April 28, 2005
Random Mongolian Genetic Trivia Item of the Day
Recently, a geneticist at Oxford University, Dr. Chris Tyler-Smith, and geneticists from China and central Asia took blood samples from populations living in regions near the former Mongol empire, and they studied the Y chromosomes. These are useful in establishing lineage because Y chormosomes continue from father to son. Dr. Tyler Smith and his colleagues found that an anomalously large number of the Y chromosomes carried a genetic signature indicating descent from a common ancestor about a thousand years ago. The scientists theorized that the ancestor was Genghis Khan (or, more exactly, an eleventh-century ancestor of Genghis Khan). About eight per cent of all males in the region studied, or sixteen million men, possess this chromosome signature. That’s a half per cent of the world’s population. It is possible, therefore, that more than thirty-two million people in the world are descended from Genghis Khan.
— from Ian Frazier’s story “Invaders,” in the April 25th New Yorker.
More on Genghis Khan, playa, from the Guardian.