There goes the neighborhood. A study has suggested that Spanish males were completely wiped out by the arrival of a new culture during the Bronze Age.
As reported by New Scientist, and presented at the New Scientist Live event in London last weekend, researchers have been studying the DNA of people that lived in Europe and Asia several thousand years ago.
The latest results, presented by David Reich of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, concern the arrival of a group of people in Europe known as the Yamnaya. With the newly invented wheel and domesticated horses, they were able to expand like few others.
“These people spread over a vast territory from Mongolia to Hungary and into Europe, and are the single primary most important contributors to Europeans today,” said Reich.
About 4,500 years ago they arrived in Britain, replacing 90 percent of the gene pool, possibly as a result of the diseases they brought and climate change. But on the Iberian Peninsula, something more dramatic took place.
It appears there was some sort of “violent conquest”, notes New Scientist, where local males were either killed or enslaved and the females claimed by the Yamnaya. This is evidenced by a “complete Y-chromosome replacement,” according to Reich. In other words, Spanish men disappeared completely from the gene pool.
Other research has also highlighted the dramatic shifts in population as a result of the Yamnaya arriving. It’s thought that they replaced half of Europe’s genetic ancestry within a few hundred years, with a study last year suggesting 10 men for every one woman migrated into Europe as part of the group – an “extreme” ratio.
The Yamnaya were also likely responsible for the spread of Indo-European languages in Western Europe, which explains why they’re spoken so far from Asia. Much of their practices are thought to have been ingrained into European culture, too.
While we’ve known for a while the impact the Yamnaya had on Europe, this latest research from Reich and his colleagues highlights just how large that change was. And for the men of Spain, it was a change that saw them completely wiped off the map.
[H/T: New Scientist]