Friday, October 31, 2008

ABC and DNA

The Phoenicians, perhaps best known for establishing the modern alphabet, were also prolific progenitors. A new study demonstrates their exceptional lineage: "as many as 1 in 17 men living today on the coasts of North Africa and southern Europe may have a Phoenician direct male-line ancestor." Advances in genetic analysis are revealing new insights into human history and migration.

Perhaps new analysis will raise a challenger to Genghis Khan's supremacy as history's greatest progenitor. The fearsome Mongol ruler is thought to have roughly 16 million modern descendants. The current challenger, 12th century Celtic hero Somerled, is thought to have a relatively puny 500,000 descendants (the author likely among them). As if that wasn't bad enough, Somerled, historically credited with pushing the invading Vikings out of Scotland, was recently demonstrated to have possessed a Norse Y-chromosome.

(image credit: an ancient Phoenician coin, wikipedia.org)