Monday, 25 March 2013

Ice House Earth, Greenhouse Earth and those in-between times ... our planet and its peoples ... the male ancestral line ... part 3/4




This is the third extract from the BBC programme "Meet your Ancestors / Meet the Izzards" ...

Central West Africa showing areas where
pygmy peoples are still found

The first man to whom we are related – that deepest branch of Y chromosome possible to trace our ancestry ... goes to the equatorial forests of West Africa – specifically to the Bakola pygmies found in the Cameroons.


I don’t really want to put you off reading more – but we’re all related to each other via our DNA ... minor blips taking that tree of life in different directions ...


Banana tree - NB bananas
grow upside down
... but we are also 98% identical with monkeys and incredibly 40% identical to bananas .... now I know why it takes all sorts to make a world – tiny, local, huge, continental etc etc!!


The first branch split off, recognised via their DNA as the Bakola – who continue to live a late Stone Age existence in the forest.  The Bakola are dark skinned pygmies – adapted in size due to the dense vegetation and low ultra-violet light ... this evolutionary adaption is what has helped other branches stay alive through the epochs to the present day.

Pygmy children

The male branch driven by curiosity, ability and climate change spread out further north, mastering most of the rest of the habitable parts of Africa.


Our Cameroon link takes us back 142,000 years, but the next step forward of 80,000 years was a pivotal moment in human history ... sometime before 60,000 years ago – the male ancestors of recent man left Africa to populate the rest of the world via the Red Sea.



A small genetic group along with our female ancestor’s line moved further north into the Gulf ... from which there was a population explosion ... difficult to imagine possible by early peoples ... how did they cope with the harsh Arabian Desert we know today?


The DNA markers link these extraordinary developments and tell us our prehistory ... about 50,000 years ago numerous other branches developed in the human family tree, indicating a population explosion of some kind ... from here all of our ancestors, who are not of recent African origin, are to be found.

Al Ras, Deira, Dubai - mid 1960s

We can find comparisons in today’s time ... if we look at for instance Dubai today ... there are over 8 million people, yet about 60 years ago Dubai was a desert back-water, when the population was just 70,000 ... but due to the huge technological advances in recent years ... Dubai is a futuristic city forged out of this desert waste-land.


Archaeological evidence appears all over the region, which reflects the technological ingenuity of those very early peoples and the fact that there was a very large shift in climate change.

A selection of stone age tools


The desert was environmentally completely different – Arabia was green and fertile ... and this is where huge caches of pre-historic stone tools are being uncovered.


Monsoons cycled the Indian Ocean which then dumped water all over the interior of Arabia ... it was to this flourishing land  that our early hunter gatherer ancestors flocked, as it provided all the food and water they needed.

Oasis in Israel

70,000 years ago with climate change things started to dry out as the earth was in an early phase of an ice age ... deserts started to form, but humans survived despite being trapped in the interior between impenetrable deserts ...


... it is thought that about 50,000 years ago there was a small period of climate change when the rains came, enabling this early human population to escape out of ‘their desert prison’ ...


Depiction of Neanderthal
burial at Kebara
The next male marker appears in Israel – where it is now thought all ancestral human populations came from ... and it is where, in the Kebara Cave, a recent Neanderthal cousin was found to be living 8 million years ago.


Most of us have a percentage of the Neanderthal DNA genome in our make up ... Eddie Izzard has a high proportion at 2.8%, while a very few have 5% ... the rest of us have a smaller percentage.


1.  Gorilla  2. Astralopithecus
3. Homo erectus  4. Neanderthal
5.  Steinheim Skull  6.  Eurohominid
About 55,000 years ago Eddie’s father’s line would have encountered a population of Neanderthals, and this is where interbreeding occurred ... giving some of us the anatomically different primitive features we can see today.


Neanderthals were fair and white, the Homo sapiens arriving out of Africa would have had dark hair and dark skins ... so the pre-history Middle Eastern peoples would have been a mixture ...


... the adjustment to colder weather as the population moved north, and the fact there was less sunlight necessitated a lower pigmentation ... leading to our skin colour of today, as well as the ginger hair that can be found ...


... this led Eddie to remark that ‘racism is stupid’ ... to think wars are fought over skin colour – when we’re all the same ... as we originate from that one Bushman woman, those two women who journeyed out of Africa into Arabia, and the West African male line.


During this evolutionary period  the Neanderthals blended in with Homo sapiens giving us a lighter skin tone, brown and ginger hair, brown and blue eyes and when the population became too large those curious humans felt the urge to move north ... to new hunting grounds perhaps.

Early bison - cave art

They would have been the first humans to colonise central Europe, travelling up the river valleys.  As this was 25,000 years ago, it would have been before the peak of the last ice age ... when big game was around ... European bison, mammoth, reindeer etc ...


About 20,000 years ago the next tie up in Eddie’s male line matches approximately 10% of European males today ... this common ancestor was about 700 generations ago ...


... both of his parents’ ancestors survived the last ice age ... the ice sheet coming down as far as London, across south of Denmark, north Germany and on ... while the perma frost extended south as far as the Danube ...

very early bone needles

... the perma frost would have pushed any human populations back south to warmer climes ... but it was still about 20 degrees C colder than it is now.


Another tool came to the fore at this time ... early man had furs, but found that using a needle the furs could be turned into wind-proof clothing.  The wind chill factor was appalling ... temperatures could plummet because there were fewer trees, so there was less protection against the northerly winds.
Sami fur skin boots


The bone needle meant clothes could be made, tents, bags, skin shoes ... etc ... allowing the population branches to survive and spread out ...  some along the Danube in a westerly direction, other groups, including Eddie’s ancestors, moved north.

Sami beaded belt, knife, and
antler needle case

The ebb and flow of the ice witnessed another defining moment in man’s history ... protection was sought deep within caves, from the glacial cold.


The British Museum has an exhibition on at the moment – I am going to see it tomorrow – on “Ice Age Art – ‘the arrival of the modern mind’” – an exhibition 40,000 years in the making ... the Guardian stating that ‘not even Leonardo surpassed this’.

British Museum's sculpture advert picture
Ice Age Art - arrival of the human mind

The art created in the caves the programme showed us was from the Pyrenees ... the Izzard father’s line went north ... but it was surreal being shown these caves having seen a programme on the British Museum’s Ice Age Art exhibition only in early February ...


... apparently (and understandably if we get to think about it) the caves were extremely dark and there would only, on occasions, have been a glow of light ... but for a great deal of the time - the art work done 16 – 15,000 years ago was done through feel, and the vibration of the sound as the cave drawings were made; this series of caves showed many animals meticulously drawn – bison, stag, horse etc. ...


Horses found in Chauvet cave, France
 By the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago, our ancestors had colonised Europe in various directions ...


Eddie’s father’s next significant marker occurred 4 – 3,000 years ago and is to be found in Lower Saxony, northern Germany ... only about ½% of people in England have this marker.

Goettingen

That need for land meant Eddie’s male line crossed over into Britain probably 1,500 years ago ... and a distant relative can be found in Lincolnshire ... however it looks like this particular genetic branch might die out – as his ancestral cousin, his brother and Eddie himself do not have sons.


The Lower Saxony, German connection is where the branch split – with the Izzards moving into Britain probably around 400 AD in the first wave of migrations from an over-resourced northern Europe;

Eddie Izzard c/o The Guardian

while the other line at the time of exploration, revolutionary technologies and an ability to cross seas left for the new land of north America in the 1800s – where an ancestral cousin of the Izzards is to be found today.


Eddie’s father lives in Bexhill on the Sussex coast and can trace the Izzard records back to 1650.

DNA - see Wikipedia

As more of the science of DNA is revealed we are going to find out so much more about what makes us tick ...


BBC One’s Meet the Izzards – the male line




Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories



52 comments:

Francene Stanley said...

How exciting to visit the museum and see Ice Age Art. I wish I could join you. I'll bet you'll share what you see. 40,000 years of art is exciting in concept.

YVONNE LEWIS: said...

A wonderful exerience to visit the museum Hilary, I know you will have a great time, Enjoy.


Yvonne.

Laura Marcella said...

This was such a fascinating post! Thanks for sharing. I vaguely remember learning about this in school so thanks for refreshing my memory. And I love this: "racism is stupid ... to think wars are fought over skin colour – when we’re all the same." SO SO TRUE. I wish everyone would finally realize that.

Karen Lange said...

Interesting stuff. I imagine the museum has all sorts of intriguing sights.

Have a great week!

Take care,
Karen :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a huge growth for Dubai!

Bossy Betty said...

Thanks for the info! It is fascinating!

Karen Walker said...

I am completely fascinated by this series, Hilary. How long does it take you to do this research?
Karen

L.G. Smith said...

National Geographic has been doing an ongoing genetics study of where people come from based on their DNA. I would love to find out which path my ancestors took to get to northern Europe. Interesting stuff.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Very interesting, Particularly the Neanderthal connection.

Susan Roebuck said...

I always say that racism is mad because I believe none of us (or hardly any) are really from the place we're living in. Now you've confirmed it! Fascinating post. Thanks for the information.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I would love to visit this museum someday Hilary!!

Suze said...

A tour de force post, Hil! A lot to take in here, very well done.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I love archaeology and past history, this is a great post.

I am beginning to wonder where the 40% banana is in my body though . LOL

Have a good week Diane

Old Kitty said...

I'm definitely annoyed that I missed this programme! It sounds so fascinating! It's now only available in Scotland!

take care
x

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Francene - tomorrow ... I think it will be amazing to actually see these ancient objects. I will do a blog post - after the A-Z ... but I'll mention it before ..

@ Yvonne - the British Museum visit will be fascinating .. and I'm going to see an art exhibition on Newlyn artists (Cornish) ...

@ Laura - so pleased you enjoyed the posting ... and I was so pleased Eddie Izzard highlighted those words .. and I so agree with you - and IF ONLY we'd all realise it: Racism is stupid ...

@ Karen - lots happening at the Museum .. but I shall enjoy the Ice Art

@ Alex - Dubai's change in 60 years is amazing isn't it ...

@ Betty - glad you enjoyed the post .. thanks

@ Luanne - it seems the added bonus here was being able to trace one man's roots back to both the female and male origins ... and then have that added Neanderthal inbreeding appear too - backing up his 'looks' ...

Well I'm sure we will be able to trace our own ancestors ... at some stage ...

@ Sia - yes that Neanderthal range is fascinating isn't it ...

@ Susan - so right .. we've all come to live where we are via various roots - and it's obvious when we look at specific people ..

@ Keith - I do hope you can get to see the British Museum sometime .. I really should spend more time there ...

@ Suze - many thanks ... yes the four posts include a lot of information, but I felt I couldn't shorten it without losing those journeys ..

@ Diane - I'm just so delighted everyone's enjoying the series ...

Yes - that 40% banana is a bit of a worry isn't it .. is it the right way up or what?!

@ Old Kitty - I'm certain the programme will return and be repeated ... the Beeb always do put these sorts of programmes on again .. sorry you missed it though ..

Cheers to you all - thanks so much for the comments - Hilary

YVONNE LEWIS: said...

Just a message in my capacity as Arlee Bird's Ambassador to wish you luck with the challenge, hope you're well.

Yvonne.

Teresa Coltrin said...

Ohhh, I love this. I know I'm related to the ape because I love bananas and would climb a tree if my body would cooperate.

This is awesome, Hilary.

Suzanne Furness said...

Related to bananas. I ate one today, yikes! Seriously, this is interesting stuff. It is amazing what we can find out by tracing DNA.

Enjoy your trip to the museum tomorrow :)

M Pax said...

Isn't it fascinating? I read a book called the Seven Daughters of Eve, all about how related we are. Really interesting stuff. For a story about DNA.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Interesting stuff. Living through those ice ages must have been incredibly tough, with just skin and furs.

Julia Hones said...

What a fascinating post, Hilary! I can't get enough of this information. I love it. Thank your for writing it.

Bish Denham said...

It just goes to show how small our world really is, how deeply connected we are to everything and to each other.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

How terribly considerate of the museum to feature that Ice Age exhibit to coincide with your blog posts, eh? I don't suppose you'll be allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but I'm sure you'll tell us all about it. Have fun!

Jo said...

Aren't there any Izzard markers in the bunch that made it through Northern Asia and eventually across the Bering Sea (land then) with their reindeer and became the Inuit and the Navajo Indians.

JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

Denise Covey said...

Now I 'll have to consider each time I reach for a banana - my favourite snack food - it's 40% me. Fantastic research Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yvonne .. thanks.

@ Teresa - many of us love bananas don't we .. and I'd love to have a tree house ... that would be amazing .. and just be a part of the tree world for a while.

Glad you enjoyed the post - appreciate that.

@ Suzanne - sorree Suzanne .. DNA is everything in life .. and being able to trace where individuals come from is incredible isn't.

I'm looking forward to my London trip today ..

@ Mary - thanks .. just looked in Wiki where there's a brief review of the book by Brian Sykes, which came out in 2001 ... it does look an informative read.

@ Annalisa - just living then would have been tough ... but it shows how humans adapted to their environment .. and the technological advances then - eg the needle, making clothes

@ Julia - appreciate that you're enjoying it .. my posts aren't definitive, but I enjoy writing it up - some thing to refer back to.

@ Bish - you've said it correctly .. we are connected to everything, let alone each other ...

@ Susan - I've got the book ... and I'm probably not allowed to take photos, but there are articles around. But I shall enjoy the visit .. and will tell you about it .. sometime!

@ Jo - They won't be Izzard markers, but other markers will have made it through somehow ..

@ Denise - yup 40% us has connections to those bananas! It's incredible to think about really ... thanks to the scientists and BBC for letting the public know about it! I'm grateful - I can put my Hilary DNA to it!!!

Cheers to you all ... British Museum day .. still mighty cold - but the north is really suffering ... animals buried in the snow .. the weather is playing havoc with us all .... Hilary

Lynn said...

That is so interesting. I wish we could all trace our ancestry like that - I imagine it costs a lot?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lynn .. at the moment I'm sure it'll cost an arm and a leg to trace one's own lineage.

The simpler route is via the records offices - paper records ... sometime I guess we'd be able to see if we originated from those two women out of Africa.

It's a fascinating thought isn't it ..

Cheers Hilary

Inger said...

Inspirational stories, indeed. Thank you so much for this interesting post. I want to study all this some more when I have more time.

Tina said...

I agree that this is a wonderful series! I hope the museum met your expectations! Can't wait for the last installment.


Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

My nephew did a family tree several years ago and discovered our ancestors came down from the Arctic. To say we hunted and sew furs even more recent than most.

Fascinating stuff, Hilary. Wonderful series.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger - so pleased you're enjoying the posts - thanks for saying you'll be back when you have time ..

@ Tina - as I said to Inger - so appreciate the thumbs up.

The Museum was incredible .. but am glad I have the book here ... in fact I can see more ... but to actually see the items and see the descriptions re the ice ages etc was fascinating to know about.

So I'll get on with writing the last part!

Cheers to you both - it is so miserably cold here - I'm glad to be home .. even if tired! Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joylene - that's fascinating to find your ancestors came down from the Arctic ... so I'm sure you were from those early tool adapters ... and hunted and gathered as best you could, also sewed: so interesting.

Amazing where peoples travelled - before 'us lot' settled where we are ...

I'd wondered from your book - I have yet to read it ... I will! .. if you had indigenous roots somewhere in the family ...

Did you bring that aspect out via your writing, or did your nephew confirm it after publication?

Cheers Hilary

Laura Eno said...

So...I've migrated from the Black Sea, am probably related to Eddie Izzard (and proud to be English, Irish, Scottish)...but now you're telling me I'm related to a banana as well?
Hilary. Hilary. I've never seen a blue-eyed banana before. You've done such a marvelous job with yours posts, though, I'll have to take your word for it.
Now I'm worried. All those times I've brought bananas home and let the poor things wither and die...am I guilty of familicide?

Tara Tyler said...

wow! tracing ancestry thru dna to cavemen! amazing!

Nick Wilford said...

40% the same as bananas? I never fail to find something fascinating I never knew on your blog, Hilary! As humans, we really did get lucky.

Patricia said...

I am enjoying this series Hilary and I like all your new facts and stories of interest. Not boring at all - a bit like looking at the family pictures.

Banana eh? I will have to think about that...and I will need to look up Eddie Izzard...I do not know who he is. (oops!)

Good words found here - thank you for sharing

Chatty Crone said...

You are amazing. What a great lesson you have written here. I have had to come back and read it a couple of times. That was so interesting. I don't know how you do it. sandie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Laura - it's a good mix isn't it - and you probably don't like milk after your ancestors?!

Blue-eyed bananas - well they try many things in science... I don't think the two characteristics meet as such .. maybe the banana element is elsewhere in our bodies?!

Well - bananas have a habit of going rather brown and gungy don't they ... familicide - perhaps ... we'll have to ask the mystery writers amongst us about this!

@ Tara - science and research is quite incredible - what we can glean from our saliva ....

@ Nick - yes ... just amused me too - and you're right about humans being lucky ...

@ Patricia - thanks .. I so enjoyed the 'learning' element of the two programmes ...

No worries - Eddie Izzard isn't my favourite ... but the programme was fascinating - I loved the popular science they gave us.

@ Sandie - pleasure .. especially when I have so many great comments, including yours ...

I have other distractions, but not family and tend to rule my own waves .. so I can spend time doing these things - which amuse (interest) me so much.

Cheers to you all .. and thanks so much for being here - Hilary

Alexandra Heep said...

I always thought we were older than this. I also remember dimly from my school lessons that we all supposedly developed from neanderthals. Never heard about Izzard or the African bit.

Morgan said...

So, so, so, SO COOL...

And I would totally wear those fur boots!

:D

Sara said...

Hilary,

What a fascinating story about DNA and history. It scares me slightly to think we are incredibly 40% identical to bananas:~) I loved how you traced the history of the DNA markers and all the interesting stories about people moving. My youngest daughter would LOVE this post. I'll send it to her:~)

Cheers to you!

Chase March said...

Hi Hilary,

My uncle is really into genealogy and he has traced our family back nearly 500 years.

You are right, at some point, in our of our family trees there has to be some overlap. It's possible that everyone on the entire planet has a common ancestor. So we are all family and maybe we should think about that more often.

The moral - Be nice, you could be related.

Chuck said...

Hilary, that is fascinating stuff. You continue my education ever
time I read one of your posts.

DNA is intriguing stuff and I would love to trace my heritage back in time...one of these days.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex - homo sapiens is only as old as about 200,000 years .. and now they've had time to do more research - these are the latest findings - perhaps this will be updated in due course ..

@ Morgan - well .. that would be coooool to see you do your ballet practise in those boots?!

@ Sara - perhaps your daughter saw the programme .. I'm sure it will be repeated. Thanks for forwarding the post on ... I know but the scientists are finding out so much ... bananas as a relative! Strange but true ..

@ Chase - that's a long way back .. 500 years - good for your uncle and you're so lucky to have had someone do it for the family ..

I'm sure we're all related somewhere along the line .. yes = be nice to one and all.

@ Chuck - many thanks appreciate your support. DNA is intriguing isn't it - they keep finding out new things ...

Also it get easier to find our heritage, as records get more accessible ..

Thanks so much ... cheers Hilary

Madeleine Sara said...

I saw the first episode of this programme. I have seen other programmes about the first women to create the world's population and it is all so fascinating and shows that we are all truly inter-related.
Great post Hilary.

nutschell said...

fascinating post! I always learn something new from you Hilary:)
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Madeleine .. thanks so much - I just felt I wanted to write about it .. I found it all so fascinating ..

@ Nutschell .. glad you enjoyed it ..

Cheers to you both .. Hilary

Val Poore said...

Simply fascinating. It all makes us realise how futile racism really is, and how intricately interwoven our human history has proved to be. Wonderful post, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Val - disliking another human being is so unnecessary as we're all the same ... and our human history is intricately woven ... as you mention ..

Thanks and so well said .. Happy Easter - Hilary

Lisa said...

Great post, and I love Eddie...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Lisa .. for last year's comment!! Cheers Hilary