Monthly Archives: November 2012

Ice and "complex organic materials" on Mercury’s poles

This is one of those perplexing astronomical news that make history and I can’t but mention. US scientists have found, with the help of scout satellite MESSENGER,  that not just suspected Mercury’s polar water ice (in shadowed craters) is indeed that but also that confusing dark regions around it are complex organic materials, possibly darkened by the intense solar radiation that bathes the small inner planet. 

The team found that the probe’s reflectance measurements, taken via laser altimetry, matched up well with previously mapped radar-bright regions in Mercury’s high northern latitudes. Two craters in particular were bright, both in radar and at laser wavelengths, indicating the possible presence of reflective ice. However, just south of these craters, others appeared dark with laser altimetry, but bright in radar.

This confused scientists for a while but eventually they realized that the puzzling regions actually hold water ice at a meter’s depth into the soil, where the heat of the sun can’t reach so easily. 
Radar-reflectant regions (ice) show in yellow
The most interesting part however is that the astronomers are almost certain now that the dark material must be complex organic matter, darkened by the extreme solar radiation.
Is there life in Mercury? 
Source: Science Daily.
Ref studies: 
  1. David A. Paige, Matthew A. Siegler, John K. Harmon, Gregory A. Neumann, Erwan M. Mazarico, David E. Smith, Maria T. Zuber, Ellen Harju, Mona L. Delitsky, and Sean C. Solomon. Thermal Stability of Volatiles in the North Polar Region of Mercury. Science, 29 November 2012 DOI: 10.1126/science.1231106
  2. Gregory A. Neumann, John F. Cavanaugh, Xiaoli Sun, Erwan M. Mazarico, David E. Smith, Maria T. Zuber, Dandan Mao, David A. Paige, Sean C. Solomon, Carolyn M. Ernst, and Olivier S. Barnouin. Bright and Dark Polar Deposits on Mercury: Evidence for Surface Volatiles. Science, 29 November 2012 DOI: 10.1126/science.1229764

Posted by on November 30, 2012 in astronomy, biology, chemistry, science, Solar System


Asturian internal genetic barriers for both uniparental markers (revised)

¡Bumped because of correction and updates that markedly change the original!

Formal correction (Nov 29):

All what I said about not testing for G2a seems incorrect because one individual with this lineage was reported in the Oviedo district. This leaves 21 F(xG2a,K) individuals (15 of them from the Avilés district, making 20% of the local gene pool) in the mystery zone. They could still be other G subclades (but rare in Iberia or elsewhere in Europe), H (but normally thought as restricted to Roma People in Europe) or F* (F-other). 

Some rare F clades have been reported in Europe before but never in such large numbers, I believe. Sadly the authors mention for comparison old (2004-06) studies of the Caucasus, etc. which appear not to have tested for G, leading me to think (with the help of awfully presented, or rather hidden, raw data) that they had not tested for G2a. 

The seem to have done it after all. Thanks for noticing to Jean.

Follows original entry and update (bottom) with haplogroup frequencies (based on the work of Jean Lohizun, who sorted up the raw lists into something you can at least count).

_____________________________ . . . _____________________________

Original entry (Nov 28):

This new paper on the genetics of Asturias (Iberia) seems to be of limited interest because the authors only appear interested in statistical inference, instead of properly reporting basic data as primary social service of their publicly paid research effort. They also seem dead set into not testing for well known Iberian lineages like Y-DNA G2a (or even G, never mind discerning subclades of E) something that was already obvious in their previous attempt with mtDNA, and seem oblivious to some of the most important work on the population (haploid) genetics of the Iberian Peninsula such as Adams 2008.

Still it may be of interest for data miners but be warned that all the haplogroup data is only available as long unsorted PDF lists in the supplemental material (mtDNA list download, Y-DNA list download).

Antonio F. Pardiñas et al., Assessing the Genetic Influence of Ancient Sociopolitical Structure: Micro-differentiation Patterns in the Population of Asturias (Northern Spain). PLoS ONE 2012. Open access → LINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050206]
Maybe the only highlight of the study is that the authors infer some genetic barriers within Asturias, especially segregated seem to be the coastal district of Avilés (3) and the mountain miner districts so-called Southern Oviedo and Caudal (5, 9), also including the Narcea (2) district for matrilineages (mtDNA). Meanwhile the largely Galician-speaking Eastern district of Eo-Navia (1) appears segregated only for patrilineages (Y-DNA). 

Figure 2. Map of Asturias showing the SAMOVA group division coupled with the inferred barriers to gene flow.
show results for the mtDNA data (A) and NRY data (B). Thin lines
indicate division in the SAMOVA analysis but no actual barrier
inference, while inferred barriers between groups are shown by strong
. Bootstrap value for each of the barriers is shown next to it and
only those with values equal or higher than 70 are shown.

The authors find hard to understand the genetic distinctiveness of Avilés district and talk wildly about “basal F” (probably G2a but why did not you test for that?!) Haplogroup G is relatively rare in Asturias but common for example in Portugal or Ibiza, being surely an indicator of Neolithic-derived settlement (found in ancient DNA from Occitan and Catalan Cardium Pottery sites and is also the lineage of the famous Alpine mummy Ötzi, probably also of Cardial ancestry). However, as you may know, no Cardium pottery is known so far to the North or West, so it may indicate a post-Neolithic resettlement of some sort. 
The paper also provides some PC analysis in relation to Europe but fails to explain properly which are each of the various Asturian “groups” (which seem to correspond to clusters by thin lines in the map above – maybe digging in the supp. material… but worth it?)

Figure 3. PCA plot of mtDNA haplogroups of Asturias and other regions of Iberia, the British Isles and Mainland Europe.

Figure 4. PCA plot of NRY haplogroups of Asturias and other regions of Iberia, the British Isles and Mainland Europe.

En fin: a confusing paper that could have been much better or at least user-friendly with some little extra effort and better focus. Still worth mentioning, I guess. 
See also: Asturian mtDNA (on a previous paper by the same team) and category: Iberia
 ______________________ … ______________________

Update (Nov 29): haplogroup count

Based on lists made by Jean Lohizun.


  • E: 22
  • F*: 21
  • G2a: 1
  • I: 5
  • J: 12
  • K*: 9
  • R*: 8
  • R1b1a2: 106

Mitochondrial DNA:

  • HV*: 2
    • HV0*: 9
      • V: 5
    • (within HV4):
      • HV4a*: 5 
        • HV4a1a: 3
      • HV4b: 2
    • HV6: 1
    • HV12b: 13
    • H*: 12
      • H1*: 1
        • H1a*: 1
          • H1a3: 4
        • H1b: 1
        • H1c*: 6
          • H1c3: 3
        • H1f: 2
        • H1h: 4
        • H1j: 3
        • H1x: 1
      • H2a2*: 50
        • H2a2b: 4
          • H2a2b1: 9
        • H2a5b: 1
      • (within H3d):
        • H3d: 6
        • H3f: 6
        • H3g: 12
        • H3h: 3
      • H5: 13
      • H6*: 10
        • H6a1a1a: 1
      • H7a1: 1
      • H9a: 1
      • H10a1: 4
      • H15: 3
      • H20: 1
  • JT*: 1
    • (within J):
      • J1*: 1
        • J1b1a1: 7
        • J1c*: 4
          • J1c1: 5
          • J1c2: 12
      • (within J2):
        • J2a1a: 1
        • J2a2: 1
        • J2b1a: 5
    • T*: 3
      • T1: 1
        • T1a: 9
          • T1a2a: 1
      • T2*: 2
        • T2b*: 16
          • T2b3*: 2
            • T2b3a: 1
        • T2c*: 2
          • T2c1b: 1
        • T2e*: 2
          • T2e1: 4
  • (within U):
    • U1a2: 1
    • U4*: 2
      • U4a1*:2
        • U4a1d: 3
      • U4a3: 1
      • U4b3: 1
    • (within U5):
      • U5a1*: 4
        • U5a1a1: 1
        • U5a1b1*: 1
          • U5a1b1e: 1
      • U5a2: 2 
      • U5b*: 1
        • U5b1b1*: 1
          • U5b1b1e: 1
        • U5b1d: 5
        • U5b1f: 2
        • U5b1g: 1
        • U5b2a1a: 1
        • U5b2a1b: 1
    • U6*: 2
      • U6a:1
    • (within U8):
      • U8a: 1
      • K*: 1
        • K1*: 1
          • K1a*: 2
            • K1a1: 1
            • K1a3a: 3
            • K1a4c: 6
            • K1b1a2: 2
        • K2*: 1
          • K2a: 1
  • R9*: 1
    • R9b2: 1
  • (within N1):
    • I*: 1
      • I1a1: 1
      • I2a: 1
    • N1b: 1
    • N1e’l*: 1
  • W*: 1
    • W1: 1
  • (within X2):
    • X2b: 1
    • X2d: 1
  • (within M):
    • D4k: 1
    • M1*: 1
      • M1b1a: 1
  • (within L3(xM,N)):
    • L3f1b4a: 5
    • L3x: 1
  • L2a: 1
  • L1b: 1
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Iberia, mtDNA, population genetics, Y-DNA


Roma orignis and the Y-DNA haplogroup H1a1a-M82

The origins of the Roma people of Europe and West Asia are better understood each day.

Niraj Rai et al., The Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup H1a1a-M82 Reveals the Likely Indian Origin of the European Romani Populations. PLoS ONE 2012. Open accessLINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048477]


Linguistic and genetic studies on Roma populations inhabited in Europe
have unequivocally traced these populations to the Indian subcontinent.
However, the exact parental population group and time of the
out-of-India dispersal have remained disputed. In the absence of
archaeological records and with only scanty historical documentation of
the Roma, comparative linguistic studies were the first to identify
their Indian origin. Recently, molecular studies on the basis of
disease-causing mutations and haploid DNA markers (i.e. mtDNA and
Y-chromosome) supported the linguistic view. The presence of
Indian-specific Y-chromosome haplogroup H1a1a-M82 and mtDNA haplogroups
M5a1, M18 and M35b among Roma has corroborated that their South Asian
origins and later admixture with Near Eastern and European populations.
However, previous studies have left unanswered questions about the exact
parental population groups in South Asia. Here we present a detailed
phylogeographical study of Y-chromosomal haplogroup H1a1a-M82 in a data
set of more than 10,000 global samples to discern a more precise
ancestral source of European Romani populations. The phylogeographical
patterns and diversity estimates indicate an early origin of this
haplogroup in the Indian subcontinent and its further expansion to other
regions. Tellingly, the short tandem repeat (STR) based network of
H1a1a-M82 lineages displayed the closest connection of Romani haplotypes
with the traditional scheduled caste and scheduled tribe population
groups of northwestern India.
Figure 1. The most parsimonious route of
prehistoric expansion of Y-chromosomal haplogroup H1a1a-M82 and the
recent out-of -India migration of European Roma ancestors.
Figure 2. Phylogenetic network relating Y-STR haplotypes within haplogroup H1a1a -M82.

I don’t feel I can say much more. Just, as usual, to insist in taking the proposed age estimates with caution.


Posted by on November 29, 2012 in European history, Roma people, South Asia, Y-DNA


Epipaleolithic Sicilian had mtDNA haplogroup HV1

Besides sequencing this individual’s ancient DNA, the study focuses on discerning the earliest stable occupation of the island and the diet of its inhabitants.
Marcellino A. Manino et al., Origin and Diet of the Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers on the Mediterranean Island of Favignana (Ègadi Islands, Sicily). PLoS ONE 2012. Open access ··> LINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049802]
The authors argue that this occupation of Sicily could be the oldest stable one and that it happened because of the formation of a land bridge because of low sea levels soon after the Last Glacial Maximum (but actual bathymetries hardly support such land bridge, so soon after the LGM they needed boats again to cross the dangerous Strait of Messina). However some Aurignacian artifacts are known and believed to be of older chronology. 
They also argue that, based on the N/C isotopic ratios, these peoples had a mostly carnivore land-based diet. This leaves me quite perplex because the Nitrogen-15 values are much higher than those of foxes (a mostly carnivore animal) and that is usually considered a signature of feeding off sea mammals. 

Figure 3. Carbon and nitrogen isotope composition of bone collagen from Mesolithic humans and fauna of Grotta d’Oriente.

See also: Magdalenians did eat sea mammals (at my old discontinued blog Leherensuge).


Y-DNA survey of Tamil Nadu

Fig. 1 – Sampling sites
Warning (Dec 1): table 2 was so messed up that I had to postpone most of the commentary on this important paper. Please disregard this entry and head to the new, much more extensive and correct version HERE.

Always welcome to find more about the genetics of India, surely one of the key geographical nodes of prehistoric human expansion (and, of course, a huge region with interest of its own right).

Ganesh Prasad Arun Kumar et al., Population Differentiation of Southern Indian Male Lineages Correlates with Agricultural Expansions Predating the Caste System. PLoS ONE 2012. Open accessLINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050269]
The authors took special interest into sampling tribes, some of which are still foragers and a reference for all kind of anthropological research of South Asia, all Eurasia and even beyond. They also sorted the various populations into groups or classes based on socio-economic reality (and language in some cases) rather than the, arguably overrated, varna (caste) system. See table 1 for details.
The bulk of the data is in table 2, an edited and annotated version of which I include here (two columns, R2 and SD, were transposed in the original, I resized for optimal visualization and annotated wildly to highlight most important clades, etc. – that’s how I read papers, rather than paying too much attention to the wording or beliving blindly all what geneticists say on age estimates and other educated hunches):

Annotated and corrected version of table 2 (click to view in optimal size).

As I’m not totally sure that the tabulation (even after correction) is right, I’m going to withhold judgment. Hopefully it’ll be corrected soon and we can analyze the data properly.

Update (Nov 30): I wrote to the authors on the issue and got prompt reply. Apparently the shifted column is that of J2-M172 and not R2 as I thought first, but instead of a simple swap all columns since J2a1 shifted one place to the left (so  all that K* is actually L1, all that R* is actually R1a1, etc.)

I am very interested on what this paper seems to have found and therefore I will wait a bit for the formal correction (which is apparently in wait for PLoS ONE editors to perform only) and write on the matter anew. Because, if nothing else, the high levels of F* and C among hunter-gatherer tribals seem very important.


Ivory worked in Andalusia 4800 years ago was from West Asia

The revolutionary ivory hoard
It has been reported today that workshops in the Chalcolithic (and Megalithic) site of Valencina de la Concepción (near Seville, Andalusia) used ivory imported from West Asia, belonging to tusks of the extinct Syrian (or also Assyrian) elephant (the westernmost variant of the Asian elephant, Elephas maximus). 
Until today it was generally believed (by default) that the ivory used in Chalcolithic crafting was from North Africa, however the (also extinct) North African elephant was a variant of the African species Loxodonta africana. 
While trade with Northern Europe (amber) was acknowledged as a matter of fact but was strongly supported by cultural elements (Megalithism), as well as by the unmistakably Nordic amber which washes to the beaches of the Baltic and German Sea, trade and cultural connections with the Eastern Mediterranean were considered speculative at best.
This discovery, which traces the first (indirect?) trade with West Asia to some 4800 years ago appears to demolish almost single-handedly the usual notions about Western European Chalcolithic (c. 3000-1800 BCE) by which contacts with the Eastern Mediterranean were considered speculative or even unlikely. There seems to be a glass bead in Eastern Iberia but nothing else that could support consistently contacts with anywhere East of Italy or Lybia. Only nearing the Bronze Age (which may begin c. 1850 BCE in the most developed parts of Iberia) such connections could be taken for granted (and yet mostly because of cultural rather than material imports). 
However the late Megalithic burial types of the Chalcolithic (tholos, artificial caves, etc.) which partly replace the classical dolmen in the areas we could well call more civilized (parts of Southern Iberia and Languedoc), has been argued in the past to be conceptual imports from the Eastern Mediterranean (places like Kurdistan and Cyprus, where tholoi were used first for housing apparently). But a time gap of a whole millennium (or more) made it all a bit hard to accept and the competing theory of the architectural concept of false dome (tholos) being invented twice became rather mainstream. 
The finding has been reported in the Acts of the Congress on Ivory and Elephants, which took place in Alicante and it’s also said to be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science (but I can’t find it so it may well be awaiting publication). The research has been carried by academics from the University of Huelva, the German Archaeological Institute and the Valencina Museum. 

Ethiopian haploid genetics

Ethio Helix mentioned yesterday a doctoral thesis on Ethiopian haploid DNA:
Christopher Andrew Plaster, Variation in Y chromosome, mitochondrial DNA and labels of identity within Ethiopia. The Center of Genetic Anthropology, University College of London, 2012 (doctoral thesis) ··> LINK (PDF).
The study deals with the anthropology, ethnology and linguistics of the African state, and especially with the haploid genetics (although more in detail with the Y-DNA side of the matter than with mtDNA). It is very much worth reading for anyone interested on the anthropology and population genetics of Africa and in particular the Horn region.
Personally I find most interesting the fact that there seem to be some correlations between Y-DNA and mtDNA. The author mentions that there is such correlation in diversity but it seems apparent that there is some more than just that, as should be obvious for example in the following graphs:

Population codes are:

  • AF Afar (Cushitic, Afar region: 2)
  • AM Amhara (Semitic, Amhara region: 3)
  • AN Anuak (Nilotic, Gambela: 6)
  • ML Maale (Omotic, SPNN region: 10)
  • OR Oromo (Cushitic, Oromia: 8)

What I have in mind is, first of all, that those populations who have the most Eurasian (F-derived) Y-DNA lineages also have the most Eurasian (N, M) mtDNA ones. However there is noticeably greater apportion of mtDNA from Eurasia than Y-DNA – and most of that excess corresponds to mtDNA M (all of it M1).
In a simplistic scenario in which one or several waves from Eurasia would be the only element to consider, we would expect similar apportions for male and female lineages or even noticeably more immigrant Y-DNA. This is not the case and therefore it is perplexing.
After some thoughts on the matter I realized that the situation is similar, mutatis mutandi, to the one of North Africa. This probably means that the cause of both anomalies can well be the same: a relatively recent (Epipaleolithic?) expansion of Afroasiatic-speaking peoples with mostly African male lineages (typically E1b1b-M215). But notice that in North Africa also J1 (ultimately from West Asia) appears to be also important in the Afroasiatic phenomenon, as it is in the Horn (and certainly in West Asia), making the situation even more complex for interpretation.
In this regard it is worth mentioning that haplotype networks from this study show that while the Amhara and Oromo J1 is intermingled and diverse, the Afar J1 forms a very tight cluster, strongly suggestive of an ancient founder effect.
Another such apparent correlation could be Y-DNA E1 and E1b1a7 with specific subclades (?) of mtDNA L0/L1 (probably L0) and L2. At least the apportions are almost identical among the Anuak (but not among other groups, hence why I suggest specific subclades to be determined).
It is a pity that no more fine detail was achieved with mtDNA, especially the more purely African part of it, i.e. L(xM,N). Much better detail is provided instead for the once-backmigrant M and N derived lineages (table 5.9), from which I highlight the following (only >5% shown):
  • All M is M1 (overall: 10%, AM 17%, OR 13%, AF 9%, ML 6%)
  • R0(xHV) reaches 11% among the Amhara (all R0: 15%)
  • N1 reaches 7% among the Afar
  • U(xK) reaches 6% among the Afar (all U: 9%)
  • K reaches 6% among the Maale (all U: 9%)
  • The Anuak seem the most purely African population among this selection with only 3% of M1 and 0% N. 
I would seem that even the Omotic, the most remote Afroasiatic branch according to linguists (some even consider it a distinct family), have some Eurasiatic genetic influence. However I’d say that this influence is at least largely pre-Neolithic and has been subject to deep reshaping by internal African dynamics as suggested above. Still Neolithic and even maybe post-Neolithic layers of West Eurasian deposition are also apparent in the structure – always in my understanding.


Ethio Helix has updated with extra information not included in the thesis.  Notable is a graph with much greater detail on the Y-DNA haplogroup distribution.

The E1* block is now split between a number of E1b1b subclades and some important dose of E1b1c, which is the dominant lineage among the Maale (and hence maybe among other Omotic peoples). Among the E1b1b sublineages, the Afar are relatively dominated by E1b1b1e, while the Maale have an important bloc of E1b1b1c1 and the Oromo appear dominated by E1b1b1a1b.

The B bloc is also split in several subclades, all them only relevant among the Anuak (most of it B2a and most B2a within B2a1a.

It is also quite notable that some J(xJ1,J2) has been found among the Maale. For reference on this rare paragroup, I’ll mention that another niche of J* is the nearby island of Socotra (74%, probably a verly local founder effect and specific lineage to be described) and there is also some J* reported among peninsular Arabs, some Turks, Greeks, Jews and a few others – but otherwise most Y-DNA J either belongs to J1 or J2.


Posted by on November 27, 2012 in African genetics, Ethiopia, mtDNA, Y-DNA


Elephant hair density helps cooling

The low density of elephant hair has been demonstrated to help cooling:
Conor L. Myrvhold. What Is the Use of Elephant Hair? PLoS ONE 2012. Open access ··> LINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047018]

At low densities, hair has almost no effect on air flow and does not
trap an insulating air layer near the skin, but the extended hair acts
as a pin fin that increases thermal exchanges with the surrounding air.
Thus, as the hair density decreases from that of very furry animals, a
break-even point is reached where the hair function switches from an
insulator to a heat exchanger. This break-even point occurs at a density
of about 0.3 million hairs/m2 [26] for thick hair covers with creeping flow in between (recall that 1500 hairs/m2 is about the maximum density of elephants). For comparison, the hair density of the human head is about 2 million hairs/m2 (see Methods and Discussion S1).

These heat dispersal properties were already known for plants (leaf hair, cactus’ spines) but it is the first time to be demonstrated for an animal, more specifically a mammal like us. 
Figure 1. Pictures of elephant hair on the top of the back of an Asian elephant, (A) and an African elephant’s head (B).
The presence of hair on elephants was first noted by van Leeuwenhoek
[30]. Photos taken by Conor L. Myhrvold in the Woodland Park Zoo,
Seattle, Washington, from outside of the elephant enclosure, with
permission from the Zoo.
I searched online for hair density on human body (the question we all have in mind, right?) and I could only find a commercial reference (I’d appreciate a better one if you know one). Still it seems that the hair density on tights and legs (and therefore probably on most of the body) in humans is 50 hairs/cm², what translates as 0.5 million hairs/m², somewhat (but not a lot) above the threshold mentioned above.
I’d dare suspect that this means that human body hair (vellus) is for most people thermally neutral but then I wonder how it works with sweat, which is a key part of our tropical thermo-regulatory natural design. Elephants and plants do not sweat (although they do get wet on occasion), so it may well work somewhat different for them.
That seems to be an interesting challenge to explore.
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Anthropometry, biology, elephants, hair, human evolution


Visual etymological

Spanish archaeological blog Asociación los Dólmenes reports today[es] that a curious and somewhat obscene finding is at the roots of the modern city of Seville (known as Hispalis in Roman times). The finding of a phallic relief on the entrance of one of the oldest buildings of that city, at the port, has open a debate on whether the city has its origins in whore house (as could be normal for a harbor) or are we talking instead of a building-protector deity apparently of North African origins (where is found in many public buildings).

But regardless of the exact meaning of the icon, the depiction of an erect virile member with avian legs made me think of the origin of colloquial Spanish and English words for penis: cock and polla (Sp. chicken, fem.) Obviously Romans were not thinking of T. rex, right?
What about other languages? Berber, Portuguese, Catalan-Occitan, French, Italian? 
PS: The image actually has a lizard-like tail what should get us all a bit perplex because the closest thing that comes to mind is a dinosaur but Romans could not know anything about dinos, could they? 
This is the kind of argument used to reject the authenticity of some archeological findings like in the Iruña-Veleia case, where conjectures about the plausibility or not of this or that text (the non-existent Descartes – is Miscart) or letter (Z for example) have been used as alleged proof of falsification
Whatever the deep logic behind this icon, it’s not weirder than gargoyles or centaurs, is it?

Ancient pig genetics

For some a religious taboo but for most a staple food, pigs have been in our farms and kitchens for many millennia now. 
It has been known for long that pigs are just the domestic variety of the Eurasian boar (Sus scrofa) but which populations specifically has been a matter of some debate. Now we know that East Asian pigs were domesticated locally (see appendix) but in the West it was found recently that European pigs have European boar lineages, while West Asian pigs in many cases do not. Previous studies determined that early European pigs were of West Asian ancestry but that by c. 4000 BCE all lineages were local.
This new study explores lineage diversity in ancient West Asian pigs from Anatolia, Kurdistan, Armenia, Georgia and Iran.
Claudio Otoni et al., Pig domestication and human-mediated dispersal in western Eurasia revealed through ancient DNA and geometric morphometrics. MBE 2012. Open accessLINK [doi: 10.1093/molbev/mss261]


Zooarcheological evidence suggests that pigs were domesticated in Southwest Asia ∼8,500 BC. They then spread across the Middle and Near East and westward into Europe alongside early agriculturalists. European pigs were either domesticated independently or appeared so as a result of admixture between introduced pigs and European wild boar. These pigs not only replaced those with Near Eastern signatures in Europe, they subsequently also replaced indigenous domestic pigs in the Near East. The specific details of these processes, however, remainturnover in the Near East, we analyzed ancient mitochondrial DNA and dental geometric morphometric variation in 393 ancient pig specimens representing 48 archeological sites (from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic to the Medieval period) from Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Syria and Turkey. Our results firstly reveal the genetic signature of early domestic pigs in Eastern Turkey. We also demonstrate that these early pigs differed genetically from those in western Anatolia that were introduced to Europe during the Neolithic expansion. In addition, we present a significantly more refined chronology for the introduction of European domestic pigs into Asia Minor that took place during the Bronze Age, nearly 1,000 years earlier than previously detected. By the 5th century AD, European signatures completely replaced the endemic lineages possibly coinciding with the demographic and societal changes during the Anatolian Bronze and Iron Ages. 

Probably most interesting is figure 1, which synthesizes the new findings:

(click to expand)

Fig. 1. A spatiotemporal depiction of ancient pig haplotypes. Rows represent eight chronological periods and columns pertain to sites organized along a longitudinal axis from west to east. Approximate locations of the archeological sites from which the samples are derived are shown as numbered circles on maps beneath the horizontal axis. Asterisks indicate directly AMS-dated samples. The question mark signifies not enough material was available for AMS dating. Slashed boxes indicate samples on which GMM analyses were performed. Pie charts to the right of each row summarize the haplotype frequencies for each chronological period across all sites. Columns pertain to one or two sites except for two columns that consist of several sites: Armenia (Sevkar-4, Areni-1, Khatunarkh, Shengevit, Lchashen, Tmbatir, Pilorpat, Beniamin, Tsakaektsi) and Iran (Qaleh Rostam, Qare Doyub, Qelīch Qōīneq, Dasht Qal’eh, Doshan Tepe, Malyan, Mehr Ali, Chogha Gavaneh and Gohar Tepe).

All shown West Asian lineages (Y1, Y2, Arm1T and Arm2T) belong to the NE2 clade, a related NE1 clade (common in Southern Iran, Iraq and Egypt, as well as Georgia) was not detected. See fig. 2 for details.

Early European domestic pigs all belonged to the Y1 haplotype, later replaced by the European ones, as mentioned above.

_________________________ . _________________________

Appendix: East Asian pigs were domesticated from local boars

Some references:

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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Neolithic, pig genetics, West Asia, West Eurasia