Sleeper Agents

Although there are differences, people across northern Europe are not all that different. Fst across the region is surprisingly low. This extends to appearance: although you can notice that Danes don’t look just like Scots, there is overlap, people from group A that could superficially pass for members of group B. Superficially: looking at appearances, not at autosomal DNA. All because the whole area is ( to a large extent) the product of Indo-European invasions, and before that an Anatolian agricultural expansion. The recipe is not all that different over that region.

I think that it would have been harder to infiltrate someone from China into MI6 without anyone noticing.

On an unrelated note, occasionally we have had people suggest or wonder about whether northern Africa, north of the Sahara, had much admixture from sub-Saharan blacks back in Classical times or earlier. We now know, from ancient DNA, that moderately ancient Egypt had significantly less SSA admixture than Egyptians today, and it is reasonable to think that this was probably true of North Africa as a whole. I was already sure of this – because although nearly all contemporary North African populations have a fair amount of SSA admixture ( ~20%), a few have almost none ( < 1%). Key fact: there are several ways to mix two populations, but (without using advanced genetic technology or waiting several tens of thousands of years, in the case of mildly incompatible subspecies like AMH and Neanderthals) there is no way to unmix two populations.

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27 Responses to Sleeper Agents

  1. Unmixing may be done magically by lots of schooling.

  2. Yeah, the northern European gene pool did form due to a WHG admixed Anatolian migration and a Steppe migration. The differences between different populations are relatively small. But there could have been considerable variation within WHG, within Anatolian EFs, within Steppe before they migrated into northern Europe. eg, The Steppe folk who contributed to Lithuanians weren’t exactly the same as the Steppe folk who contributed to Irish.

    Something confusing to me is ‘Eastern Europeans’ like Poles and Russians fit in this genetically defined ‘northern European’ genetic cluster. In fact they actually are the most northern European genetically. I haven’t seen many Slavic speaking Eastern Europeans, ok. But the sterotype in America is that they have a distinct look, that they all look something like Vladimir Putin or even Armenians.

    Also, most Ashkenazi Jews look completely northern European but Sicilians/Southern Italians often look distinctly Near Eastern even though the two are a similar European/Near Eastern mix.

    • I disagree. The genetic clusters that divide Europe broadly correspond curiously to the language division (with some notable exceptions) of the continent. Therefore there would be a ‘Celtic’ genetics corresponding to the Western and Atlantic part of Europe; Germanic (Thus Northern-European), Latin or Romance, Slavic, Basque, etc. But in reality no branch would be more European than another; Although in fact the real Europeans would be the descendant of the first Europeans 35 thousand years ago, but the history is complex and the human colonization of Europe occurred in different waves at different times and although some parts as I said are different from others due to the historical mix / barriers, we are very similar genetically (in general). I recently read an article claiming that most Europeans shared a common ancestor as early as 1,000 years ago.

    • Hoverica says:

      You’re missing some genetic components, which is the cause of your confusion.

      Eastern Europeans have more EHG (Eastern Hunter Gatherer) with ANE (Ancestral North Eurasian), and Southern Europeans have more of the Anatolian EF and CHG (Caucasus Hunter Gatherer). That explains their respective distinct looks. Northwestern Europeans are genetically intermediate between them in PCAs.

      Ashkenazi Jews are Levantines mixed with Italians, Germans and other Europeans and can look like any of those, but mostly they just look distinctly Jewish.

      • Jim says:

        Is it possible that among Ashkenazi Jews there was selection for a less “Jewish” facial appearance? In Central Texas where I live certainly Jews for the most part look little different from non-Jews. Their names may be a clue but rarely their physical appearance.

        I’ve never been to Russia but when I look at pictures of Russians on the internet what strikes me most is how common blond hair is.

  3. dearieme says:

    For Godwin points, I observe that the Nazis had a policy for unmixing Jews and gentiles. Half-Jews were to be killed along with the Jews.

  4. In theory, I think it could be done, but you’d need Brave New World-like total control of reproduction.

  5. sonOfRekab says:

    what are the other 80% of the north african populations?

  6. anon says:

    We wuz North Afrikangs

  7. iffen says:

    If all mixed race (black/white) Americans become black, the mixed race is done away with.

  8. DataExplorer says:

    The Dutch are definitely different just from their height. Id say that Scandinavians tend to have much lighter eyes, Germans tend to have more tan friendly skin, whilst the British and Dutch are both very fair skinned, and often don’t tan at all.

    • dearieme says:

      “The Dutch are definitely different just from their height.” But that’s recent; it’s happened during my adult lifetime. I’ve still to hear a plausible explanation for it.

      “I’d say that Scandinavians tend to have much lighter eyes”: Dad always said we were Vikings.

      “the British and Dutch are both very fair skinned, and often don’t tan at all”: yes, I go red and then my skin peels. On the other hand the sun does bring out the ginger in the hair on my arms. Rather fetching.

  9. ohwilleke says:

    “We now know, from ancient DNA, that moderately ancient Egypt had significantly less SSA admixture than Egyptians today” This overstates the result. The ancient DNA is from a very elite individual in ancient Egyptian society and the inference that this elite individual was typical of ordinary Egyptians is a weak link in the chain of inference. For example, elite marriages in ancient Egypt were often arranged with children of elites as far off as the North Levant and Greece or Mesopotamia. Also, introgression of SSA genetics could easily have started in the lower classes and not reached elites until much, much later.

    • gcochran9 says:

      They managed to get some autosomal DNA from three ancient Egyptian individuals in that study, not one. They had better success with mtDNA (90 individuals). They too looked less SSA than modern Egyptians – fewer L0-L4 lineages.

      Most of the burials involved seem to have been individuals from modest backgrounds [mummification became a thing for the masses] , but I can’t find the details for the three mummies that yielded the autosomal DNA, partly due to poor initial records and then, Bomber Command.

      Moreover, from linkage analysis, it is clear that much of the SSA admixture found in modern Egyptians arrived fairly recently because the SSA-origin DNA chunks are long. A rough estimate would be 700 years ago, but really it was a gradual process rather than a pulse. That by itself clearly indicates that the amount of Egyptian SSA ancestry was smaller, back in the day. I’ll bet money that it was lower still, back in the Old Kingdom.

      Probably in every society in the world today, the amount of SSA ancestry is inversely associated with SES, something like what we see with Amerindian ancestry in Latin America, but why would you assume that was the case back in the day? For that matter, why does it happen now?

  10. westhunt_fan says:

    My spouse has a tiny bit of SSA DNA (0.3%) from an ancestor that must have passed as white. Only 1 of our 3 children inherited it (@ 0.1%). Seems like unmixing to me.

  11. SlushFundPuppie says:

    Just need a wig and some make-up.

    James Bond’s Makeover

  12. FST Differences says:

    Regarding the “sleeper agent” factor, some of this is “selective luck”. Populations across Northern Europe do have similar ingredients in the cake, but there’s also the shared factor of similar environmental selection on height and pigmentation, which seems different than in even Southern Europe. Bone structure differences may not be a lot more shared across Northern Europe.

    Re: Fst, seems like it can be low in fairly even substantial cases of admixture differences between substantially diverged components.

    Examples: English and Spanish. Probably about 25% difference in levels of Steppe vs European Middle Neolithic ancestry, Spanish about 75 MN and 25 Steppe and English about 50:50 of each. Consistent with Spanish being about half derived from Bell Beakers and English being about 100% derived.

    Fst is about 0.003 between this pair. However, Fst between Steppe vs European Middle Neolithic seems to be about 0.045. 0.003 != 0.011, which is what you’d expect if Fst behaved linearly.

    (Fst from England to Ukrainians also about 0.003).

    Another example, Tatars and Russians. Similar ancestry in the ingredients, but slight differences in the proportions: Russians seem approx 0-5% East Asian and Tatars approx 15-20%. Distance of Russia-Han about 0.097, so expected distance to Tatars 0.010-0.015 if Fst behaves linearly. Real distance seems about 0.004.

  13. M. M. says:

    I read that male slaves in Muslim countries were mostly castrated (I guess there’d be exceptions for military slaves). Is there genetic evidence to this with modern North Africans, who supposedly got their SSA admixture from female slaves?

  14. Return of Shawn says:

    “there is no way to unmix two populations.”

    Let’s say 100 generations ago population X, consisting of 50 people, exclusively interbred with population Y, consisting of 10 million people.

    Fast forward to present. Wouldn’t population X get completely absorbed into population Y over time? Or what am I missing?

    • gcochran9 says:

      after adding X, Y’ is now 5 x 10-6th X. over time it will tend to be even mixed into population Y’. The frequencies of genes from the X population will drift randomly – but on average, their frequency stays the same.

      Look, here’s example: Spanish guys and Amerindian women marry, have kids. Population is 50-50. After some time, the mix is fairly uniform – each individual is close to 50% Spanish and 50% Amerindian. Now how could start with those people and produce someone that’s 100% Spanish? There is no way, barring gene surgery.

      • Return of Shawn says:

        Thanks for the explanation.

        I think I just interpreted your what you wrote differently.

        Here’s what I was getting at, using your example:

        2nd generation: 50% Spanish and 50% Amerindian, 3rd: 75% Spanish and 25% Amerindian, 4th: 87.5% Spanish and 12.5% Amerindian, and so on until it’s unmixed back to 99.9999…% Spanish. Of course, the original 50% Spanish and 50% Amerindian population would have to be dwarfed by the 100% Spanish population in order for that to happen.

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