Nearly all Europeans descended from just 10 people

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The Independent Online

Almost every European man is descended from one of just 10 male ancestors who lived thousands of years ago. The revelation, in a study investigating the relationship of present-day Europeans, deals a terminal blow to any idea that national differences in Europe have a genetic basis.

Almost every European man is descended from one of just 10 male ancestors who lived thousands of years ago. The revelation, in a study investigating the relationship of present-day Europeans, deals a terminal blow to any idea that national differences in Europe have a genetic basis.

The study involved a detailed analysis of the mutations on the male Y chromo- some of 1,007 men. It concluded that the ancestry of 95 per cent of the men could be traced back to 10 distinct lineages.

The research, in the journal Science, also sheds light on one of the greatest mysteries of European pre-history - whether the neolithic farmers who migrated from the Middle East less than 10,000 years ago replaced or inter-married with the hunter-gathering palaeolithic community that was already well-established in Europe.

More than 80 per cent ofpresent-day European men have inherited their Y chromosomes from palaeolithic ancestors who lived between 25,000 and 40,000 years ago. The rest have inherited their Y chromosome from more recent neolithic farmers who must have integrated with the host community of huntergatherers during their movement from the East.

Colin Renfrew, a distinguished archaeologist at Cambridge University, said the findings revealed the importance of modern genetics in understanding one of the events shaping the course of human history. "The consequences of the [agricultural] transition were fundamental - village settlements, new beliefs, different social structure," said Professor Renfrew. "A behavioural revolution took place."

The study was done by geneticists and archaeologists.

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