Thursday, February 14, 2008

The lamentations of their women - the movie?   posted by Razib @ 2/14/2008 02:40:00 AM

Roger L. Simon reviews a new Russian film, Mongol, which is a biopic of Genghis Khan. See the trailer. If you want a fictionalized, but relatively accurate, narrative of Genghis Khan's tale I suggest Pamela Sargent's Ruler Of The Sky (Sargent extrapolates into the blank spaces of his life to fill out the story, as opposed to making things up to add "spice" in contradiction to the spirit of what we know). Why post about this on a weblog generally science-focused? The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols:
We have identified a Y-chromosomal lineage with several unusual features. It was found in 16 populations throughout a large region of Asia, stretching from the Pacific to the Caspian Sea, and was present at high frequency: ∼8% of the men in this region carry it, and it thus makes up ∼0.5% of the world total. The pattern of variation within the lineage suggested that it originated in Mongolia ∼1,000 years ago. Such a rapid spread cannot have occurred by chance; it must have been a result of selection. The lineage is carried by likely male-line descendants of Genghis Khan, and we therefore propose that it has spread by a novel form of social selection resulting from their behavior.

Certainly a way to make population genetics interesting to a particular subset. In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World the author argues that the world conqueror's success was in large part owed to the fact that he marginalized his extended family and promoted an inner circle of loyalists on the merit of their talents (e.g., Subutai). But subsequently to this first generation direct line descent from Genghis Khan became the "gold standard" across much of Eurasia for who could ascend to power; ergo, the inference by some population geneticists that the Mongolian modal haplotype derives from Genghis Khan.