Finns are now genetically considered an independent population instead of a part of the European population, thanks to a recent study.
A large team of scientists analyzed the genetic codes of more than 60,000 people from five continents in order to provide the biggest data set of its kind to the scientific community. The details of this study, published in Nature, are already providing interesting insights, including the genetic difference of the Finnish population to the rest of the European population.
The study analyzed mutations in the protein coding regions in the DNA, called exome regions. Different populations display different mutations on some of these genes.
Limited genetic diversity within the Finnish population has been a previous fascination for scientists. The categorizing of Finns as an independent genetic population has broad implications for various branches of science.
Genetic variations allow scientists to study and understand the functions of different genes. Medical biology and epidemiology (the study of health and disease in defined populations) especially rely on the study of genetics.
Finns are an ideal population for gene mapping due to their genetic lack of diversity, called homogeneity. Gene mapping needs to be completed prior to specialized studies on specific genes.
Population genetics are directly related to the study of history and evolution. The genetic difference of the Finn population raises many questions.
If Finns didn't evolve from Europeans, where did they come from? How did Finnish people end up adjacent to, but separate from, the European population?
Scientifically, the "Finnish population" is not inclusive of all Finns. It is limited to genetic relatives of the 16th century settlement population consisting of about 1,500 families in eastern Finland.
In addition to genetics, Finnish linguistics also evolved separately from other European languages. Finnish is part of the Uralian language family, with its closest relative being Estonian.
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