Friday, June 10, 2016

Omotic speakers: Y-DNA & mtDNA data

As I've stated in the past; I don't tend to dig into Y-DNA & mtDNA data very much but I thought it'd be a good idea to have Omotic speakers' Haplogroup data in one place dedicated just to that very purpose. So, here goes:

Above is a low-resolution example of their Y-DNA copied from Ethio-Helix. But, to be fair, the sample size (~2,385 samples) is quite massive and thus grants us representative images for each ethnic group (100-130 samples per group) in regards to their frequencies for certain Haplogroups.

I.e. The above chart doesn't tell us exactly which subclades of J are most common among the Shekecho or what have you but it's probably pretty representative of their frequencies for  J, E (xE-V95) and A-M13 in general.

 But, Ethio-helix did ultimately, from what I understand, get his hands on more higher-resolution results for at least one of the 20 Omotic speaking ethnic groups in the former chart and that'd be the Maale, as you can see above. The Maale live in the SNNP region of Ethiopia where most Omotic speakers can be found and where the Omo river, which the Omotic branch is named for, can also be found.

If they're at all "representative" then we can assume other Omotic speaking groups in the SNNP region and elsewhere probably have a good amount of Y-DNA E-M329, a subclade of E-V38 which is lightly found in populations such as Amharas and Oromos who seem to show Ari Blacksmith-like admixture on an autosomal level.

E-M329 is also the Y-DNA Haplogroup of the Mota-man... The first ancient genome from Africa to be published who was named for the Mota cave in the SNNP region, where he was found. He also shares a lot of drift with Aris (Blacksmiths & Cultivators) so this seems like what might be a hallmark Y-DNA Haplogroup among Omotic speakers who are currently concentrated within the region (SNNP) where Mota was discovered.

The other markers are interesting as well such as the Maales' E-M34, a subclade of E-M35, which is also found in populations such as Oromos and Amharas (see here) who have notable admixture from peoples very similar to Ari Blacksmiths in terms of autosomal DNA so I can't help but wonder if Omotic speakers in the Horn were key in spreading this marker, and if most of these Omotic speaking populations are, in terms of autosomal DNA, quite similar to Aris.

At any rate, I won't go into much more detail beyond that because this post, like this older post on Somali mtDNA, is more about sharing the data rather than explaining or pruning through it.

 Now, we unfortunately don't have mtDNA data, even at a low-resolution, for several ethnic groups as we do for Y-DNA data but we do have 137 Dawro-Konta samples and 11 Hamer samples. Both Omotic speaking populations from the Horn whose data Ethio-Helix had shared long before I did but I decided to compound their results together to create the pie chart above.

There would be too much to drone on about if I decided to sincerely pry into the mtDNA data so I'll leave it at that but one thing worth noting is that Mota's mtDNA Haplogroup was L3x2a and, as can be seen above, L3x (and though no further subclade is divulged, at least from what I recall... I'm betting there's some L3x2a in there given that this marker already exists in modern Ethiopia, to my knowledge) is quite common among Omotic speaking groups such as the two groups I compounded together.

This, the overlap in Y-DNA E-M329 and the notable levels of shared drift between Mota and the Ari lends some clear credence to the notion that various Omotic speaking populations may in large part be descended from people related & very similar to the ~4,500 year old Mota-man.

I'll be quite interested in seeing more Haplogroup data, particularly more high-resolution results, on Omotic speakers in the future.

Reference List:


1. As much I've somewhat done this myself in the past and even with this post (somewhat, anyway)... I'll stand by what I wrote in a recent post in that "Linguistics is linguistics & genetics is genetics". I.e. I would not advise people to take a 1:1 stance when looking at how much a group's genetic profile will correlate with the language they speak (and also what language family or branch that language is of). One of the populations present in this post (Wolaytas), is seemingly, on a rather basal level, more similar to Oromos and Somalis than to Ari Blacksmiths. Wolaytas also look to have a lot of admixture from Habesha~Agaw-like people as noted here.

So, don't expect "Omotics" to be some sort of homogeneous genetic block simply because they're Omotic speakers or even be extremely similar once we have autosomal DNA data (as well as more high-resolution Haplogroup data) on all these ethnic groups. Though some clearly notable related-ness already seems apparent. Languages and genetic profiles can definitely correlate and one can compliment our understanding of the other quite a bit but it's important to refrain from an over-the-top 1:1-ing of the two.


  1. From the presence of J* I think at least part of the west eurasian like ancestry in some Omotics predates the west Eurasian ancestry in Cushitics/habeshas. And they speak the most divergent languages in the afro asiatic family.

    1. Yes, their J*, J1 & J2 has always confused me, truth be told. I was somewhat always of the opinion that J in general was tacked onto Semitic speaking Afro-Asiatic speakers later rather than being something that was present very early on among AA speakers whom I figured were mostly dominated by E-M35 lineages but these Omotic speakers put some real dents into that.

      I don't know about other Omotic speakers (Wolaytas aside) but Ari Blacksmiths' West Eurasian ancestry looks very similar to the stuff in Somalis. As in, very "ENF" / "Southwest Asian" looking rather than showing notable signs of "CHG-like" elements which, to me, tends to be a sign of later West Eurasian influences in the region. In fact, their West Eurasian ancestry seems even more "old" than what's in Somalis because Somalis often show notable "Mediterranean" / Anatolian Neolithic/EEF-like elements in various ADMIXTURE runs but Ari Blacksmiths don't tend to (I'm focusing on the Blacksmiths because, unlike the Cultivators, they have extremely little to almost no Somali-like admixture). It, on an autosomal level, looks like real old school Near Eastern ancestry so it's quite strange that their dominant West Eurasian Y-DNA marker is J, I'll be honest.

      I.e. Check here:

      At K=5 you'll notice that, like the other Cushitic and Ethiopian Semitic speaking Horn Africans present (+Wolaytas), Somalis show some yellow "European"-like admixture alongside the brown "Arabian" element but the Ari Blacksmiths' West Eurasian elements seem entirely "Arabian" like once the cluster forms at that K. Think this says something about how old their West Eurasian admixture is buuut this is just one Omotic speaking population who may or may not be quite representative of most of the others whose uniparental data is made available in this post. We'll see in due time. :-)

      But you're roughly right about their language branch, yeah. Omotic split first, basically. As a good linguist friend of mine has explained and I noticed by myself via some papers.

    2. Well now I'm actually a bit more confused than before due to the new study (an awesome study at that). Does it appear that the J haplogroup largely entered Levant much later? If so, how in the world did these Omotics with old school near eastern (likely from neolithic Levant) poses J haplogroup?

      There probably was a population that mixed with the ancestors of Somalis and other horners and missed the Ari (likely other omotics as well) from further north that in turn possessed a more recent Levant admixture that contained chg. But man that J is really interesting.

    3. It is pretty interesting and confusing, yes. And it does, for the time being, seem to look like J was tacked onto the Levant and possibly even the Arabian Peninsula later on by peoples with Neolithic Iranian-related ancestry from more northerly areas of West Asia. Whilst E-M35, T & H might've been most of the Levant back during the Neolithic and Epipaleolithic. We'll see with more and more samples in the future.

      "There probably was a population that mixed with the ancestors of Somalis and other horners and missed the Ari (likely other omotics as well) from further north that in turn possessed a more recent Levant admixture that contained chg."

      Possibly, yes. Or, particularly in the case of the new elements in Somalis, carried some extra WHG/Villabruna-related admixture that made these new West Eurasians a bit more similar to the Neolithic Anatolian samples. Can't wait until we have these genomes to fiddle with and more and more samples are published. :-)