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Paternal Origin & Migration with Y-DNA Test

A Work In Progress by Herbert Holeman, PhD.

Draft Workpaper Posted.

For discussion purposes, my DNA tests and findings are used as examples.

• My paternal-line ancestral roots originate in mainland Asia ~29,400 years ago from the predominant China sub-group.

• As of ~10,672 years ago, my paternal ancestors reached the southeast China coast and/or the island of Taiwan.

• My paternal haplogroup O is almost nonexistent in Western Siberia, Western Asia, Europe, and Africa and is absent from the Americas.


A ten-generation family tree has 1,024 ancestors. Yet as is true of mtDNA, the Y-DNA test has the power to reveal information about just a single person out of those 1,024 ancestors. The Y-DNA test permits me to pursue deeper into my genetic male line of ancestors.

Only men inherit the Y chromosome, and my father inherited his Y chromosome from his father, who inherited it from his father and so on ad infinitum. Thus, the Y chromosome is passed down from father to son basically unchanged.

Geneticists can go back in time and trace these Y-DNA markers to the point at which they first occurred. Conversely, they can trace the markers downstream (most recent to present days). That most recent marker then defines one's haplogroup.

Moreover, people who share the same marker share a common ancestor and belong to a haplogroup, which in my case has been established as haplogroup O. Through the Y-DNA lens I view intact copies of Y-DNA that each generation of fathers pass on intact to their sons. Likewise, each specific marker represents my most recent common ancestor (MRCA) from which all the men with that marker are direct descendants.

However, as genealogist Debbie Kennet lectures in this video "Everybody in the world shares a common ancestor in the last 2 - 4 thousand years...Around 5,000 years ago everybody alive was either a common ancestor of everybody alive today, or not an ancestor of anybody alive today!"

So given that we may all be distantly related, following is the downstream sequence of my ancestral markers.

~29,400 years ago

My defining genetic marker O-M175 originated in present-day China. The marker remains mostly present among male populations in East and Southeast Asia and is associated with the Chinese people and the Han Chinese lineage. It dominates the East Asian Y chromosome gene pool and accounts for 75% of the entire paternal lineages of Chinese. Yet, it is almost nonexistent in Western Siberia, Western Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

The Han presently constitutes more than 90% of China's population and 20% of the global population as discussed in this video.

~24,707 years ago

My O-M122 descendant emerged with that marker as the result of gaining a genetic trait my O-M175 ancestor didn't have. In genetic genealogy terms, his progeny (O-M175) had formed the marker O-M122 downstream (closer to present times). The ancestor with the O-M122 marker thus becomes known by the acronym MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor). To that point, my O-M122 ancestor became the most recent man from which all the men in the M122 subclade of haplogroup O are direct descendents.

Yet, while I know when my O-M122 lived, I only know the general locations of his hunter-gatherer existence. Figure 20 shows my ancient father-line ancestry geographically. As a proto ethnic Han Chinese, he likely lived a nomad existence, staying near rivers and lakes, possibly along the 600 mile stretch of the Yangtze River believed to be the cradle of ancient civilizations. To that possibility, he may have lived in the river section known as the Middle Reach and, in the vicinity of the present day, Hubei Province of China, the location of the famous Three Gorges.

Figure 20
My Y-DNA Genetic Markers

As it happens, the O-M122 marker is the predominant sub-group in China. It is present at high levels amongst Han Chinese, it is also present in Tibeto-Burman populations as well as Yunnan, Tibet, Myanmar, Northeast India, and Nepal, Manchu, Mongolia, Korea, Vietnam, Malay, Philippines, Thailand, and others.

~20,257 years ago

My O-P201 ancestor descended from a genetric variation in my O-M122 ancestor. Men with the marker O-P201 may have lived in the vicinity of present-day Chongqing. The O-P201 marker is a major branch of haplogroup O in Asia.

~17,005 years ago

With the emergence of my O-P164 ancestor the migration southward continued. Interestingly, about this time 18,000 years ago, a matriarchal clan society existed in China with the mother as head of the family and descent traced through the mother's side. Also, noteworthy is evidence of rice consumption as early as 16,000 years ago in the area of Hunan Province. Neolithic cultures in the Yangtze region would spread material culture, rice farming and animal domestication to the Lingnan-Fujian region and the Yungui Plateau, and later into Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

~13,800 years ago

My ancestral Southeast Asia migration turned seaward with the emergence of an O-F996 ancestor also known as F871.

~10,672 years ago

My genetic ancestral marker O-F706 emerged. Its presence in populations covers a wide swath of Southeast Asia. At the time, Taiwan itself was part of the mainland of present-day China. The theory is the Taiwan's Gaoshan indigenous people originated from one branch of the ancient Yue ethnic group. During the Stone Age, they lived along the eastern edge of the mainland connected to Taiwan before it became an island from rising seas ~10,000 years ago.

Copyright © 2018 Herbert P. Holeman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.