incompatible with the view that modern Tuscans are descended from the Etruscans who inhabited the same region 2,500 years ago. To understand how and when such a genetic discontinuity may have arisen, we extracted and typed the mtDNAs of 27 medieval Tuscans from an initial sample of 61, spanning a time period between the 10th and 15th centuries A.D.. Etruscans and medieval Tuscans share four mitochondrial haplotypes, and serial coalescent simulations show a clear genealogical continuity between them. By contrast, it was impossible to fit into the same mtDNA genealogy modern inhabitants of the same area, including those (Murlo, Volterra, Casentino) who were recently claimed to be of Etruscan descent.
These data strongly suggest that the Etruscans did not get extinct when their culture disappeared with the Roman assimilation. However, they contributed little to the modern mitochondrial gene pool, probably because of extensive immigration after 1500 A.D.. No evidence of excess mutation was found in the ancient DNA by a Bayesian test, and so there is no reason to suspect that these results be biased by laboratory artefacts in the ancient sequences. Genealogical continuity between ancient and modern populations of the same area does not seem a safe general assumption, but rather a hypothesis that should and can be tested using ancient DNA analysis.

Stable isotope and mtDNA evidence for geographic origins at the site of Vagnari
(2nd- 4th centuries AD), Italy. T.L. PROWSE, T.E. VON HUNNIUS, AND J.L. BARTA.

2. US Citizens of Scottish Descent Compared with Scottish
This seems quite interesting, the frequency of J2 (12%) and G (6%) seem to be quite high in this sample compared to white Americans and Britons.

Finding the Scot in the Scottish-American: Examination of ethnic identity through the Y-chromosome. K.G. BEATY AND M.L. MEALEY.
It is estimated that over 12 million Americans claim Scottish ancestry.
To determine whether individuals self-identifed as Scottish carry Scottish genetics markers in their genes, samples were collected from 50 males at the 2006 Kansas City Highland Games. All individuals in the sample identified themselves as "Scottish.". To determine possible contribution from a paternal line, surnames where analyzed. All but 6% of the individuals have surnames that are currently found in Scotland, with most surnames having been present in the historical records the since the mid 1500?s.
Analysis of 9 short-tandem repeats on the Y-chromosome (YSTRs) identified probable Y haplogroup assignment. Individuals in this sample represented the following haplogroups:
R1b, R1a (3%), I (11%), J2 (12%), G (6%) and E3b (4%). Haplogroup R1b dominates the sample at 64%, as would be suspected of a population with origins in Western Europe.
Haplogroup frequencies are found at those similar to the current Scottish population, as well as in similar frequencies to the rest of the British Isles. All but six Y-STR haplotypes matched individuals in the current Scottish population.

3. DNA links found between ancient Peruvians and Japanese Ainu
Lima (Peru), Jan 11 : A new study has revealed genetic links between people who inhabited northern Peru more than 1,000 years ago and the Japanese.

Japanese physical anthropologist Ken-ichi Shinoda performed DNA tests on the remains of human bodies found in the East Tomb and West Tomb in the Bosque de Pomas Historical Sanctuary in Peru, which are part of the Sican Culture Archaeological Project, funded by Japan's government.

The director of the Sican National Museum, Carlos Elera, told the El Comercio newspaper that Shinoda found that people who lived more than 1,000 years ago in what today is the Lambayeque region, about 800 kilometers north of Lima, had genetic links to the contemporaneous populations of Ecuador, Colombia, Siberia, Taiwan and to the Ainu people of northern Japan.

The studies will be continued on descendents of the Mochica culture, from the same region, who are currently working on the Sican Project and with people who live in the vicinity of the Bosque de Pomac Historical Sanctuary.

According to Peruvian archaeologist Luis Chero, "Currently, the DNA results have great value because they can be understood to show that there were people who arrived in these zones from Asia and who then converted these zones into the great culture of the New World."

The results of the studies will be presented at an exhibit on the Sican culture that will be set up for a year at the Tokyo Museum of Science and Nature.

Also to be displayed at that exhibit will be gold, silver and copper jewelry found in the tombs of the ancient Sican rulers and priests.

--- ANI

4. Book answers DNA critics of Book of Mormon
Shows General Limitations of DNA Studies
By Rodger L. Hardy
Deseret News
Friday, Dec. 05, 2008

PROVO, Utah --  Brigham Young University professor Daniel C. Peterson answers DNA critics of the Book of Mormon with a new collection of articles by leading scientists who are also Latter-day Saints.

Peterson introduced "The Book of Mormon and DNA Research," Thursday at the Olivewood Book Store. The book is the first to come out of the Maxwell Institute, of which the bookstore is affiliated, in a series of collections Peterson called "the best of the best."

Authors include John M. Butler, who holds a doctorate in chemistry; D. Jeffrey Meldrum, an Idaho State University associate professor of biology; David McClellan, a BYU assistant professor of integrative biology; and others.

Critics began using DNA research several years ago to challenge the apparent Book of Mormon claim that Native Americans have Israelite roots.
And while critics thought they had brought The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to its knees because no such DNA evidence exists in modern Indians, Peterson said their claims are flawed as illustrated in the new book.

Critics called the finding a Galileo event, referring to the time in history when Galileo Galilei discovered the sun was the center of the solar system.

Peterson argues that the science the book's critics use is unsound; Internet bloggers simply say it's "common sense" that if Israelite blood isn't found in the modern descendants of Book of Mormon people then the book is a fraud.

However, the collection of scholarly writings refutes that argument, Peterson said.

An associate with whom Peterson appeared on a coast-to-coast radio show, Mike Whiting, explained it this way, Peterson said: "Galileo got his science right."

One of the articles by Butler cites a study of 131,060 Icelanders whose ancestors were known by their record. But research into their DNA couldn't prove that their ancestors existed 150 years earlier based on the Y-chromosome and the mitochondrial DNA tests.

How then could scientists expect the people in the Book of Mormon to leave a genetic imprint on their descendants, Peterson queried. The markers simply disappear over time, he said.

Not only that, but the Book of Mormon doesn't contain enough genetic data to work with. For example, the females in the Book of Mormon inherited their DNA from the wife of Ishmael, an important figure early in the Book of Mormon.

"We know nothing about her," Peterson said.

"To assume all questions about Meso-America are answered by DNA is naive," he said. "This is not a simple subject. There is a lot of naivete in this subject."

The Book of Mormon population was relatively small when those people first landed on the shores of the New World, he said. At the time millions of native peoples already were living on the continent. Through intermarriage the genetic pool could have easily and quickly become "swamped," Peterson said.

Geographically, the Book of Mormon story takes place in a small area, which also would limit the gene pool.

"This is a tempest in a teapot," Peterson said, dismissing critics' claims. "There's not much there. So what (if most of the people) came from Asia."

The Book of Mormon is in the realm of faith. It has enough evidence for those who want to believe, he said, but not enough to prove it or force others to believe.

"That's by design," Peterson said.

Genetical DNA Maps of Europe

5. Scientists find 'cure' for 'werewolf boy'

Pruthviraj Patil, 11, is one of just 50 people in the world with the rare genetic condition, called hypertrichosis.

Pruthviraj's family have tried a range of treatments - including homeopathy, traditional Indian Ayurvedic remedies and more recently laser surgery; but none has proved successful.

Now, following a worldwide appeal to doctors to help him find a permanent cure, scientists at Columbia University, in New York, believe they might have found one.

Their research was filmed as part of a US television documentary called 'My Shocking Story: Real Wolf Kids'.

It followed the lives of a number of children living in Mumbai, India, including Pruthviraj, who were suffering with hypertrichosis.

The thick matted hair that covers Pruthviraj's face has caused him to be stared at and bullied throughout his childhood, and he rarely leaves his home village in India because of the cruelty of strangers.

When Pruthviraj was born villagers told his mother she had given birth to a God. Others thought he was a supernatural creature and a bad omen because of his unique appearance.

But despite his abnormal hair growth Pruthviraj, who is from the district of Sangli, near Bombay, is healthy, sporty and popular at school.

6. Fear is contagious, say scientists

People who are scared could give off secret signals in their sweat that are subconsciously picked up by others making their fear "contagious", scientists said.

The influence of pheromones, chemicals released by the body, on human behaviour has been hotly debated by scientists for years.

But a new unpublished study, reported in New Scientist magazine, found that volunteers responded to sweat from frightened people.

Researchers at Stony Brook University in New York taped absorbent pads to the armpits of 40 volunteers about to do their first ever sky-dive.

They collected the sweat produced as the volunteers plummeted to Earth and then asked a second group of volunteers to breath the fear-soaked samples alongside some fear-free sweat.

The second group's brain activity was monitored as they smelled the samples and they displayed more activity in the brain's fear centres when they were exposed to the skydivers sweat.

The team, led by Lilianne Mujica-Parodi, told the magazine that their results "indicate that there may be a hidden biological component to human social dynamics, in which emotional stress, is quite literally, 'contagious'".

But other specialists say that the absence of any evidence that volunteers actually felt scared means that it is too early to say conclusively that pheromones influence our behaviour.

Others are concerned that studies like the New York project, which was funded by the US military's research arm, could be used to develop "fear pheromones" for military use.

Simon Wesseley, psychiatrist at King's College London, told the magazine that studies in the 1960s had shown that injecting people with adrenaline did not make them fearful until the situation became threatening. He said: "You can generate the physical symptoms of fear but people don't necessarily get scared."

7.Racial Skin Color Can and Does Change:
Your Family May Once Have Been A Different Color
In high doses, ultraviolet light can damage skin and DNA molecules, but the body does need some UV light to help us produce vitamin D. Our bodies use melanin to regulate how much UV light our skin lets in.

Because women build babies in their wombs, they need more vitamin D to produce extra calcium for the baby's bones. Could that explain this difference: When scientists look at the underarm skin of men and women in every color group of humans, the women on average are always lighter than the men. Are the ladies lighter to produce a little extra Vitamin D for the babies?

Morning Edition, February 2, 2009
To begin, please point your elbow to the ceiling.

Then look at the patch of skin on the inside of your upper arm, the part of you that almost never sees the sun.

Whatever color you see there is what experts call your basic skin color, according to professor Nina Jablonski, head of the Penn State Department of Anthropology.

And that color, the one you have now, says Jablonski, is very probably not the color your ancient ancestors had, even if you think your family has been the same color for a long, long time.

Skin has changed color in human lineages much faster than scientists had previously supposed, even without intermarriage, Jablonski says. Recent developments in comparative genomics allow scientists to sample the DNA in modern humans.

By creating genetic "clocks," scientists can make fairly careful guesses about when particular groups became the color they are today. And with the help of paleontologists and anthropologists, scientists can go further: They can wind the clock back and see what colors these populations were going back tens of thousands of years, says Jablonski.

She says that for many families on the planet, if we look back only 100 or 200 generations (that's as few as 2,500 years), "almost all of us were in a different place and we had a different color."

"People living now in southern parts of India [and Sri Lanka] are extremely darkly pigmented," Jablonski says. But their great, great ancestors lived much farther north, and when they migrated south, their pigmentation redarkened.

"There has probably been a redarkening of several groups of humans."

Why We Change Color

The repigmenting process is increasingly well understood.

"Humans started in Africa," Jablonski says, the part of Africa near the equator where it is intensely sunny with lots of ultraviolet light.

Ultraviolet light, or UV, in high doses can age the skin and damage the DNA molecule, which makes it harder to build a fetus. Not to mention that ultraviolet light can sometimes cause skin cancer.

On the other hand, if a human is plopped down in, say, Norway, where the days can be short and there is precious little ultraviolet light, this creates problems, too. All vertebrate animals need ultraviolet light to help produce vitamin D. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food to build strong bones. If we don't get enough ultraviolet light, we're less likely to survive to reproductive age to produce strong-boned babies.

Thus the dilemma: People who live in sunny climes around the equator have too much UV. People who move away from the equator eventually have too little UV.

Hooray For Melanin

The solution is what Jablonski calls "a really cool molecule": melanin. In different concentrations, melanin makes skin lighter or darker. Kind of like a Venetian blind, it can let UV light in or keep it out.

Melanin has evolved in many different animals. Humans have had it for a long, long time and what Jablonski and others have learned is that when early humans migrated from the equator, their melanin levels changed.

That doesn't mean they lost their tans. It means they had very specific genetic changes that allowed them to live and successfully reproduce in less sunny places.

The big surprise is how fast these changes can occur.

"Our original estimates were that [skin color changes] occurred perhaps at a more stately pace," Jablonski says. But now they're finding that a population can be one color (light or dark) and 100 generations later, with no intermarriage, be a very different color.

Figuring 25 years per generation...that's an astonishingly short interval.

It's "a blink of an eye," she says.

Jablonski is the author of Skin: A Natural History, published in 2006. These newer findings are mentioned, in a preliminary way, in that book.

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