One lucky leprechaun

By now all of you have probably heard about the Niall of the Nine Hostages study in The American Journal of Human Genetics. The short of it is that it seems a Genghis Khan dynamic has been operative in Ireland, descendents of this mighty king have spread their seed far and wide. Now, I take Henry’s point about the Haplotype Tracers, and to some extent he has been important making me sensitive to this issue for a long time, but the stuff about Niall and Genghis Khan is still pretty cool, and it’s straight genealogy, which is how this sort of data should be read (i.e., inferring a patrilineage from from a patrilineally transmitted locus makes a lot more sense than inferring the entire history of the population as is commonly done). But I stumbled onto this piece which asserts that “as many as one in twelve Irish men could be descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages.” Well, actually, since the study is focusing on a father-son patrilineage, it seems plausible that every Irish person is desdended from Niall through some genealogical line, and probably many times over. In Gilgamesh it was discovered that that true immortality was only attainable through glory echoing in memories of those who come after you, but to some extent the genome of the Irish people is a reflection of the genome of Niall of the Nine Hostages. But in any case, I just wanted to remind you guys out there that you are all the distant sons of supermen, our foremothers might not have been queens, but even the lowest slave amongst us issued from the loins of kings. Why are some of us still losers? Geoffrey Miller would have you believe that it is due to variance in the mutational load across the population (the total genetic load being maintained by mutation)….

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