Wednesday, March 25, 2015

East Eurasians: Ones you don't know about

East Eurasians aren't what you're thinking of right now, at least not entirely. I'm not referring to the Han Chinese, Japanese, Tibetans, Mongols or Southeast Asians exclusively here but the genetic entity/ grouping that prevails all over East Asia, Southeast Asia, pre-colonization Australia, the Pacific & even the Americas, Siberia, Central Asia & South Asia to some extent.

Japanese People

Above are essentially a people who epitomize what we all tend to think when we hear East Asian, and indeed ethnic Japanese, Han Chinese, Tibetans, Thai, Filipinos, Mongols & so on share in a strong genetic affinity for each other/ gross amounts of extremely ancient (pre-historic) shared ancestry & one may not be shocked by this based on their physical similarities (Phenotype).


What about the Andaman Islander man above with his child? Would you ever equate them genetically/ group them with East or Southeast Asians? 

Would it at all shock you if I told you that man and his child are closer to Japanese people than they are to Yorubas in West Africa or Dinkas in East Africa or Norwegians in Europe or Armenians in West Asia? Well, it's true... 

In fact that man and his child are not alone in their shared ancestry with East Asians being perhaps unexpected by some... Australian Aboriginals, Papuans, various Pacific Islander peoples & so on are all East Eurasians or in some papers such as more recent ones; Eastern Non-Africans (a naming that makes more sense since all of their home regions don't exactly correspond directly with what is known as the Eurasian continent).

Don't buy it? Well, the prolific and quite revolutionary study headed by Iosif Lazaridis [1] that studied ancient genomes from across Europe and utilized  low coverage data from individuals like MA-1 in Siberia to grant us a glimpse at European and frankly also West Eurasian ancestry clearly shows this data. That boy and what I assume is his father are from the Andaman Islands inhabited by groups such as The Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa & so and so. That boy and his father are Jarawas & the following woman- :

-is an Onge and please do take a clear look at what Onges are within this diagram of where various Human populations branch off from:

Native Americans like the Karitiana are known to now be a composite between Ancient North Eurasian (related to West Eurasian components like Western European Hunter-Gatherer) & East Asian-esque ancestry from several thousand years ago [2]. And that diagram is essentially saying what we've known for quite some time in population genetics; that the Onge branched off from the same source as East Asians like what makes up ~60% of the Karitiana's ancestry.

Regions of the Pacific Islands

This holds true for Pacific Islanders such as Melanesians, Polynesians and so on. Melanesians are known for having developed their own mutation for blonde hair [-] for example whilst being dark skinned and to your likely Western Culture raised eyes to looking African-esque:

Naturally Blonde, no European or West Asian admixture...

Pacific Islanders  have been studied-> even having as I recall a peer-reviewed paper dedicated to their autosomal DNA [3] and it finds the following clear data:

As you can see many groups across the Pacific Islands (colored orange & grey for example) prove closest to or the show greatest amount of affinity for East Asians like those from Taiwan though the Taiwanese often show an affinity for Southeast Asians whom they are linguistically similar to.

In fact here's a Papuan man:

And here is an Australian Aboriginal man:

I'm sure if you saw them across the street you'd associate them with 'Africa' (thinking they were "Black") and associating them genetically more with Japanese man or a Tibetan or a Filipino would be the last thing on your mind... But that is how things are, these two men's pre-historic ancestors branched off from a shared point of ancestry with East Asians' ancestry (the majority of both their ancestries anyway) Lazaridis et al. would for example dub Eastern Non-African or many know as East Eurasian.

In fact, on average, Papuans, Australian Aborigines and many Pacific Islanders show the weakest leanings toward Africans in a world population genetics sense. They are in terms of whole genome variance the most distinct/ "distant" from non-West Asian admixed (Horn Africans like Somalis, Habeshas etc.) continental Africans:


Yorubas are a Nigerian ethnic group who prove rather soundly representative of many Niger-Congo speaking groups across West Africa, for example; but, as you can see, Papuans prove more distinct from them than your average Frenchman or Han Chinese individual would (thought not by too much), though all these Human groups are nowhere near as distinct from each other as they are from a Neanderthal or Denisovan, for example.

Although it's assumed that the reason Papuans and Aborigines are somewhat more distinct is because they have a notable amount of Denisovan admixture just like many Eurasians, Americans and Eurasian admixed Africans at large have a very tiny but notable amount of Neanderthal admixture [11] with even Yorubas showing above zero (decimal range) levels of Neanderthal admixture. [5] The study that variance table is from even focuses on how they have Denisovan admixture... [4]

The admixture and how Papuans and Aboriginal Australians branched off from the "sub-source" as East Asians is demonstrated quite adequately in this following tree-mix owed to David Wesolowski (author of Eurogenes):

To give you an example in words: all Humans pretty much branched off from one shared point and it's thought that the Khoisan & African pygmies like the Mbuti branched off much earlier than the shared ancestry of the rest of us. Then, for example, Eurasians as I once explained diverged from an East African-related source and then that Proto-Eurasian source had various divergences one of which is Basal Eurasian which diverged from it earlier and then became isolated from other Eurasians (this is what's assumed, at least).

After that Ust-Ishim likely diverged from the shared ancestral point or state between East Eurasians & West Eurasians (majority of the ancestry in Europeans & West Asians, though they all have Basal Eurasian input) before or just when East & West Eurasian themselves diverged. [10] Onge, Australian Aborigines, Papuans, Melanesians like that dark skinned blonde boy/ their ancestors all supposedly diverged from "East Eurasian/Eastern Non-African" and so did the majority if not the entirety of the ancestry in the Japanese, Koreans, Tibetans and so on. 

Diverging to some extent from this point of ancestry not only through means like genetic drift but also through some Denisovan admixture which East Asians like Tibetans do have (though less than Papuans have). [6]

This ultimately slaughters the notion that these people are "Black" or somehow "African". Sure, all Eurasians (counting Native Americans and Pacific Islanders) ultimately trace back to Africa but these people do not have any special affinity for Africans or more recent African ancestry.

To be frank, many West Asians and North Africans have non-negligible levels of African admixture to begin with... Northwest Africans can vary between ~20 to ~25% African admixed (mostly East African with some Niger-Congo speaker-related admixture) despite some of their looks. [7] [8]

Moroccan man (Northwest African)

To be honest, even old-school racialists from the early modern period did not consider people such as those in Australia to be "like Africans" and didn't use the term "Negroid" to describe them. They instead dubbd them "Australoid" (their own "racial" classification). I normally don't laud these old racialists at all but here we agree in that even in terms of looks you can tell some of these people are not, for example, West-Central African or non-Cushitic admixed (Maasai [9]) Nilotic speakers. Instead their looks only superficially resemble those of Dinkas, Igbos, Madinkas and so on.

Find me a straight haired naturally blonde Igbo and we'll talk but I can find you a straight haired dirty blonde Australian aboriginal quite easily:

Even in terms of facial features and "physical morphology" there are clear distinctions to be made between these boys and some average Yoruba children but one shouldn't expect such aptitude from someone that's not an anthro-nut such as myself or people I am familiar with.

The big question here might be "Well, why do they look this way?" I mean sure, some only superficially resemble certain Africans (Africa's a big place with a lot of diversity and I'd be careful about referring to it as a monolith) but look at that Andamanese man & the child; they have nappy hair... They could pass in some places across Africa especially to layman eyes.

Well, I honestly do not know why they look the way they look but it's not input/ admixture from Africa or even a kind of Quasi-African (Basal Eurasian-esque) influence if even that could ever cause such looks-> I can only give you educated guesses like:

Natural Selection, bottle-necking or suffering through a Founder Effect [-] to make certain looks prevail grossly all of a sudden, there are tonnes of variables that play into this and their ancient ancestors may have looked nothing like this-> for all we know they all once resembled East Asians or even West Eurasians before these various East Eurasian (East Asian ones being counted) phenotypes developed.

But these peoples such as Papuans are East Eurasians plain and simple, perhaps with some Denisovan (a separate species of the genus Homo) admixture but by majority (little over ~95%) East Eurasian/ Eastern-Non-African in ancestry with a higher variance from Africans like Yorubas than you'd see from a Frenchman presumably thanks to their Denisovan admixture otherwise they'd likely be as varied from Africans as the Han & French are.

A world PCA showing you how they plot/ cluster with East Asians and much more distantly from non- Eurasian admixed East Africans or Niger-Congo Africans:

To consider these people "Black" in layman modern terms or like Africans is very disingenuous as they're closer to East Asians than anything else and closer to Europeans than a random Niger-Congo speaking non-Fulani African would be. Their looks, to me, really slap the idea of "racialism" in the face if one wishes to base it on phenotypes/physical-appearances as these people and East Asians like Koreans are closely related at least within the wider scheme of global diversity yet their looks are so starkly distinct.

Reference List:

6. Altitude adaptation in Tibetans caused by introgression of Denisovan-like DNA, Huerta-Sánchez et al.


1.  Southeast Asian genetics is a lot more complex then I hinted at in this blog post but I'll try to have a post out about it in time. If not I'll just say that for now it seems like certain Southeast Asians clearly have something of a South Asian-esque influence, from something akin to what Reich described as Ancestral South Indian (ANI) in an old peer-reviewed study form nearly seven years ago. F.e. Eurogenes K=8 lists a component similar to this as "South Eurasian" (Cambodians are composed of this by practically ~50%) to really get this component we'll need ancient genomes from South Asia though and South Eurasian as Eurogenes has it and "ANI" from Reich's study aren't exactly the same thing. ANI being a component that peaks in some of the southernmost populations of India such as the Paniya.

2. The bits on how Humans diverged is grossly over-simplified but it serves just fine in getting the point across for this blog post's subject matter.

Other genetics based literature on the Andamanese:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Armenians: The result of Bronze Age mixing between various populations

Some notable Armenians throughout history

This new study, Haber et al. seems to say some things about West Asian genetic history via Armenians. It posits the idea that a good part of the pre-Islamic Near East would have perhaps been more similar to Early European Farmers than many modern Near Easterners who are Muslim are.

The most interesting part about what they find is to some extent represented by the following tree-mix diagram:

The idea that modern Armenians who have to their eyes been a genetic isolate in West Asia for about ~3000 years since the Bronze Age, share a certain segment of their ancient ancestry with Early European Farmers (practically ~30%) however I should note that tree-mixes shouldn't be taken too incredibly seriously in that they don't concretely tell you that this population experienced gene flow from that population.

If you're having a hard time grasping my point there at the end then observe the following tree-mix courtesy of Davidski (author of Eurogenes) made upon my request:

Now, Stuttgart is just like Iceman; an Early European Farmer which would essentially be a Neolithic West Asian with a sizable amount of Western European Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) input.

It's of course completely preposterous that Stuttgart or people exactly like him contributed ancestry to Somalis & Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) who for the time being don't look to have any Western European Hunter-Gatherer input (which makes sense) but rather for now more or less just Early Neolithic Farmer ancestry which is what Stuttgart and Iceman would look like if they were bereft of their WHG admixture.

Linguistic map of the Caucasus

The tree-mix is more or less just picking up on ancestry in Somalis & Ethiopian Jews and likely even Armenians that is at least similar to the majority of the ancestry you would find in an Early European Farmer.

Since all of these populations via Eurogenes' analysis (which actually gets very very similar levels to what we're finding in peer-reviewed studies if we're talking levels of Ancient North Eurasian & Western European Hunter-Gatherer ancestry as well as being close to Lazaridis' estimates for how WHG admixed individuals like Stuttgart likely were) come up with a very sizable segment of West Asian ancestral input similar to the majority of what's in Early European Farmers like Iceman & Stuttgart.

West Asian = Early Neolithic Farmer/ Near Eastern in Eurogenes K=8. The levels of West Asian ("Eurasian" or "West Eurasian") admixture for Somalis are essentially not different from what you'd find in Gudrasani et al. or Pickrell et al.

I personally think they should have focused more on using ancient genomes like MA-1/ Mal'ta boy who for now represents Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) best; as you can see there's actually a certain decent segment of ANE admixture in Armenians and in fact the majority of their Caucasian neighbors as well as Iranians (i.e. Persians & Kurds) & Turks.

I even spoke about this in some other length in a former post. If non-native West Asian input in Armenians is to be properly investigated; then a good amount of focus should be placed on Ancient North Eurasian however Armenians are not exactly like some of the various populations above.

As the paper infers:

"The Armenians are a culturally isolated population who historically inhabited a region in the Near East bounded by the Mediterranean and Black seas and the Caucasus, but remain underrepresented in genetic studies and have a complex history including a major geographic displacement during World War One. Here, we analyse genome-wide variation in 173 Armenians and compare them to 78 other worldwide populations. We find that Armenians form a distinctive cluster linking the Near East, Europe, and the Caucasus. We show that Armenian diversity can be explained by several mixtures of Eurasian populations that occurred between ~3,000 and ~2,000 BCE, a period characterized by major population migrations after the domestication of the horse, appearance of chariots, and the rise of advanced civilizations in the Near East. However, genetic signals of population mixture cease after ~1,200 BCE when Bronze Age civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean world suddenly and violently collapsed. Armenians have since remained isolated and genetic structure within the population developed ~500 years ago when Armenia was divided between the Ottomans and the Safavid Empire in Iran. Finally, we show that Armenians have higher genetic affinity to Neolithic Europeans than other present-day Near Easterners, and that 29% of the Armenian ancestry may originate from an ancestral population best represented by Neolithic Europeans."

Armenians according to this paper much like some of the Christian and Jewish populations of West Asia (and Egypt) have to some great extent maintained the genetic structure of the pre-Islamic as well as pre-Arabization populations of West Asia. Obviously Caucasians never went through intense Arabization the way the ancestors of the Lebanese, Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians & Egyptians did but they like them look to be a representation of the pre-Islamic and even pre-Turkic expansion West Asians in the area.

There's barely a difference between Armenians and Turks fundamentally however Turks have clearly gone through a certain influence from Central Asian Turkics via their linguistic shift as the paper itself notes:

"Previous genetic studies have generally used Turks as representatives of ancient
Anatolians. Our results show that Turks are genetically shifted towards Central Asians, a pattern consistent with a history of mixture with populations from this region.

Though I should note that this shift and this admixture is not at all very great. The overwhelming majority of the ancestry in modern day Turks is centered solidly in West Asia and Anatolia to my knowledge.

At any rate the genetic structure of various West Asians being somewhat based on culture (religion, linguistics etc.) is not a new fact or idea, we've known about this for example in the case of the Levant for quite some time now, it was Marc Haber himself who even headed that Levant based study.

Cyprus is often included but this map doesn't highlight it

However this isn't the first time that pre-Islamic, pre-Arabization or "pre-Turkization" isolates have shown an affinity for Early European Farmers.

In fact as far back as nearly 2 years ago with the revolutionary Lazaridis et al. ; Ashkenazim were found to while they had a certain gross amount of West Asian ("Near Eastern") ancestry that could not be explained by Early European Farmer input: did ultimately show Early European Farmer admixture and a shift toward Southern European populations such as central (Tuscan) & southern Italics (i.e. Sicilians) as well as Greeks:

An affinity shared by various members of their clearly genetically supported ethno-religious group [4].

"While our three-way mixture model fits the data for most European populations, two sets of populations are poor fits. First, Sicilians, Maltese, and Ashkenazi Jews have EEF (Early European Farmer) estimates beyond the 0-100% interval (SI13) and they cannot be jointly fit with other Europeans in the (SI12). These populations may have more Near Eastern ancestry than can be explained via EEF admixture (SI13), an inference that is also suggested by the fact that they fall in the gap between European and Near Eastern populations in the PCA of Fig. 1B. (figure above)."

Cypriots as well share in this pull toward Italics and Greeks and a bit of a heightened Western European Hunter-Gatherer level.

At any rate; the paper finds that Armenians prove more similar to Early European Farmers than many present day West Asians do:

 "Most shared ancestry with the Iceman is with Sardinians and other Europeans (Supplementary Figure S3). This is directly followed by shared ancestry with some Near Eastern populations: Cypriots, Sephardic Jews, Armenians, and Lebanese Christians. Other Near Easterners such as Turks, Syrians, and Palestinians show less shared ancestry with the Iceman."

I can't help but think this might be due to some of the more divergent input in some of these populations such as Turks, Syrians and Palestinians? Levantine Muslims are often anything between ~5 to 15 African admixed [5] whilst Turks have a higher proportion of Ancient North Eurasian ancestry than Armenians, Lebanese Christians or Sephardim, then they top this off by having known East Eurasian (ENA/ Eastern Non-African/ East Asian) input via the Central Asian gene flow they've received.

All of that likely differentiates Turks, Syrians & Palestinians even more given that they were affected by things such as the Arabian conquests and Arabization alongside the acquiring of more heightened African (mostly East African) admixture perhaps via the very same process (Syrians and Palestinians) or a linguistic shift to Turkic (Turks). This is ultimately why they find Armenians to be a better representation of ancient Anatolians (a region they were largely & tragically displaced from) in my humble opinion.

To be honest this is not truly new data (the idea that isolates like Armenians or Lebanese Christians are representations of the more ancient populations in their area) but it ultimately has some intriguing things to say about Armenian genetic history and how Armenians according to their findings are the resulting of mixtures that occurred as early as the Bronze age, whilst I wish they'd looked more deeply into their Ancient North Eurasian input.

The development of modern Armenians

To close I think I'll touch upon their findings with the Tree-mix one more time:

"We then ran TreeMix allowing it to infer only one migration event, and revealed gene flow from the Iceman to Armenians accounting for about 29% of their ancestry."

Again, this tree-mix test shows that Armenians have a certain sizable affinity for Early European Farmers which is to be expected if only ~40% West Asian admixed Somalis can show an affinity for one as well. But to me that's all the tree-mix shows-> an affinity and their finding that populations like Armenians are more similar to Early European Farmers than for example Turks are is more easily explained by what I said earlier.

To give yet another example of how these tree-mixes can sometimes just be showing an affinity for the ancestry in an individual and not actual gene flow from a source exactly like them (I personally find the WHG levels in Armenians to be a bit too low for sizable input from Early European Farmers):

I'm assuming some of you have read my blog post on Basal Eurasian and its presence in the West Asian/ Early Neolithic Farmer non-WHG admixed ancestry in Early European Farmers? Well, it's at best Quasi-African for the time being but that tree-mix finds the East African cluster ancestry in the Hadza (which to me and others is likely a less divergent African lineage admixed version of the East African in Anuaks, Dinkas, Somalis, Ḥabeshas & the Gumuz) is similar enough to the Basal Eurasian component's affinities to make it look like there was gene flow from a Hadza-like population into Stuttgart...

Reference List:

4. The genome-wide structure of the Jewish people, Behar et al.


1. If you're wondering about the "migration" lines pointing from a Denisovan-esque source into Papuans and Australian Aborigines then you should know that such gene flow is quite legitimate and these East Eurasians are known to have such input: Denisova Admixture and the First Modern Human Dispersals into Southeast Asia and Oceania, Reich et al.

Recommended read: 

The Near East ain't what it used to be, Eurogenes blog

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Oromo people: Heterogeneous

The Oromo people (Oromo: Oromoo; Ge'ez: ኦሮሞ, ’Oromo) are the single largest Cushitic speaking group in not only Northeast Africa but the entire world, outnumbering Somalis by the millions. They are Ethiopia's largest demographic to this day and inhabit its largest state of which the Capital of the country which acts as both a city and a state is centrally located within, they number into just a little over 32 million people by 2013 estimates.

The Oromia Region

Speaking a Lowland East Cushitic language (Afaan Oromo) with various dialects and derivatives; they weren't always this populace or at least this geographically prominent.

Mapping of Oromos' greater spread, breaking through national borders

The original Oromo speakers/ tribes were actually centered according to various sources speaking of the medieval to early modern Horn of Africa-> in Eastern Ethiopia where the Somali Region is now dominant, more specifically in the Southeasterly regions of Eastern Ethiopia, generally areas where the Jubba & Shebelle rivers drain.

However between the 15th to 17th Centuries CE , these agro-pastoralist tribes began to boldly expand inward into Ethiopia, conquering and assimilating in their wake with systems like their Gadaa acting as keen assets in these expansions, they even had their own pre-Islamic monotheistic belief system centered around the God Waaq, also shared by some pre-Islamic Somalis and perhaps even Afars among other groups.

They've been written about or mentioned by a plethora of writers of Ḥabesha, general Islamic-world, Portuguese and perhaps even Somali origins, many of whom encountered the fruits of their expansions one way or the other. In fact the Oromo tribes did once attempt incursions into Southern Somalia only to be pushed back by the dominant political entity of the time; the Ajuran Sultanate.

One can consult the following writers' works on the expansions if they wish to:

 Abba Paulos

Along with the Conquest of Abyssinia (Futuḥ Al-Ḥabash) by Shihab ed-Din speaking about the short-lived Islamic conquests of Abyssinia or even the chronicles of individuals such as Emperor Susenyos of Ethiopia.

The migrations were seemingly at first sporadic raids into the hinterlands that in time grew into what they were; migrations. At this time roughly in Ethiopia, the historically Muslim and mostly Somali soldiered but demographically multi-ethnic Adal Sultanate & the Abyssinian Empire ("Ethiopian Empire") who were Ethiopia's main political powers dominating different areas of what is now the modern state, had more or less bled each other into utter weakness after a terribly bloody war

Arab Slave Trade map showing the Ajuran & Adal realms

The eventual Oromo expansions are by some considered to have acted as a death blow to the Adal in particular, it and the Abyssinians along with other states in Ethiopia at the time proving too weak to prevent many of these Oromo expansions.

But this blog post is not so much about the expansions but rather the genetic impact they had on modern Oromos. You see, Oromos assimilated numerous "Horner" (Cushitic & even Ethiopian Semitic) peoples throughout their expansions. From Amharas to even Sidamic speakers, Rendilles, possibly even Agaws and in some instances Somalis.

 A prime example of this I could share for now would be Sidamics (Highland East Cushitic speakers) such as Hadiya & Sidama people who once were the progenitors of prominent Islamic states in inland Ethiopia such as the Hadiya Sultanate. These groups were once known to have been spread across the modern Ethiopian provinces of Bale & Arsi and even North Shewa only to in some of these areas be supplanted and outright assimilated by expanding Oromo speakers.

"While Bale was the first Ethiopian province, Imam Ahmad Gragn conquered after the Battle of Shimbura Kure 1529, Emperor Geladewos quickly recovered it after the Imam‟s death. However, the territory eventually became the possession of the Oromo people that had begun settling there as early as the Mudana gadaa (1530-1538), and Bale disappeared as a distinct entity by the middle of the next century. The peoples of Hadiya-Sidama who was already Muslims predominantly occupied the ancient state of Bale. One of my informants (himself an Arsi Oromo) completely disagrees with this saying. Yet, Braukamper mentioned that the region of Gadab, which is located in the western Bale, belonged to Hadiyya and was occupied by various subgroups of this people, whose Oromized descendants (for instances, the clans Doodaa, Weegee, Caatimannaa, Adamoonyee, Wosharminaa, and many others) still live there."[5, page 24]

The Hadiya Sultanate actually titled its rulers with the term "Garad" (Somali: Garaad, Arabic: الجاراد ) , an aristocratic title interchangeable with "Sultan" historically mostly known to have been used by Somalis (often along the Northern coast) as well as Muslim peoples in Medieval Ethiopia such as the Hadiya among other groups. And there indeed were seemingly diplomatic and cultural exchanges between the Hadiya entity and the Adal for example until the Hadiya became stalwart Abyssinian loyalists.

What this ultimately does to Oromos, this history of assimilation and expansion, is that the modern ethnic group is in fact made up of various historically & genetically distinct groups even with its current constituents being utterly unaware of this (many are not aware to my knowledge). Now, the populations of the Horn of Africa are quite closely related but indeed there are distinctions between them to be made.

That PCA plot (Principal Component Analysis)/ cluster based on autosomal DNA data above is a prime example of their heterogeneous nature. In terms of admixture levels within Pagani et al.'s original samples carried on by Hodgson et al. , Gudrasani et al. & Pickrell et al. among other papers; there are three subsets of Oromos.

One I like to dub "Oromo A" is Agaw-like in terms of fundamental admixture levels and clusters as you can see above at the fringe of the Northern Ethiopian Highland cluster with Xamir Agaws ("Afar" samples), Tigrinyas & Amharas whilst another group (Oromo B) clusters completely (overlapping) with Somalis demonstrating identical fundamental admixture levels with them to perhaps just a bit more West Asian admixture for some who straddle between us and Northern Ethiopian Highlanders.

The other is less West Asian admixed than Somalis and plots off with Wolaytas or even as one shows; proves almost less admixed than the majority of Wolaytas who can at times be comparable to Somalis in admixture levels. This group would be the Borana who are actually the least West Asian admixed Horner group tested so far.

You can even view this data quite accurately with an ADMIXTURE analysis:

Once again, one Oromo subgroup (Oromo B) is fundamentally identical to Somalis (based on more ancient and fundamental ancestral components), another comes close to Beta Israels (former Western Agaws) & the other would be Boranas, less admixed than Oromo Bs and Somalis.

The genetic data we have so far on Oromos clearly supports what the historical data tells us, that this ethnic group is an amalgamation of various distinct groups within the Horn of Africa it assimilated over the centuries. However... There are things all three of these Oromo genetic subgroups seem to share in common (something that sets them apart from other Horners).

They're all, for one; the peak of Omotic admixture among the so far tested Cushitic & Ethiopian Semitic speaking populations in the Horn of Africa:

Now, components like "Early Neolithic Farmer" or "Near Eastern" from Eurogenes K=8 or the "West Eurasian" or "Eurasian" (essentially West Asian) admixture mentioned in Pickrell et al. & Gudrasani et al. with levels much like Eurogenes' results or the East African cluster from various studies are more basal to the admixture in the Horn and show you how these groups fundamentally look in terms of more ancient (i.e. Neolithic) ancestry, corresponding more with how we plot in PCA plots however there are less ancient components in the Horn made up of these more ancient ones. 

These newer components would for example be Omotic, Ethio-Somali (representing "shared Cushitic ancestry") and so on. 

A good way to grasp this would be-> fundamentally a Somali & a Tigrinya are barely different, there's practically just a minor ~10-12% difference and that's in levels of admixture not even in that one population has ancient ancestry the other lacks. However, in terms of actual more recently shared ancestry as this older post outlines; Somalis & Tigrinyas share about ~60-70% of their more recent to perhaps post-Neolithic ancestry.

Now, that's still a lot of shared ancestry but, for example, some of the West Asian admixture in Tigrinyas while it is fundamentally the same as the admixture that was already in them (in "Cushitic") and that is in Somalis; is ultimately ancestry they have that Somalis don't.

I as an ethnic Somali do not have Omotic ancestry, I carry East African cluster based ancestry with some West Asian admixture (two dominant components of Omotic itself) but a Tigrinya has about ~12% on average Omotic ancestry and I as a Somalian Somali have virtually no "Omotic" Ari Blacksmith-like ancestry, thereupon my Tigrinya "relative" clearly has post-Neolithic ancestors I lack despite the fact that if you go back far enough (i.e. the Neolithic); some of these ancestors would share a common origin with the basal components in me and that are shared between myself and Tigrinyas nevertheless.

In that respect lies the main differences between our ethnic groups despite our fundamental similarity surpassing that between your average Tuscan and your average Englishman or your average Syrian Jew & your average Georgian.

Oromos, at least the ones who've been tested so far (not just in these studies) seem to be quite a peak for Omotic admixture in the Horn of Africa, something they all share in common over the rest of us despite their differing admixture levels.

Also engrossing would be that Y-DNA Haplogroup E-V32, a very prominent marker among ethnic Somalis (the most prominent actually) is very prominent among modern Oromos:

Somalis are also Lowland East Cushitic speakers, it is compelling to say the least that the two groups ("close linguistic relatives") share in this marker's prominence. Some such as a colleague I correspond with suggest sensibly that this maybe a mark of the "original Oromo tribes", a very probable notion as linguistic & cultural shifts of this nature almost always leave some form of a genetic impact.

A basic explanation of Haplogroups for more layman readers

This would suggest most to many modern Oromos do ultimately trace some segment of their ancestry back to the peoples who linguistically shifted them away from whatever Cushitic or at times even Ethiopian Semitic language they originally spoke to Afaan Oromo.

Nevertheless, this ethnic group with its history of expansions and assimilation proves quite heterogeneous genetically, lacking the homogeneous and inbred nature of ethnic Somalis or even the homogeneity you'd find among Beta Israels & Tigrinyas. One colleague whom I often cite in my blog posts as being someone I frequently correspond with about genetics and history (same one I mentioned earlier) went so far as to consider them "More of a Cultural Group" rather than a traditional ethnicity such as Tigrinyas or Somalis.

I'm inclined to agree. But keep in mind that the peoples who were assimilated to form the modern ethnic group are essentially already closely related peoples (as all Horners seemingly are) so it's not like some Azeris went and assimilated Bengalis & Moroccans but rather that Saudis would have assimilated Lebanese individuals and Yemenite Jews. Still a clear distinction to be made but relatively close peoples anyway; genetically, linguistically & culturally but in the end many Oromos have ancestors from just a few centuries ago who likely wouldn't have spoken a single word of Afaan Oromo or any of its dialects and derivatives.

Reference List:


1. This is also why I tend to sadly keep Oromos out of things like the averages of shared ancestry in my blog post about the shared ancestry between the so far tested groups in the Horn. Studies like Pagani et al. & Hodgson et al. don't divulge the results of single individuals within these populations, they just share general averages. Therefore it's really impossible to give someone an accurate look at the results for each Oromo subgroup within their sample sets. I didn't at all keep them out to "disregard" what is a very important demographic within the Horn of Africa.

2. Notably, Pagani et al. noticed this Oromo heterogeneity and even had two subsets of Oromos in this PCA plot (Oromo 1 & Oromo 2).