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Bichara's Paternal Ancestor's Migration Route

(courtesy of The Genographic Project)

Migratory Route of Bichara's Male Ancestors 

Bichara's Genetic History

Your Y-chromosome results identify you as a member of haplogroup J1.

The genetic markers that define your ancestral history reach back roughly 60,000 years to the first common marker of all non-African men, M168, and follow your lineage to present day, ending with M267, the defining marker of haplogroup J1.

If you look at the map highlighting your ancestors' route, you will see that members of Haplogroup J1 carry the following Y-chromosome markers:

M168 > M89 > M304 > M267

Today, modern members of this haplogroup live in the highest concentrations near its ancestral birthplace in the Middle East, as well as in Arabia, North Africa and Ethiopia. M267 is also seen in Mediterranean Europe, though at much lower frequencies.

What's a haplogroup, and why do geneticists concentrate on the Y-chromosome in their search for markers? For that matter, what's a marker?

Each of us carries DNA that is a combination of genes passed from both our mother and father, giving us traits that range from eye color and height to athleticism and disease susceptibility. One exception is the Y-chromosome, which is passed directly from father to son, unchanged, from generation to generation.

Unchanged, that is unless a mutation—a random, naturally occurring, usually harmless change—occurs. The mutation, known as a marker, acts as a beacon; it can be mapped through generations because it will be passed down from the man in whom it occurred to his sons, their sons, and every male in his family for thousands of years.

In some instances there may be more than one mutational event that defines a particular branch on the tree. This is the case for your haplogroup J, since this branch can be defined by two markers, either M304 or 12f2.1. What this means is that either of these markers can be used to determine your particular haplogroup, since for every individual that has one of these markers, he also has the other. Therefore, either marker can be used as a genetic signpost leading us back to the origin of your group, and guiding our understanding of what was happening at that early time.

When geneticists identify such a marker, they try to figure out when it first occurred, and in what geographic region of the world. Each marker is essentially the beginning of a new lineage on the family tree of the human race. Tracking the lineages provides a picture of how small tribes of modern humans in Africa tens of thousands of years ago diversified and spread to populate the world.

A haplogroup is defined by a series of markers that are shared by other men who carry the same random mutations. The markers trace the path your ancestors took as they moved out of Africa. It's difficult to know how many men worldwide belong to any particular haplogroup, or even how many haplogroups there are, because scientists simply don't have enough data yet.

One of the goals of the five-year Genographic Project is to build a large enough database of anthropological genetic data to answer some of these questions. To achieve this, project team members are traveling to all corners of the world to collect more than 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous populations. In addition, we encourage you to contribute your anonymous results to the project database, helping our geneticists to reveal more of the answers to our ancient past.

Keep checking these pages; as more information is received, more may be learned about your own genetic history.

Your Ancestral Journey: What We Know Now

M168: Your Earliest Ancestor

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: Roughly 50,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Africa

Climate: Temporary retreat of Ice Age; Africa moves from drought to warmer temperatures and moister conditions

Estimated number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 10,000

Tools and Skills: Stone tools; earliest evidence of art and advanced conceptual skills

Skeletal and archaeological evidence suggest that anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago, and began moving out of Africa to colonize the rest of the world around 60,000 years ago.

The man who gave rise to the first genetic marker in your lineage probably lived in northeast Africa in the region of the Rift Valley, perhaps in present-day Ethiopia , Kenya, or Tanzania, some 31,000 to 79,000 years ago. Scientists put the most likely date for when he lived at around 50,000 years ago. His descendants became the only lineage to survive outside of Africa, making him the common ancestor of every non-African man living today.

But why would man have first ventured out of the familiar African hunting grounds and into unexplored lands? It is likely that a fluctuation in climate may have provided the impetus for your ancestors' exodus out of Africa.

The African ice age was characterized by drought rather than by cold. It was around 50,000 years ago that the ice sheets of northern Europe began to melt, introducing a period of warmer temperatures and moister climate in Africa. Parts of the inhospitable Sahara briefly became habitable. As the drought-ridden desert changed to a savanna, the animals hunted by your ancestors expanded their range and began moving through the newly emerging green corridor of grasslands. Your nomadic ancestors followed the good weather and the animals they hunted, although the exact route they followed remains to be determined.

In addition to a favorable change in climate, around this same time there was a great leap forward in modern humans' intellectual capacity. Many scientists believe that the emergence of language gave us a huge advantage over other early human species. Improved tools and weapons, the ability to plan ahead and cooperate with one another, and an increased capacity to exploit resources in ways we hadn't been able to earlier, all allowed modern humans to rapidly migrate to new territories, exploit new resources, and replace other hominids.

M89: Moving Through the Middle East

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: 45,000 years ago

Place: Northern Africa or the Middle East

Climate: Middle East: Semi-arid grass plains

Estimated number of Homo sapiens: Tens of thousands

Tools and Skills: Stone, ivory, wood tools

The next male ancestor in your ancestral lineage is the man who gave rise to M89, a marker found in 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans. This man was born around 45,000 years ago in northern Africa or the Middle East.

The first people to leave Africa likely followed a coastal route that eventually ended in Australia. Your ancestors followed the expanding grasslands and plentiful game to the Middle East and beyond, and were part of the second great wave of migration out of Africa.

Beginning about 40,000 years ago, the climate shifted once again and became colder and more arid. Drought hit Africa and the grasslands reverted to desert, and for the next 20,000 years, the Saharan Gateway was effectively closed. With the desert impassable, your ancestors had two options: remain in the Middle East, or move on. Retreat back to the home continent was not an option.

While many of the descendants of M89 remained in the Middle East, others continued to follow the great herds of buffalo, antelope, woolly mammoths, and other game through what is now modern-day Iran to the vast steppes of Central Asia.

These semi-arid grass-covered plains formed an ancient "superhighway" stretching from eastern France to Korea. Your ancestors, having migrated north out of Africa into the Middle East, then traveled both east and west along this Central Asian superhighway. A smaller group continued moving north from the Middle East to Anatolia and the Balkans, trading familiar grasslands for forests and high country.

M304: The Spread of Agriculture

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence:15,000 to 10,000 years ago

Place of origin: Fertile Crescent

Climate: ice age ending

Estimated number of Homo sapiens: Millions

Language: Unknown — earliest evidence of modern language families

Tools and Skills: Neolithic Revolution

The patriarch of Haplogroup J was a descendant of the M89 Middle Eastern clan. He was born between 15,000 to 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, a region that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers form an extremely rich floodplain. Today the region includes all or parts of Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

The descendants of this man played a crucial role in modern human development. They pioneered the first Neolithic Revolution, the point at which humans changed from nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled agriculturists.

The end of the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago, and the subsequent shift in climate to one more conducive to plant production probably helped spur the discovery of how to grow food.

Control over their food supply marks a major turning point for the human species: the beginning of civilization. Occupying a single territory required more complex social organization, moving from the kinship ties of a small tribe to the more elaborate relations of a larger community. It spurred trade, writing, calendars, and pioneered the rise of modern, sedentary communities and cities.

The M304 marker appears at its highest frequencies in the Middle East, North Africa, and Ethiopia. In Europe, it is seen only in the Mediterranean region.

An important subgroup of haplogroup J includes the descendants of another man from the M89 Middle Eastern clan born in the Fertile Crescent at about the same time, carrying the marker M172. This related haplogroup is called J2.

The early farming successes of these lineages spawned population booms and encouraged migration throughout much of the Mediterranean world. In fact, both haplogroup J and its subgroup J2 are found at a combined frequency of around 30 percent amongst Jewish individuals.

M267: Mediterranean Migrations

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: About 10,000 years ago

Place of origin: Fertile Crescent

Climate: Moderate Mediterranean, conducive to agriculture

Tools and Skills: Early agricultural skills

The M267 haplogroup arose in the southern Fertile Crescent, perhaps in what is now Iraq, about 10,000 years ago. In this post-Ice Age era the region had a very fertile climate, which helped to feed the growth of early agriculture and, with it, the foundations of settled human communities.

The first man to exhibit the M267 marker was probably an early agriculturalist. During successive generations, his descendents would carry the lineage through much of the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa.

The M267 lineage was widely dispersed by two major waves of migration. The first occurred some 10,000 years ago during the region's Neolithic period. The homesteading farmers of this era spread out from the Fertile Crescent into the welcoming lands of Europe, Ethiopia, and even farther afield.

More recently, during the golden age of Islamic expansion, some descendents of the original M267 spread to North Africa and to Europe's Iberian Peninsula. The Moors, North African peoples of Berber and Arab origins, carried both their faith and their culture on conquests of the Iberian Peninsula, northwest Africa, and beyond. Their genetic impact on Spain, however, was relatively small.

Modern members of this haplogroup once again live in their highest concentrations near its ancestral birthplace in the Middle East, as well as in Arabia, North Africa, and Ethiopia. M267 is also seen in Mediterranean Europe, though at much lower frequencies.

The haplogroup also carries a strong cultural connection—many of its members with European ancestry are Jewish. More than half of all J1 samples in the Genographic database are Ashkenazi Jews, revealing a genetic connection to the Middle Eastern homeland of Judaism.

This is where your genetic trail as we know it today, ends. However, be sure to revisit these pages. As additional data are collected and analyzed, more will be learned about your place in the history of the men and women who first populated the Earth. We will be updating these stories throughout the life of the project.