Finnetics

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Via Dienekes I found this important new paper on Finnish genetics, Regional differences among the Finns: A Y-chromosomal perspective. This is a meaty paper, so I put it up in the GNXP forum files (“finnY”). Here is the abstract:

Twenty-two Y-chromosomal markers, consisting of fourteen biallelic markers…eight STRs…were analyzed in 536 unrelated Finnish males from eastern and western subpopulations of Finland…These results suggest that the western and eastern parts of the country have been subject to partly different population histories, which is also supported by earlier archaeological, historical and genetic data. It seems probable that early migrations from Finno-Ugric sources affected the whole country, whereas subsequent migrations from Scandinavia had an impact mainly on the western parts of the country. The contacts between Finland and neighboring Finno-Ugric, Scandinavian and Baltic regions are evident. However, there is no support for recent migrations from Siberia and Central Europe.

Points of note.

1) mtDNA and Y lineages often give different results. As the paper emphasizes this may be because of different population histories (e.g., Mestizos tend to exhibit Western European Y chromsomal profiles and Amerindian mtDNA because of their ethnogenesis), or, it may be because of sociological dynamics (patrilocality tends homogenize mtDNA distributions while fostering local Y substructure). Other factors like selective sweeps on mtDNA could also result in a difference.

2) There is a east to west gradient in markers. This shouldn’t surprise too much. About 10% of the variation was accounted for by this population vs. population difference (80% was intragroup, while 10% was between groups within the subpopulation).

3) I’ve noted before that R1b, which is modal in much of western Europe, is rather rare in Finland (and is found in moderate frequencies in Sweden). Also, M17, which is associated with Slavs in a European context, is also found at moderate levels in Finland (M17 in England seems to be associated with settlement in the Danelaw by Norwegians and Danes).

4) I am a bit confused as to whether these data included Finns of Swedish ethnicity.

5) The authors note that they do detect the signature of migrations to areas where there is recent attested resettlement by Finns from a particular locale.

6) The authors reiterate findings that the Finnish Y lineages show no evidence of some found at high frequencies in Siberian groups which also carry the common Finno-Ugric Tat C marker. In other words, we can probably eliminate the possibility of a recent admixture event with a Siberian group to explain the peculiarities of the Finnish Y chromosomal profile (either the Siberians received Tat C from Finland, or, I think more likely there are particular similarities amongst the circumpolar peoples of Eurasia which have a deep time depth before their later diversification and admixture).

7) The nonrecombinant portion of the Y chromosome has a lot more sequence to analyze than the mtDNA. This gives researchers more information to work with, but, my understanding is that the molecular clock is far less precisely calibrated than on the mtDNA, so the time frame tends to be sketchier.

Overall, this paper reinforces the idea that Finns are distinct from the peoples of Western Europe, seeing as they have little evidence of R1b, but that they share considerable continuity with other Scandinavians, as well as peoples to the East (Slavs). One issue that I think needs to be addressed is that the mental model people have in regards to the genesis of the Finns is often of a group of Siberian tribes hurtling through “Slav space” and settling amongst a bunch of Scandinavians and slowly admixing. I think it is easy for people to imagine “clumps” of populations in a larger distinct matrix, and then model the mixture of clumps resulting in the peoples we see around us. I suspect that the reality is that many of the genetic gradients are the result of more prosaic deme-to-deme mate exchange and movement over time. Large migrations might have played a role, but the introgression of M17 into Finland (if it wasn’t indigenous to Finland in the first place) need not be explained by a few movements of Slavic tribes, rather, it might have been due to the long term residence of Slavs along the southern edge of the Finnish world and the inevitable bleeding over of marriage networks.

In any case, the paper has a lot of historical context and conjecture, and I’m curious what some of the Finnish readers think about those points.

28 Comments

  1. Fascinatin’, tks, although ‘way over my head. Is there a simple/dumb/EZ-English way of putting this that doesn’t do too much damage to the facts, or what appear to be the facts? As in: “The current best guess it that some Finns are the result of Huns mating with Martian invaders,” or some such? If not, so be it. But if anyone wants to give it a try, I’d be appreciative. Finns, who knew?

  2. For starters, most of this East-West speculation is not new, although this paper is a more extensive and rigorous look into the matter, which is good. 
     
    A one-sentence summary of the origins of the Finns might be too much to ask… For those unfamiliar with the theories, you could look at something like this, if you can get it: 
     
    Finnish Disease Heritage II: population prehistory and genetic roots of Finns. Hum Genet (2003) 112: 457-469 
     
    It’s a bit fanciful, but it explains more of the underlying thinking than the newer, more technical paper.

  3. If one sentence is too much to ask for, I’d be happy with a short paragraph of plain English. Sigh: technical language puts me to sleep, one of the main reasons I bailed out of science back in college…

  4. I’ll leave the chromosome stuff to the scientists,it goes right “over my dandruff” (as we like to say). 
     
    One thing I can comment on,is the Finnish-Swedish community,which is an interesting case in itself.(This Wiki page has more.) 
     
    Finland’s Swedish-speakers are not ethnically Swedish,strictly speaking.They are derived from Swedish immigrants who began arriving on our coasts in the Middle ages,and “upwardly-mobile” ethnic Finns who adopted Swedish language (and intermarried) during the long Swedish rule (-1809). 
     
    Also the community was contributed to by Russian,German and Jewish immigrant families that adopted the Swedish language.(Swedish was the language of the elites and the government until the late 19th century.)That’s why we have Finnish-Swedes with names like Tabermann,von Boehm etc.) 
     
    As such,it probably doesn’t surprise you that the Finnish-Swedes have contributed far beyond their numbers to the intellectual,economic and political life of our nation*.(See the list in the link) 
     
    (* – Have been enormously successful,as the Americans would say.But to use a frame like that would not be advisable in Finland.)

  5. Jussi, 
     
    So would Linus Torvalds be an example of this latter group – as I’ve always thought so?

  6. Actually with a little research, I can answer that myself – see this List of Finland-Swedes
     
    Answer=yes.

  7. One paragraph… OK, I’ll just be lazy and quote from the article: 
     
    Archeologists assume that Finland was settled by repeated migration waves with associated genetic and/or cultural effects, including the arrival of the comb ceramic culture from the east (6900?4900 YBP) and the corded ware culture at the western parts of the country (approximately 5200?4800 YBP) [probably Indo-European 'battle axe' people]. Later, Finland received important influences especially from the south and west, e.g. from the Baltic region and Scandinavia. 
     
    The interesting question is, can any of these migration waves be connected to a major influence in the Finnish gene pool. From the recent article it looks like it might be possible that the original Finno-Ugric migrants with their somewhat eastern genes arrived early, before 3000 BC. Later, the battle-axe culture arrived and merged with people in Western Finland, but the people did not switch to an Indo-European language, unlike most of Europe. Later Baltic and Swedish influences have made Finns, especially Western ones, even more similar to western Europeans. 
     
    This would be fascinating if true, but is it too much of an archeological just-so story, even if we know it’s a simplification? Can anyone think of a plausible alternative?

  8. Torvalds – affirmative.The story I read was that the family name was Torvald until some ancestor,for reasons unknown,added the ´s´.(very odd in a Swedish name.)

  9. “Finns migrating through Slav space to end up near Scandinavians” is indeed the usual annoying and ridiculous mental picture – and not just in how it’s confused about Finns. In terms of languages, if there were any relatives of today’s local ethnic “supergroups” (in the sense of speaking language of an internal family branching of that depth) meeting the linguistic ancestors of Finns upon arrival to the Baltic Sea area, they were definitely *Balts*. (Slavs have no business in the picture at all: known Slavic contacts begin at about 800 AD, millenia after the likely arrival of the ancestor of Finnish.) 
     
    The problem here is that many people tend to build general pictures by anachronistically extrapolating the “crudest” patterns (the largest ethnicities) they see today back in time. Small ethnicities tend to automatically end up considered “mysterious”, because mental pictures of prehistoric ethnic developments are easily formed without taking them into account and of course “mysterious” contradictions then show up when you add the small ones later into whatever picture looked “clear” with much fewer data points. Baltic & Finnic are good examples: you see these common ideas about Finns as “Scandinavians + Siberians” that immediately reveal themselves to be garbage by being completely oblivious to what were likely the *most* intimate prehistoric non-Finnic/Finnic-speaking contacts in the area – southwestern Finnic and Baltic contacts. (Well, partly prehistoric. One language shift from Finnic to Baltic is *still* going on in Latvia.) 
     
    Of course, this also makes the subject currently nice to an amateur observer, as lots of new stuff is coming up but few linguists know much about genetics and few people who know genetics know about languages. For example, regarding those Y and mtDNA lineages, I find it interesting that Finnish has a gender imbalance: roughly, the vocabulary on males (brother, son, fiancé…) is domestic but much of the vocabulary on females (sister, daughter, bride…) and marriage has been replaced by very old Baltic loanwords and a few later ones. That is, that there was some sort of imbalanced gender dynamics in the prehistoric contacts seems likely based on languages alone (the vocabulary suggesting bias towards “Finnic male + foreign female” mating).

  10. 4) I am a bit confused as to whether these data included Finns of Swedish ethnicity. 
     
    It’s not clearly stated, but it would make sense if Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnians are. 
     
    That was the most surprising result as well – why are the genetically most “western” areas not the coasts, but a sparsely populated area in the middle of the “western” zone? The authors speculate it could be due to larger Finnish populations in the other areas to begin with, but it still doesn’t explain why Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia clusters in the “middle” and not in the “west”.

  11. The origin of I1a and R1b haplogroups in Western Europe is in franco-cantabrian refugium, but is this true for the finns as well? 
    Maybe a R1b sublineage could be of eastern-southeastern european origin( like in Greece). 
    However, the iberian origin of some mtDNA of finns and saami offer curious surprises: 
     
    http://www.familytreedna.com/pdf/U_paper.pdf 
     
    Berbers and Scandinavians united by their common western european( galician-basques) ancestors!

  12. The origin of I1a and R1b haplogroups in Western Europe is in franco-cantabrian refugium, but is this true for the finns as well? 
     
    The point was that R1b is very rare in Finland compared to W-Europe.

  13. (the vocabulary suggesting bias towards “Finnic male + foreign female” mating). 
     
    Hmm. Sounds like sexual selection.

  14. windy, jaakkeli, Hilde, 
     
    I would like to throw out a few conjectures that might explain the population dynamics of Finland. 
     
    It would seem to me that the Saami, who have very high rates of mtDNA V – the Basques and Berbers have the next highest rates of V IIRC – represent on the maternal side, the original population of this area. I think that the people in the Franco-Cantabrian refugium, during the LGM, were probably living on fish, sea mammals and reindeer. When the ice started to recede, the reindeer hunters/herders simply followed the herds and eventually ended up in their present location. 
    Later Finno-Ugric speaking hunters, Y-DNA N3, migrated into the area and settled it sparsely, and conquered the reindeer people, to give us the Saami of today. 
    Still later small groups of agriculturalists, expanding out of Scandanavia or some other area to the West moved into the Western and Southern parts of Finland and settled it more intensively. 
    Much later, due probably to the Indo-Aryan or later Slavic expansions, Finnic speakers were conquered and either assimilated or driven out of what is today’s European Russia in directions, North and East. This caused a wave of Finnic speakers to push into Southern and Western Finland and conquer the agriculturalists already there.  
    Of course this is a simplification, and conquer may be incorrect, as it could be a selective sweep either, for some advantageous allele carried by N3 males.  
    It’s also possible that the Blondeness was inherited from the agriculturalists, and due to runaway sexual selection that it became dominant – ala Peter Frost theory. 
     
    The question would be what sub-structure exists within the N or N3 Finnish or Saami males – is there evidence of multiple waves of Finnic speakers moving into Finland, or only one??

  15. It’s also possible that the Blondeness was inherited from the agriculturalists, and due to runaway sexual selection that it became dominant – ala Peter Frost theory. 
     
    Sexual selection vis-à-vis Frost could have been occurring in Scandanavia well into the 1800′s since fishing is such a major way of life there, where the seas are particularly perilous. I wonder if anyone has male mortality stats for the region. Of course this would conlfict with the claim that Finnish males were marrying “foreign” women–at least on the surface.

  16. O yeah, here sumptin’ on sexual selection: 
     
    The fury of Vikings sacking monasteries in England was reported by Christian clerics who were targets of the brutality. Scandinavian historians have focused on studies of trade and colonization to mollify this savage reputation of Vikings. However, an aspect of violence in Viking society that has received little attention is the indirect effect that pillaging or colonizing abroad had on Scandinavian society at home. As Viking men died abroad, whether by violence or natural causes, women suffered the consequences of female infanticide as a regulatory mechanism of population control. 
     
    A variety of Old Norse literary and historical sources report that exposure of female infants was practiced, and women are underrepresented in grave material of the eighth through twelfth centuries A.D. in Scandinavia. Though this dearth of women may be partially attributed to different burial rites or biased archaeological methods, it also seems that there were in reality fewer women than men in these Scandinavian populations. In this paper I correlate written sources with the archaeological shortage of women and finds of scattered infant bones, probable evidence of exposure. I also examine the concealed violence against women and children that is implicit in selective infanticide.
     
     
    Source: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/gender2000/abstracts/Wicker.htm 
     
    I hate Vikings.

  17. If you google around, you’ll find more a few more papers like two mentioned in this link: 
     
    http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/VikingWomensStudies.shtml 
     
    It seems as the Vikings went-a-vinking they suffered terrible losses in males. Since their line of work, namely rape, pillage & plunder, was testosterone intensive, they had to kill off their lazy flabby whiny females. 
     
    Perhaps they kept all the pretty blonde blue-eyed infants, who knows? This would further result in a higher concentration of blone blue-eyed Vikings. 
     
    But since they were also a significant shortage of women, they probably had to import women from other areas of lower latitude, which supposedly produces less blue eyes. But then again, if you’re used to slapping hot blonde blue-eyed booty everynight, then you’ll only kidnap more hot blonde blue-eyed booty from plundered lands. 
     
    Think about it, wouldn’t you kidnap this? 
     
    http://www.segginger.net/Good_Pictures/claudia_schiffer/pictures/Claudia_Schiffer02.jpg 
     
    O, Hell yeah! 
     
    I love Vikings!

  18. pconroy: I would like to throw out a few conjectures that might explain the population dynamics of Finland. 
     
    It’s a good summary, and plausible to a large part, at least to me. Here’s a few more comments. 
     
    It would seem to me that the Saami, who have very high rates of mtDNA V – the Basques and Berbers have the next highest rates of V IIRC – represent on the maternal side, the original population of this area. I think that the people in the Franco-Cantabrian refugium, during the LGM, were probably living on fish, sea mammals and reindeer. When the ice started to recede, the reindeer hunters/herders simply followed the herds and eventually ended up in their present location. 
    Later Finno-Ugric speaking hunters, Y-DNA N3, migrated into the area and settled it sparsely, and conquered the reindeer people, to give us the Saami of today.
     
     
    The main events seem to have played out about so, although details may vary (for example, did some people arrive along the coast of Norway, or from other refugia?). Linguistically, Saami and Finnish were not necessarily separate at this point, so to pinpoint one nation to one migration is likely too simplistic. 
     
    Still later small groups of agriculturalists, expanding out of Scandanavia or some other area to the West moved into the Western and Southern parts of Finland and settled it more intensively. 
     
    This migration corresponds rather well with the Scandi/Baltic Battle-Axe people already mentioned. 
     
    Much later, due probably to the Indo-Aryan or later Slavic expansions, Finnic speakers were conquered and either assimilated or driven out of what is today’s European Russia in directions, North and East. This caused a wave of Finnic speakers to push into Southern and Western Finland and conquer the agriculturalists already there. 
     
    This is the only implausible thing- if due to Slavic expansion around 1000 years ago, it is too late to fit with known events, for example existence of Finnish tribes and Swedish crusades at around then. And note that Finnish has old Baltic loan words related to farming, but Saami does not. So the contact must have occurred earlier – we don’t know where, but for simplicity we could assume Balts + Finnics merger in Finland or close by. 
     
    The ‘conquest’ was possibly a less dramatic diffusion over the years – the farmers were probably not as successful as they were in the south. There were little metals – people made stone copies of the ceremonial bronze battle-axes. A few bad farming years in those latitudes, and you can’t replenish your seed supply. The Finnic hunter males come knocking, things are not looking so good, but at least you can offer them your daughters and beer [=two baltic loan words!] in exchange for fish and meat :-) Or whatever. 
     
    It’s also possible that the Blondeness was inherited from the agriculturalists, and due to runaway sexual selection that it became dominant – ala Peter Frost theory. The question would be what sub-structure exists within the N or N3 Finnish or Saami males – is there evidence of multiple waves of Finnic speakers moving into Finland, or only one?? 
     
    Hard to say – at this point it doesn’t look like there were distinct waves, but perhaps a closer look at the substructure you mention could change that.

  19. windy, 
     
    Well as I said, conquer is a bad word, better might have been partially replace, without stating the reason.  
     
    As regards peoples expanding in today’s European Russia, I did mention the Indo-Aryans, and they are thousands of years ago. There have also been Hunnic expansions in the 4th century, Turkish – Khazars, Cumans, Pechenegs – expansions, Mongol expansion, Lithuanian expansion, yada, yada. It doesn’t really matter who is doing the expansion, except that it has a ripple effect towards the North East of this area. Any and all of them probably did, IMO. But of course as you note, it doesn’t mean that any of these peoples were expanding into Finland, just that it pushed Finnic speakers in close proximity to today’s Finland further into the country, and caused then to replace the male agriculturalists that lived there.

  20. well, the “Indo-Aryans” probably had some contact with Finnic peoples thousands of years ago, since there are some ancient IE loan words. But I don’t know if it’s really necessary to postulate an ancient “domino effect” of peoples leading all the way from the Black Sea to Finland. Two populations can compete over an area and experience admixture even without someone ‘pushing’ them from 1000s of km’s away. 
     
    And the current view is that Finnic speakers were already present in Finland when the farmers entered. Your hypothesis, that only the ‘Saami’ were present but not the ‘Finns’, is intriguing, but presents problems: 
    -Finnish and Saami languages would have to be separated by at least about 6000 years, much longer than that assumed by current linguistics. 
    -No seeming cultural loans or genetic connections between Saami and farmers.

  21. windy, 
     
    No I didn’t mean that the Saami arrived first then other Finnic speakers, rather Finnic speakers arrived second – after the people who make up the maternal side of the Saami. The Finnic speakers who partially replaced the original males, became Saami – as in Saami are a mixed population. Others unmixed Finnic speakers were just that. But I think there could have been more than one wave of Finnic speakers who moved into Finland. These later ones, plus some of the earlier ones, encroached on the agriculturalists. 
     
    Otherwise you would have to posit a different reason why Finnic males mixed with non-Finnic females in Central Finland – what would that be?

  22. The Finnish male-female differential histories in Central Finalnd, are probably similar to the situation in much of South America – Spanish descent males, and Amerindian females. 
     
    The only other alternative would be an Iceland like scenario, where Finnic males capture non-Finnic women and take them to settle in Central Finland – like the Vikings taking Irish and British women to Iceland – is that plausible?? 
     
    The final theory would be for some disease agent or environmental hazard to differentially smite non-Finnic males – did bubonic plague do this?? 
     
    Did non-Finnic males go a viking and die off, leaving their non-Finnic womenfolk to shack up with Finnic males?

  23. Of course, I forgot that Finnic females might have been selected against for some reason…

  24. in lieu of any obvious historical explanation, i suspect differences in the mutational, migrational, selective and drift parameters on the two loci (Y and mtDNA) might explain the differential at least as parsimoniously.

  25. Yes, drift is important to consider: it’s possible the Saami are simply extremely bottlenecked NE Europeans instead of remnants of “paleolithic basques”. 
     
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1181943

  26. But I think there could have been more than one wave of Finnic speakers who moved into Finland. These later ones, plus some of the earlier ones, encroached on the agriculturalists. 
     
    Could you please explain when these “waves” are supposed to have happened? There are certainly recent “waves” of Finnic people to what’s now Finland, some fleeing Slavs (the latest major such wave was 60 years ago, with another lesser one about… now), but these are waves of Finnic agriculturalists moving to regions already populated by Finnic agriculturalists and Baltic-Finnic people moving to Saami areas. Putting things on a timeline is the best way of seeing whether an idea makes any sense. 
     
    If Finnic people are confusing, this can expressed in relative terms through contacts to other languages. Eg. Germanic loans are good for this: they start from proto-Germanic and have gradually built up from various Germanic languages as they branched and developed (this includes ancient loans from non-Scandinavian branches of Germanic), with no gaps – and they appear specifically in Baltic-Finnic and Saami languages. These would be unlikely to come from anything else than interaction over the Baltic Sea, so any last replacement Finnic-speaking wave to the Baltic Sea area from somewhere else has to be at least as old as proto-Germanic.  
     
    The only other alternative would be an Iceland like scenario, where Finnic males capture non-Finnic women and take them to settle in Central Finland 
     
    No. There are plenty of other scenarios. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the population of the eastern Baltic Sea region came together from intense contacts between two groups, a non-agricultural Finnic and some other, agricultural one (certainly Baltic if this is close to the real world story). There would be a long period of relative neighbourhood (non-agriculturalists tend to be mobile) and ethnic “occupational” segregation wherever there’s close coexistence before the eventual dominance of one language in an area. Eventually, as the cultural influence would spread, in the more remote regions knowledge learned from the agriculturalist society would produce a strongly influenced but still Finnic agriculturist society before language domination by the new arrivals had time to build up. 
     
    The agriculturalists could’ve easily had a 10:1 advantage in numbers. So, if 10 % of the men in the non-agricultural part would have been consistently marrying females from the other part, it would mean just a 1 % difference for the agriculturalists’ gender balance – not even noticeable for them, but *huge* for the non-agriculturalists. This would rapidly dilute the “original” maternal lineages of the non-agricultural population. Of course, that’s just some stuff I just made up, but the point is that assuming interaction by populations with a major number imbalance, it’s easy to cook up scenarios on an interaction that leaves the smaller drastically altered in some way and the larger population never noticing that something happened. (Assuming polygamy, no lack of mating with Finnic women has to be assumed. Or female infanticide – “outsourcing” the burden of raising females. Or perhaps there was a difference in the difference of male and female life expectancies in the societies. Or…) 
     
    It’s easy to come up with just-so stories for how such an imbalance could’ve come about. For example, one advantage hunters have over subsistence farmers is that hunting also produces stuff for trade – furs would’ve been extremely desired and constantly getting more valuable with the spread of agricultural populations, as their settlements tend to drive down the wild animal population and drive up human numbers (ie. demand). So, while someone from the upper classes of an agricultural society would be much more prestigious than any hunter, an average farmer near the northern edge of where you could survive on known agriculture couldn’t have competed in producing tradeable “income” with an average hunter. This is an advantage for the males. Or, perhaps, the non-agriculturalist would have been able to offer better food security than primitive agriculture first arriving in the north – again, an advantage for a male in the mating game. Or, perhaps there was a relative difference on how big of a burden raising females was seen to be to a family in the societies. If the agriculturalists viewed females as a larger burden, they would’ve believed in bigger dowry; if the Finnic people would not have considered women such a great burden, the agriculturalists would have been chuckling while unloading females to those dolts who are too dumb to ask to get paid properly for marrying their daughters. Finnic women would have similarily had trouble marrying the agriculturalists, if their own society believed in lesser dowry and didn’t provide so much of it. Or… 
     
    Even if they’re just-so stories, the situation is far from anything where you could declare “the only alternative”.

  27. Still later small groups of agriculturalists, expanding out of Scandanavia or some other area to the West moved into the Western and Southern parts of Finland and settled it more intensively. 
     
    Agriculture did not arrive in Finland from “the west”, it came from the east, the south and the west (“agriculture” isn’t a single package). Finland is a large place by European standards, there’s lots of room for arrivals from different directions to live apart and thus what *Finnish* shows does not necessarily apply to all of *Finland*, but the vocabulary clearly shows that the culture that came to dominate Finland first borrowed the bulk of agricultural concepts from speakers of Baltic languages. 
     
    And note that Finnish has old Baltic loan words related to farming, but Saami does not. 
     
    Well of course not, if the Saamis didn’t become farmers! There are certainly Baltic loanwords in Saami languages. Of course, many of those have reached them through the southern Finnic languages. 
     
    So the contact must have occurred earlier – we don’t know where, but for simplicity we could assume Balts + Finnics merger in Finland or close by. 
     
    Actually, we do know where. There seems to be some sort of reinventing of the wheel going on when people stare at gene results. There’s also some weird Finnocentrism going on here – what happened to Estonians, Livonians… all the Finnic people on the other side of the Gulf of Finland? Or the now extinct Finnic populations? Why is anyone trying to explain relations between Finns and Balts while ignoring them? That’s probably about as sensible as trying to explain why North Americans today tend resemble continental Europeans without ever mentioning the British. 
     
    Back to the basics: The Baltic languages were once spoken on a much wider area, especially to the east in today’s Belarus and Russia (eons before the areas became Slavic). The Finnic languages were also spoken on a much larger area, at least to the north and the east of the Baltic-speaking area and somewhat further to the south than today on the Baltic Sea. There are Baltic loanwords as far as in the remaining Finnic languages near the middle Volga, closer to the Urals than Latvia. The most intense contacts would have happened on the southern side of the Gulf of Finland, but the whole contact zone would have been very wide.

  28. So the contact must have occurred earlier – we don’t know where, but for simplicity we could assume Balts + Finnics merger in Finland or close by. 
    jaakkeli: Actually, we do know where. There seems to be some sort of reinventing of the wheel going on when people stare at gene results. There’s also some weird Finnocentrism going on here… 
     
    Yeah, I stated that badly – I meant that the contact need not have occurred in present-day Finland, but if someone finds it easier to imagine, that might be a start. But we should be, like you said, thinking at least about the whole Eastern Baltic zone: 
     
    “Y-Chromosomal Diversity Suggests that Baltic Males Share Common Finno-Ugric-Speaking Forefathers” 
    Human Heredity 2002;53:68-78 
     
    http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Aktion=ShowAbstract&ArtikelNr=57985&ProduktNr=224250&Ausgabe=228324

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