Via Dienekes I have just come to know of a fascinating new research on ancient Y-DNA from the Canary Islands. It is most precious information, as it informs us not only of the patrilineal genetics of the aboriginal Guanches (the matrilineages had already been researched previously) but also, by extension, about the pre-Arabic Y-DNA of North Africa to some extent.
Rosa Fregel et al., Demographic history of Canary Islands male gene-pool:
replacement of native lineages by European. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2009 (provisional PDF - open access).
The authors managed to extract Y-DNA from 30 individuals, most of them from La Palma, from the pre-colonial period. Additionally 42 individuals from the period of Castilian conquest were also sampled succefully.
The aboriginal Guanches (n=30) had the following haplogroups (sorted by numerical importance):
E1b1b1b (M81) - 8 - 26.7%
E1b1b1a (M78) - 7 - 23.3%
J1 (M267) - 5 - 16.7%
R1b1b2 (M269) - 3 - 10%
K(xP) (M9) - 3 - 10%
I (M170) - 2 - 6.7%
E1a (M33) - 1 - 3.3%
P(xR1) - 1 - 3.3%
1. K* may be T. But notice that there are important amounts of K(xP,T) in modern Cape Verde, probably some odd founder effect and that the Canary Islands were briefly Portuguese at the very beginning of the colonial period. I'm wondering if it is some novel K sublineage, not yet described, specific of Canary Islands or rather North Africa.
2. P* is what? Could be R2, R(xR1,R2), Q or P(xQ,R) but all them are nearly unheard of so far west in the Old World.
In contrast, the Canarians of the conquest period were already in the process of Iberization: K*, I and P* were not identified anymore (this is admittedly odd for the case of I), the dominant "North African" lineages E1b1b1b, E1b1b1a and J1 show some clear reduction in their importance, R1b1b2 (very common in Iberia) increased massively up to 42.9% and R1a and E1b1a appeared for the first time (the latter probably as result of the African slave trade). This impact of colonization is much more marked than the one detected for mtDNA, emphasizing what we already knew that the colonization was largely a process carried on by men, as in Latin America.
What most interests me anyhow are these revelations:
1. J1 is pre-Arabic in North Africa. The same that the ancient Guanche mtDNA results showed that at least 50% of L(xM,N) pre-dates the slave trade, both in the Canary Islands and, by extension, mainland North Africa, this research shows that most of the North African J1 pre-dates the Muslim/Arabic conquest of the 7th century. It was something I already suspected (too common, clustered mostly in a distinct haplotype branch) so I am glad to see this suspicion confirmed.
2. "European" lineages R1b and I existed in North Africa prior to the Modern Age and probably prior to historical times altogether. Origins? If you're ready to challenge the TRMCA cult, maybe as old as Oranian (like their mtDNA counterparts H and V), if you're not, then blame Neolithic sailors maybe. The apportion detected 16.6% (5/30) for the sum of both lineages is just too high to be just erratics in any case.
In general, thank to these "fossil" records, we get a clear impresion that the modern DNA of North Africans is much like it used to be in the deep past and has been only minimally altered in the historical period.