*** Well, they did come from the Cradle of Civilization so this should not be a surprise. No, it does not mean you will be subject to extra security screening. :) MS ***
TORONTO (CBC) - Most men in Europe are descendants of the first farmers who migrated from the Middle East 10,000 years ago, say researchers examining the lineage of the Y chromosome.
The researchers say their work also supports the idea that farmers spread agriculture by migrating from the Fertile Crescent into hunter-gatherer populations in Europe.
Researchers at the University of Leicester in England examined the frequency of a certain common lineage of the Y chromosome, called haplogroup R1b1b2, carried by about 110 million European men.
The Y chromosome, responsible for creating males, is passed from fathers to their sons. Men carry one X chromosome and one Y; women have two Xs.
The researchers used databases of DNA gathered from men all over Europe, from Ireland to Turkey, and determined how frequently the lineage occurred in different parts of the Continent.
"We looked at how the lineage is distributed, how diverse it is in different parts of Europe, and how old it is," said Mark Jobling, who led the research.
They found that the lineage is least common in the Middle East and most common in northwest Europe.
"It follows a gradient from southeast to northwest, reaching almost 100 per cent frequency in Ireland," said Jobling, in a statement.
The scientists said their result suggests that the lineage spread along with farming from the Middle East into Europe.
A competing theory for the origin of agriculture in Europe suggests that the knowledge and technologies of farming spread from farmers in the Mideast into hunter-gatherer populations.
Patricia Balaresque, a co-author of the study, said their result suggests that more than 80 per cent of European Y chromosomes descend from Mideast farmers.
Balaresque said other research on mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from mothers to their children, suggest that most maternal lineages in Europe seem to come from hunter-gatherers.
"To us, this suggests a reproductive advantage for farming males over indigenous hunter-gatherer males during the switch from hunting and gathering, to farming maybe, back then, it was just sexier to be a farmer," said Balaresque.