NABOKV-L post 0015771, Tue, 4 Dec 2007 20:56:10 -0500

CORRECTIONS: Efros, Evfrat, and Genghis Khan
Dear Carolyn,

You missed the joke in Mandelstam's poem. Efros is the name of a person,
not of the river. Abram Markovich Efros (1888-1854) is the well-known
art critic and translator of Petrarka, Dante, et al. The Russian name of
Ephrates is Efrat (Эфрат). See also Efratsky (aka Tigrin) in VN's story
Lips to Lips ("Уста к устам").

Incidentally, the name "Efros" is also a part of my charadoid:


The word "supremacist" means little to me.



Sorry, not "Efrat" but Evfrat and not "Ephrates" but Euphrates. Unlike
Mandelstam, I have no Greek. And I already looked up "supremacist" in my
Random House Webster.


[Carolyn]: I have recently heard that DNA studies of populations show
that about 80% of the world's current population are descended from
Genghis Khan (tant pis pour vn).

Seems slightly overexaggerated: the source I found gives an estimate of
16 million and only in Pakistan...
see below,
Victor Fet

Genghis Khan a Prolific Lover, DNA Data Implies

Hillary Mayell
for National Geographic News
February 14, 2003

Genghis Khan, the fearsome Mongolian warrior of the 13th century, may
have done more than rule the largest empire in the world; according to a
recently published genetic study, he may have helped populate it too.

An international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have
found that nearly 8 percent of the men living in the region of the
former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical. That
translates to 0.5 percent of the male population in the world, or
roughly 16 million descendants living today.

The spread of the chromosome could be the result of natural selection,
in which an extremely fit individual manages to pass on some sort of
biological advantage. The authors think this scenario is unlikely. They
suggest that the unique set of circumstances surrounding the
establishment of the Mongol empire led to the spread.

"This is a clear example that culture plays a very big role in patterns
of genetic variation and diversity in human populations," said
geneticist Spencer Wells, one of the 23 co-authors of the paper. "It's
the first documented case when human culture has caused a single genetic
lineage to increase to such an enormous extent in just a few hundred

Legacy of Genghis Khan

To have such a startling impact on a population required a special set
of circumstances, all of which are met by Genghis Khan and his male
relatives, the authors note in the study published in the American
Journal of Human Genetics.

Khan's empire at the time of his death extended across Asia, from the
Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea. His military conquests were frequently
characterized by the wholesale slaughter of the vanquished. His
descendants extended the empire and maintained power in the region for
several hundred years, in civilizations in which harems and concubines
were the norm. And the males were markedly prolific.

Khan's eldest son, Tushi, is reported to have had 40 sons. Documents
written during or just after Khan's reign say that after a conquest,
looting, pillaging, and rape were the spoils of war for all soldiers,
but that Khan got first pick of the beautiful women. His grandson,
Kubilai Khan, who established the Yuan Dynasty in China, had 22
legitimate sons, and was reported to have added 30 virgins to his harem
each year.

"The historically documented events accompanying the establishment of
the Mongol empire would have contributed directly to the spread of this
lineage," the authors conclude.

Tracking the Y-Chromosome

The study looked at blood samples collected over a period of ten years
from more than 40 populations living in and around the former Mongol
Geneticists use the Y-chromosome in population studies such as this
because it doesn't recombine as other parts of the genome do. When it
comes particwhich join together to form a new genetic combination.

The Y-chromosome is passed on as a chunk of DNA from father to son,
basically unchanged through generations except for random mutations.

These random mutations, which happen naturally and are usually harmless,
are called markers. Once the markers have been identified, geneticists
can go back in time and trace them to the point at which they first
occurred, defining a unique lineage of descent.

In this particular instance, the lineage originated 1,000 years ago. The
authors aren't saying that the genetic mutations defining the lineage
originated with Khan, who was born around 1162; they are more likely to
have been passed on to him by a great great grandfather.

The lineage was found in only one population outside of the former
Mongolian empire, in Pakistan.

"The Hazaras [of Pakistan] gave us our first clue to the connection with
Genghis Khan," said Wells. "They have a long oral tradition that says
they're his direct descendants."

Of course, the connection to Genghis Khan will never be a certainty
unless his grave is found and his DNA could be extracted. Until then,
geneticists will continue to seek out isolated populations in the hope
of unraveling the mysteries of geographic origin and relatedness told by
our genes.

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