Sunday, November 27, 2011

Venezuelan Maternal Ancestry Mostly Native American

We analyzed two admixed populations that have experienced different demographic histories, namely, Caracas (n = 131) and Pueblo Llano (n = 219). The native American component of admixed Venezuelans accounted for 80% (46% haplogroup [hg] A2, 7% hg B2, 21% hg C1, and 6% hg D1) of all mtDNAs; while the sub-Saharan and European contributions made up ∼10% each, indicating that Trans-Atlantic immigrants have only partially erased the native American nature of Venezuelans. A Bayesian-based model allowed the different contributions of European countries to admixed Venezuelans to be disentangled (Spain: ∼38.4%, Portugal: ∼35.5%, Italy: ∼27.0%), in good agreement with the documented history.

From here (hat tip to Dienekes).

Thus, approxmiately 80% of the matrilineal ancestry of urban Venezuelans was Native American, 10% was African (presumably descendants of women brought to the New World in the slave trade), and 3.8% is Spanish, 3.6% is Portugese, and 2.7% is Italian.

One would expect that the patrilineal ancestry of Venezuelans (and also autosomal ancestry which is derived from all ancestors, rather than merely the patriline and matriline ancestors) would have a much larger Southern European component. Also, by implication, the percentage of urban Venezuelans who have exclusively European ancestry is less than (and probably significantly less than) 10%.

The Native American component, consistent with other studies of Native American mtDNA in North American and in Latin America, shows less genetic diversity than many North American Native American populations. It remains unclear how much of that difference is due to serial founder effects and how much is due to the impact of possible subsequent waves of migration to the Americas that did not penetrate to Central and South America in significant numbers.

It is also reasonable to expect, given historical patterns of colonization in Venezuela, that the Native American component of rural populations in Venezuela is probably larger than the population in two of its largest cities.

This data point also supports the frequent reality that a paternal superstrate population can give rise to language shift even in the absence of a large maternal genetic contribution.

1 comment:

Maju said...

"3.6% is Portugese"...

C'mon! You can't thread so thinly: they are probably comparing some Portuguese with some Spaniards (a much larger state and hence quite more heterogeneous) and found that there is almost as much connection with Lisbon as with Madrid. So they are mostly from Extremadura and surroundings, I guess, as were Pizarro and Cortés and so many other "conquistadores" (and humbler but equally ruthless settlers).

"... a paternal superstrate population can give rise to language shift even in the absence of a large maternal genetic contribution".

Of course. But it is even more complicated. The political and socio-economical dominance is the key: if you were a purebred Native American and you adopted Spanish language and customs, you became a Mestizo (regardless of ancestry) and went up the social scale (with lots of potential in the long run for your descendants).

Native Americans often considered that Mestizos were people without roots and that is in fact the essence of all expansive ethnicities like Spanish, Arabs or Chinese: to uproot all those who fall in their identity trap and assimilate into a quite shallow but linguistically homogeneous identity. Not all ethno-linguistic groupings are equal: some have deep roots and are usually small, compact and endangered, while others have shallow roots and are typically large, empty and expansive, being the ethnic tool of states and empires.

So there were many ethnicities early on in what is now Venezuela but Spanish superseded all them. Even the last Native groups of the Orinoco are too fragmented and weak to pose any challenge to the hegemony of Spanish.

Instead in the Andes the Quechua and Aymará languages used by the Incas and their predecessors were strong enough to even grow significantly on the back of the success of the Castilian Empire.

That is not the case of Mexico or Guatemala, with similar native ancestry apportions, where the Native languages are all very fragmented and marginalized instead.

It's not a mere matter of genetics, regardless that it may be of some influence indeed, but a matter of which language becomes a true practical tool. This is often determined by which is the language of the political, military, religious and commercial elites, as farmers, who used to make up the vast majority, are generally fragmented and powerless.