MOTHER TONGUE
Newsletter of the Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory

Issue 26 · Spring 1996


The Parameters of Caucasoids

Alvah Hicks reports Antonio Torroni et al (incl DC Wallace), 1994. "mtDNA and the Origin of Caucasians: Identification of Ancient Caucasian-specific Haplogroups, One of Which is Prone to a Recurrent Somatic Duplication in the D-Loop Region". AM.J.HUM.GENETICS 55: 760-776. "Consequently, though human evolution is brief, a large number of mtDNA variants distinguish the major racial groups, yielding powerful genetic markers for inferring the ethnic background of human subjects. For instance, 70%-100% of the mtDNAs from sub-Saharan African populations belong to an mtDNA group defined by a HpaI site at nucleotide pair (np) 3592 .., which is found at very low frequencies outside Africa and only in Caucasian populations that historically have admixed with Africans .. Approximately 60% of Asian Mongoloid mtDNAs have an AluI site at np 10397 . . which is absent in Africans and Europeans."

"Parsimony analysis suggest that all Caucasian mtDNAs are grouped into two major lineages . . distinguished by the presence or absence of a DdeI site at np 10394. The NJ tree provides a less clear-cut subdivision of the haplotypes into these two lineages. However, it maintains the clustering of the large majority of the haplotypes lacking the 10394 DdeI site. The 10394 DdeI site is found in 26.3% of the Caucasian mtDNAs, a lower frequency than either the 66% observed in Asians . . . or the 91% observed in sub-Saharan Africans . . This polymorphism is probably very ancient, since it also subdivides Mongoloid . . . and African phylogenies into two major lineages."

"All Native American mtDNAs belong to one of only four haplogroups defined by a HaeIII site at np 663, a 9-bp deletion in the COIItRNALYS intergenic region, an AluI site at np 13262 or the absence ofan AluI site at np 5176 . . These Native American mutations and the associated haplotypes have never been observed in Africans and Caucasians but are found in northeastern Asia and Siberia, from which the ancestral Native Americans derived . ."

"Our survey revealed that 64% of European mtDNAs fell into four Haplogroups: H-K. Since these haplogroups are characterized by Caucasian-specific mutations, they probably originated after ancestral Caucasians separated from the ancestors of modern Asians and Africans. Hence the ages of these haplogroups could provide lower and upper limits to the age of modern Europeans." (End of Torroni et al). [Note: All references are deleted. See the source.]


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