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You Could Be a Descendant of Genghis Chan

Mar 09, 2015 05:56 PM EDT
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If you are an Asian man, then there's a good chance that you could be a descendant of Genghis Chan, according to a new genetic study.

Geneticists from the University of Leicester have discovered that millions of modern Asian men are related to 11 powerful dynastic leaders who lived up to 4,000 years ago - including famous Mongolian warlord, Genghis Khan.

During the study, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, researchers examined the Y chromosome, which is passed down from father to son. Normally, most Y-chromosome types are very rare, but the team was able to find 11 types that were relatively common among the Asian men of today.

Interestingly, previous research has found two common male lineages, one of them being Genghis Chan, and another a less-known one, Giocangga. But this time around, after studying more than 5,000 Asian men belonging to 127 populations, the Leicester team found genetic links via a chain of male ancestors to both Genghis Khan and Giocangga, in addition to nine other dynastic leaders who originated from throughout Asia and date back to between 2100 BC and 700 AD.

"The youngest lineages, originating in the last 1700 years, are found in pastoral nomadic populations, who were highly mobile horse-riders and could spread their Y chromosomes far and wide. For these lineages to become so common, their powerful founders needed to have many sons by many women, and to pass their status - as well as their Y chromosomes - on to them. The sons, in turn, could then have many sons, too. It's a kind of trans-generation amplification effect," study leader Mark Jobling said in a statement.

However, while this is promising evidence that as an Asian man, you are likely a descendant of some ancient powerful leader, the results are not cut and dry.

"Identifying the ancestors responsible for these lineages will be difficult or impossible, as it would rely on finding their remains and extracting and analyzing ancient DNA. This hasn't yet been done for Genghis Khan, for example, so the evidence remains circumstantial, if pretty convincing," first author Patricia Balaresque concluded.

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