Biogeography adds dimension to ancestry
Environmental Settings of My Ancestors

I chose my paternal genetic lineage to depict the biogeographical setting of my ancestors because of its trace ability through Y-Chromosome (Y-DNA) testing. It provides a deep view of paternal ancestry as each generation of fathers pass on intact copies of their Y-DNA to their sons over the ages of time. In this case, my haplogroup O originated during the middle Stone Age.

Figure 15
The Stone Age

Stone Age Timeline

Stone Age remains have been uncovered of early modern humans, such as Yuanmou Man, who inhabited China 1.7 million years ago in the Yuanmou area of present day Yunan Province. As early as 200,000 years ago modern humans are estimated to have lived in China and both my maternal and paternal ancestral lines stem from Paleolithic environs. Much is being learned of their cultural patterns, lifestyles, and population migratory patterns.

Life in the Paleolithic period meant my earliest ancestors had to contend with thick year-roundice sheets, frigid climate, and dwindling hunting and foraging spaces. To keep warm in the cold climate,they would be wrappped in animal skin. They would take shelter in the warmth of caves, staying near themouth of the cave where it would be lighter for better vision. Where no caves existed, they built temporary shelters from branches, leaves, and animal skins. As hunters and gatherers they made crude tools and weapons from stone and bone, stone axes, and carved wooden spears for hunting and fishing, which they cooked over fire. They also gathered edible plants, fruit, and collected eggs from bird nests. A single killof a woolly mammoth would provide a clan with food for months.

Paleolithic people were also the first to leave behind art. They used combinations of minerals, ochres, burnt bone meal and charcoal mixed into water, blood, animal fats and tree saps to etch humans, animals, and signs. They also carved small figurines from stones, clay, bones and antlers.

My such ancestors are classified genetically as Haplogroup O. They originated in the Stone Age during the time of the Last Glacial Maximum of the Ice age, ~30,800 years ago in the East and Southeast area of present day China where researchers are finding the skeleton remains of prehistoric Asians as well as new archaeological and paleoclimate data. This is also the area of origin of my earliest genetic ancestors. Hereafter I will refer to them as ancestors for reading ease.

Interestingly, with the advent of the Neolithic Period 18,000 years ago the matriarchal clan society existed in China. It was a social system in which the mother was head of the family and descent was traced through the mother's side of the family.

The dimension of the world of my early ancestors included living among other types of human beings, which is relevant to my genome. At some point, my ancestors encountered these other archaic humans and not unexpectedly, interacted with them. Both Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA markers are present in modern Asian populations, including mine. My genome includes 1.4% Neanderthal and 1.8% Denisovan.

Figure 16

Neandertal-Denisovan image

Neanderthals and other humanids, such as the Denisovans had long interbred with Asians as noted in this video. Deniovans wandered Asia for hundreds of thousands of years and remained in existence as recent as the time of my ancestors. Their genes are found in modern East Asian populations and the Oceanic islands and records show Denisovans interbred with early modern humans in Southeast Asia, particularly among the modern residents of the Pacific islands, including the Philippines and New Guinea. "As a result of ancient interbreeding, people living today on islands of Southeast Asia and Oceania have genomes with up to 6 percent Denisovan DNA." Furthermore, Clare Wilson points out "Our species may have been interbreeding with Denisovans as recently as 15,000 years ago." To that end, genetic analysis uncovered a direct descendant of two different groups of early humans with the now proven existance of humans with a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.

A report of the other hominids living along side Neanderthals and Denisovans in southeast Asia can be viewed in this video. A research team led by David Reich discovered at least three major waves of human migration into the South Asia over the past 50,000 years and during that time the anatomically modern hunter-gatherers in Southeast Asia interacted with the ancient human Homo erectus, Homo floresiensis, and Denisovan " populations. Moreover, in addition to (Homo floresiensis) in Fores in indonesia, other hominids lived in the area as well, such as in present day Luzon in the Philippines with (Homo luzonensis). Current evidence suggests that Southeast Asia was occupied by Hoabinhian hunter-gatherers until about 4000 years ago.

Figure 17
Homo luzonensis

It might have been the harshness of ice age weather or global cooling that drove both animals and man south and prompted my ancestors continued southern migration. My early ancestors also lived in a time when many of today's Southeast Asia islands were still above sea level. They were connected to the Asian mainland to form a great landmass known as the continent of Sundaland. It was twice the size of India and it stretched east to west from Burma to Borneo and included present-day Malaysia and Indonesia and extended all the way to the Philippines.

Figure 18
Ice Age Asia
with Sundaland above sea level

Ice Age Asia

While the extensive savanna of Sundaland remained above sea level my ancestors would have adapted to this environment and likely settle on the broad riverine flood plains and, in time, integrate with the existing communities.

To summarize, a pattern of genetic variation among my early ancestors would be largely shaped by continued human migration into Southeast Asia. Their journey may have even been overland into the continent of Sundaland, which would not wholly sink under the sea until ~12,000 years ago and possibly separate them from the mainland.

Animation of Sundaland
Slowly Sinking Below Sea Level

Sundaland in Asia Sinking

In essence, beginning with my Holocene ancestor with the O-M175 marker ~28,000 years ago to an ancestor with the O-F996 marker ~10,200 years ago, and to a more recent ancestor with the O-F706 marker, I can conclude my paternal lineage had steadily migrated from mainland present day, China, to include southeast Asia where significant population changes have occurred and is indicative of populations in China, Cambodia, Philippines, and Thailand.

This migration pattern is depicted in Figure 20 as Austronesian population clusters where the relationship between Taiwan’s indigenous languages and those of the south Pacific regions is undisputed. The Austronesian language family spread along with the human migration from Taiwan through the South China Sea into the Philippines, Java, Borneo, and Sumatra. Later migrations included migrations from the South China Sea onto the mainland in Vietnam and the Malay Peninsula.

Figure 21
Pattern of Austronesian Migration
~11,500-4,100 Years Ago

Austronesia Area Map

This pattern is consistent with the archaeological discovery of the Liangdao man 8,000 years ago. It suggests the Austronesian origin into Taiwan from the southeast coast of China. Thus, representing the pre-Austronesian split apart from Austroasiatics in the southeast coast of China ~6,000 years ago and dispersing of the south Chinese rice farmers into Taiwan to become proto-Austronesians.

Adding further support for the pattern are DNA genomes from other prehistoric inhabitants of Southeast Asia 4100 years ago which have been sequenced by teams led by Hugh McColl and Mark Lipson et al. Their progenitors successfully occupied Taiwan, which is commonly thought of as being the watershed of Austronesia and the Austronesian culture, From there they expanded into the Philippines. As Peter Bellwood points out in his work, 2017 Neolithic Cultures in Southeast China, Taiwan and Luzon, China south of the Yangzi can be regarded in cultural, linguistic, and population terms as part of Southeast Asia.

Neolithic is a term meaning “New Stone Age”, or the time period concurrent with the advent of farming and domesticated animals rather than hunting and gathering. For China, this period ranged from ~10,000 to 2000 BCE.

Figure 22
Neolithic Haplogroup O


Current genetic analysis suggests the majority of the people in the Philippines are of Austronesian descent who migrated from Taiwan around ~2000 or so years ago as the result of maritime trade. Similarly, these progenitors have become dominant in Borneo and the Malay Peninsula and furthered the Austronesian expansion into Indonesia ~2100 years ago. This is pertinent to my ancestral surmise.

My most recent marker, A 16139 falls within this geographical location and timeframe (2400-5400 years before present time)

The consensus of my having paternal Austronesian ancestry among the various autosomal and Y-DNA testing providers

Figure 23
Archaeological sites in southern Taiwan, the Batanes Islands, and northern Luzon

Austronesia Area Map

As Hsiao-chun Hung writes in his paper, History and Current Debates of Archaeology in Island Southeast Asia, 2019, he refers to linguistic and archaeological findings in support of the Out of Taiwan (OOT) concept as valid for describing the geographic spread of populations across ISEA from Taiwan. Similarities among the Austronesian speakers of Taiwan and the Philippines and Western Indonesia have been correlated with the migratory routes inferred by phyogeography and archeology in Southeast Asia. An interesting video of How the Taiwanese Aborigines Shaped Modern Asia can be viewed here. The vast area depicted in the Out of Taiwan Model is of interest to my biogeographical ancestral search.

Figure 24
Out of Taiwan Model
Austronesian Expansion into ISEA

Austronesia Area Map


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