Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chinese descendants of one man

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | 1.5m Chinese 'descendants of one man': "Research into an unusually high prevalence of a particular set of genes in China has suggested that 1.5 million Chinese men are direct descendants of Giocangga, the grandfather of the founder of the Qing dynasty.

Giocangga's extraordinary number of descendants, concentrated mainly in north-east China and Mongolia, are thought to be a result of the many wives and concubines his offspring took.

Dr Chris Tyler-Smith, a geneticist working at Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, made the finding, based on a study of a set of genes on the male Y chromosome.

He told the BBC World Service's Science In Action programme that these genes provided a 'genetic surname' of the family to which each man belonged.

'What we did was analyse around 1,000 men from that part of the world,' he said.

'We noticed just two types of Y chromosome that were extraordinarily frequent - one of them making up around 3% of our sample.

'When we looked at it more carefully, we found that it was not present in the majority population in that area, the Han. But in the minorities, including the Mongolians, it was present at around 5%.

At the time of Giocangga, the population of China was about 100 million - compared with 1.3 billion today.

This means that the average Chinese man at the time of Giocangga would only have around 20 descendants living today - in marked contrast to Giocangga's 1.5 million men.

"The difference is accounted for by the large number of wives and concubines - and in particular, this practice being linked to the Y chromosome for many generations," Dr Tyler-Smith added
my thanks to Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter


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