Are the ancestors of the Irish the Basque

+4 votes

This article uses DNA and says yes.

While at it a Pictish SNP has been found: R-S530

And by the way, the Irish hero who drove the Norse out of Ireland was not only part Viking himself, but his name in Norse is Sumarliði (sumarlidi, and means summer raider or summer pirate see Scandinavian Britain, Collingwood and York,1908,Reprinted by Univ of Toronnto.

in Genealogy Help by Living Farrar G2G6 Mach 1 (15.0k points)
Maybe the DNA SNP is a new find but the theory is an old one. In fact, I thought it was well-accepted that Ireland was settled by sea-faring migrants from the Iberian peninsula.

1 Answer

+3 votes
Pretty much all of Europe was first re-settled after the ice age from pockets of southern Europe, such as Iberia. Those weren't the Basque people, though. The Basque and most European men today are R1B, which originated on the Asiatic steppes and invaded later.

I believe R1B-L21 is prevalent both in the Basque region and also Ireland (and Wales, Scotland, England, and Brittany), which perhaps points to a common Celtic origin if you accept the term Celtic as a genetic group and not just a language group.

I have no idea of R1B-L21 first went south to Iberia, picked up some boat culture, and then went to the British Isles, or went there independently.
by Davis Simpson G2G6 Mach 2 (23.3k points)
I agree that it would be highly unlikely but it's certainly happened. If you have a mutation ever 150 years in a single line, so every 6 generations, then that's the same as one mutation sneaking in for every 6 children. Considering each generation has millions of children, it probably happens all the time.

However, you would be unlikely to see it because how many brothers get Big-Y tested.

Now 2 brothers getting the same mutation would be effectively impossible.

But this conversation seems to be more like are diverging lines really because 2 sons had different snps than the father. Very certainly not, no. Some son had a mutation and some descendent of his managed to be very successful at procreation. And then some 10x or 20x or 50x great-grandson of the original father did the same. Meanwhile in there, as you said, countless variations got lost because those sons were less successful at procreation.
Davis, you said that it certainly happened (that two sons of one father, have different mutated SNP's)


If it has happened then there are documented cases of such happening.

Do you know of any, or is this a thought exercise in probability? That is, "it can happen, therefore it has happened, but knows not where or when"

I on the other hand take the view that such an event is highly unlikely, after all SNP's are not STR's and although  such things happen in STR's, it would be an error to think that what happens to STR's can also happen to SNP's..


My thought exercise is " that the probability of a father producing two sons each with a new unique SNP is so unlikely that it has never happened."  But life is full of surprises.

Statistically, it seems inevitable. If you roll a die and every six or seven times a mutation comes up, it’s a simple probability exercise. As far as actually proof, how  many men have even had their fathers or sons tested and know which of their private snps occurred with their generation or occurred with an earlier generation? Almost no one. At this point we have almost no data. Maybe when it becomes very cheap.

That’s assuming it’s completely random, as well. If it’s not completely random, but affected by something environmental or age the it’s even more likely siblings could each have their own mutations.


I am skeptical that you can equate genetic mutations to a probability. Damn things happen when they happen, outside the laws of probability.


That link you provided, mentions the growing idea that environmental influences and even personal habits influence mutations of DNA.

23andme certainly believes so, as do insurance companies, as they have an intense interest in personal habits and environmental influences.

I'venoticed that some males have a lotof success breeding males, and in a few cases, nothing but males, and lots of them, others not so much.

Then again I have read that personal habits, like tight underwear, riding horses, alcohol inhibits or weakens the Y sperm.

I have also read that if a persons grandfather (which one, there are four) suffered starvation or lack of food when he was young, his grandchildren would have an increased lifespan.


I have a brushing acquaintance with statistics. I aced it in my undergraduate and graduate work, but like all things if you don't use it, you lose it. And I have had no use for statistics in my personal or professional life since the 1970-1980's

I am aware that if you flip a coin half the time it is supposed to come up heads (or tails), but I have a personal experience that defies the odds, and it is ongoing.

I wear socks that are made for right and left foot, and so marked.  I do my own laundry. When I start folding clothes, I have to look inside the cuff of the socks to make sure that I am not putting two rights or two lefts together.

Now here is the thing. Virtually all of the time, I will pull two socks out and both will be left or right. The left sock shows up most often (left or right are inside the cuff). Statistically this isn't suppose to happen, but it happens virtually all of the time. One exception, and I remember it because it is so rare, I pull out on first try a left and right sock. All the socks are the same color.

There is a TV show, American Pickers. Mike, who owns the business, invariably gets in a situation with a customer, and is asked to flip a coin.

The coin is good, Mike always chooses heads and he always loses. His partner, Frank, on the other hand, almost always wins. Mike has compensated by deferring the coin toss to Frank

Mathematics and probability are one thing, reality is another.

Would that Big Y testing was cheap.A a particular SNP, associated with a man born in 1583 has been identified,  all persons who trace their genealogy to this person, share this SNP and some NPE's as well (pleasant surprise for them, well mixed blessing) because that ancestor arrived in 1618 and is the patriarch of a well documented line, but there is an NPE in the family tree.

Problem for some lineages is the brick wall. They can trace back, say to 1800, but then nothing, but DNA says that this man who arrived in 1618 is their ancestor.  Their tree looks like this 1618......................1800

Would or could a father produce sons with different terminal SNP's.

"Terminal SNP" is an artefact of a particular scheme of analysis.  Which is basically a scheme for ignoring almost everything and trying to extract something useful from what little we can afford to process.  It's highly artificial.

Approximate analogy - too hard to write a program that can read a book and understand it, but if you only want to classify the book, you could maybe just take the 10th word of each page and do some crude clustering.

So yes, it's unlikely that two sons would both have unignored mutations.

But my point was, a scheme for classifying the DNA of living people isn't useful or appropriate for tackling questions like where the Irish came from.  Because most of the first Irish people don't have any living y-descendants.  The hypothetical y-descendants they would have had would have unknown and unclassified y-DNA.

Sykes wowed the world with Ursula, but it was all a bit of a con, because people didn't get it.  There was nothing special about Ursula.  She had sisters and cousins like everybody else.

Ursula is defined by the mt-extinction of all the cousins whose mtDNA was similar to hers, though not directly descended.  Of which there must have been many at one time.  But they weren't mt-descended from any of the Seven Daughters and they aren't in the chart.  The Seven Daughters are merely an artefact of a classification system designed for living people, not for human mtDNA in general.

Not to intrude into this marvelous conversation, but... RJ, while I generally agree with some of what you've said, it breaks down a bit when you include mtDNA into the conversation.

Our friendly little organelle contains a grand total of 16,569 base pairs in its DNA molecule. Not millions, thousands. As DNA goes, the whole thing isn't even large enough to register as a single segment if we were to plop in down onto, say, chromosome 8 and look for it with our current direct-to-consumer autosomal DNA testing technology.

Included in those scant 16.5K base pairs are a single regulatory region and 37 genes that code for 13 polypeptides, 22 tRNAs, and two rRNAs. These account for over 80% of the 16.5K base pairs. Mutation can't mess much with that regulatory region and those 37 genes without causing a big ouchy to the host human cells.

That's why, after the mtDNA genome was sequenced, initial testing of mtDNA for population genetics was limited to tiny areas at the very start and the very end of its circular structure. The non-coding Hypervariable Regions were so called because they could be, well, variable: free to change without botching up some really important piece of transfer RNA, for example. Now, why the Hypervariable Region at the beginning of the mtDNA structure is called HVR2, and the one at the end of the structure is called HVR1...well, there have to be some mysteries, I suppose.

Anywho... Only a little over 3,000 base pairs in mtDNA are not directly involved in the regulatory region and the 37 do-important-stuff genes. HVR1 and HVR2 account for 1,144 of those.

In aggregate, the parts of the mtDNA genome that can safely mutate and form novel SNPs is ridiculously small. And it's the same mtDNA that's been with us since we crouched in the Great Rift Valley in Africa and marveled at having opposable thumbs...never dreaming that the anatomical oddity would lead to an obsession with using smartphones for everything.

The sparsity of genetic material (as well as heteroplasmic frequency and the sheer number of the little buggers in our bodies, on the order of 595.2 trillion) is one reason that I've never considered mtDNA very fertile ground for genealogy. Can be a useful tool to disprove an hypothesis, but as a means in and of itself to confirm a genetic match it's quite weak. Still only four nitrogen bases, and adenine still bonds with guanine, cytosine with thymine. The world population clock says there are 7.6 billion of us alive right now. There simply isn't enough possible variability in the tiny mitochondrial DNA molecule to differentiate to any genealogically granular level among the population. Your mother and my mother might be an exact match out through the coding region, but the MRCA might not be closer to us than 20 or even 50 generations ago.

Which brings me roundabout to the notion that there were any--much less many--mtDNA SNP variances which existed in prehistory but that have gone extinct. I'd argue that the mtDNA molecule simply doesn't have enough genetic material. Going by the numbers only, my guess is that we have more unique mtDNA genomes in existence today than ever before. If we can believe the paleoanthropologists, at the time of the supposed Toba supereruption 70,000 years ago, we were down to as few as 10,000 humans. In the early Holocene, after the last glacial period about 10,000 years ago, there were between one and ten million humans (with an uncertainty of up to an order of magnitude).

So--this is gonna make all two-dozen of my cerebral neurons hurt--there would have been some 5.95x1021 mitochondria in existence and replicating 10,000 years ago. Today there would be 4.52x1024. The population of human mitochondria then would have been only 0.13% of what it is now. Seems to stand to reason that we're likely to see more mtDNA mutational possibilities in the much larger population. Something I should probably try to research before I comment, but it's Saturday morning and more coffee is calling: I also can't recall ever seeing a study of human mtDNA taken from ancient remains that was thought to be of an extinct haplogroup, no longer present in the population. If anyone knows of such a study, please point me to it. Save me the research.  :-)

Too much irrelevant information and opinion. So who cares, except some "specialist", that TERMINAL is an artefact. It serves the purpose for family researchers and genealogists.  Following your argument, we should ignore "terminal" SNP's because they are artefacts hence meaningless.

The Sykes reference also irrelevant, to the public, maybe not to you, the expert,  Sykes book was useful, it gave us a starting point of reference and some useful information.

As to whether or not the aboriginal DNA of Ireland, or England, went extinct, there is no way of knowing, either by you or anyone else.

The fact that SOME of the Basque and SOME of the Irish share YDNA is evidence that at some point in the past  Basque hunter gathers migrated to the British Isles. Were they the aboriginal inhabitants? Who knows.

Who were the aboriginal inhabitants anyway?

Well, the Cheddar man, Britains  oldest skeleton had dark skin, but does he represent all of the British Isles early population.?  Who knows but I suspect that he was just one of many groups that crossed Doggerland, or crossed the channel in skin boats.

Your responses probably have value, and are better understood in an academic setting amongst your peers
Interesting  Edison (I think), maybe wikitree, should have a section just for "experts" because frankly you went over my head, and I suspect the head of practically all wiki readers.

The average family family researcher has either a HS education, Community College or a Bachelors degree, but few of us are highly specialist in genetics and the experts should bear that in mind.

On the other hand, Edison, I do realize that you were talking, almost exclusively, to RJ who supposedly shares your degree of interest, education and competency.
No I wouldn't make that claim :)

But I would say that these papers tend to overstate their conclusions, and more so in the press release than in the actual paper.

The Basques and the Irish don't share DNA in the sense that would be reported by genealogial tests.

Common ancestry in the Stone Age could be explained by one Flintstone anywhere having one single line of descent that ended up in Ireland and one single line that ended up in Basqueland and then proliferation in those two places.  Or many other scenarios.
Now that is a great response, deserving of an uprate.

Your idea of a single "flintstone" "fathering" both the Basque and Irish makes total sense, even if it can't be proved . Or can it be proved? Who knows as testing populations increase and genetic science improves.

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