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September 20, 2004

Demic diffusion and China

There is an important new paper on China out, Genetic evidence supports demic diffusion of Han culture:

Here we show, by systematically analysing Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA variation in Han populations, that the pattern of the southward expansion of Han culture is consistent with the demic diffusion model, and that males played a larger role than females in this expansion.

In Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond assumed demic diffusion as the Chinese people expanded during the Neolithic due to population growth. But several years before Diamond's book, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza had published data in his magum opus The History and Geography of Human Genes which showed that Northern Chinese clustered with Mongols and Koreans while Southern Chinese clustered with Southeast Asians (using autosomal markers). In The Real Eve Stephen Oppenheimer reaffirms Cavalli-Sforza's finding from his survey of mtDNA & NRY studies that came out after The History and Geography of Human Genes was published, even though he acknowledges that based on phenotype one would have expected a closer relationship (his wife is Chinese, so he devoted a chapter to the topic of East Asian origins, making a few personal remarks and references). But as we noted earlier, neutral markers and phenotype can point in different directions because of selection at functional locii.

Via Dienekes.

Posted by razib at 01:49 PM