© Reuters/Paul Hackett
Two-thirds of modern-day European males trace their genetic roots to just three Bronze Age forbears,
who almost literally launched the "population explosion" many centuries ago, a new DNA study suggests.
Before coming to this conclusion, a research team from the University of Leicester analyzed the DNA sequences of 334 modern European men from 17 different European and Middle Eastern populations, focusing on the large portions of the Y-chromosome passed exclusively from fathers to sons.
Their findings were published in the Nature Communications
After that they compared the DNA from each population in order to trace the key mutations in the genomes and find out when they might have occurred. Such an approach allowed the scientists to trace paternal lines down through a long period of history.
One mutation they found originated around 4,750 to 7,340 years ago and is prevalent in Norwegian and Orcadian populations. The second occurred between 3,700 and 6,500 years ago and has spread throughout Spain, Italy, France, England and Ireland. The third dated from about 3,470 to 5,070 years ago is prominent in the Sami in Lapland, Norwegians, Danes and Friesian populations in the Netherlands, as well as being found in France, Hungary, Serbia and Bavaria, the study reports.
According to the researchers, these three paternal lines account for about 63 percent of modern European men. That means that from 371.25 million males currently living in Europe around 233 million are descendants of just three men, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Those branches of the European genetic tree are fairly young, which suggests most modern populations settled in Europe only after the spread of farming during the Neolithic era, rather than during the period of hunter-gatherers moving across the continent in the Paleolithic era, as previously thought.