After studying the DNA of more than 2,000 men, researchers say they have compelling evidence that four out of five white Europeans can trace their roots to the Near East.
The discovery is shedding light on one of the most important periods of human history - the time when our ancient ancestors abandoned hunting and began to domesticate animals.
The Leicester University study looked at a common genetic mutation on the Y chromosome, the DNA that is passed down from fathers to sons.
They found that 80 per cent of European men shared the same Y chromosone mutation and after analysing how the mutation was distributed across Europe, were able to retrace how Europe was colonised around 8,000BC.
Prof Mark Jobling, who led the study: 'This was at the time of the Neolithic revolution when they developed a new style of tools, symmetrical, beautiful tools.
The new study suggests the farmers routinely upped sticks and moved west when their villages became too crowded, eventually reaching Britain and Ireland.
The waves of migrants brought their new skills with them. Some settled down with local tribes and taught them how to farm, the researchers believe.
'When the expansion happened these men had a reproductive advantage because they were able to grow more food so they were more attractive to women and had more offspring,' said Prof Jobling.
'In total more than 80 per cent of European men have Y chromosomes which descend from incoming farmers.
'It seems odd to think that the majority of men in Ireland have fore fathers from the near East and that British people have forefathers from the near East.'
The findings are published in the science journal PLoS Biology.
Dr Patricia Balaresque, a co-author of the study, said: 'This means that more than 80 per cent of European Y chromosomes descend from incoming farmers.'
For the first time, researchers have been able to directly estimate the Anglo-Saxon ancestry of the British population from ancient skeletons.
Human remains excavated from burial sites near Cambridge provided the material for the first whole-genome sequences of ancient British DNA.
Using a new analysis method to compare these ancient genomes with modern-day sequences, researchers have estimated that approximately a third of British ancestors were Anglo-Saxon immigrants.
Researchers discovered that the Anglo-Saxon immigrants were genetically very similar to modern Dutch and Danish, and that they contributed 38% of the DNA of modern people from East England, and 30% for modern Welsh and Scottish.
The Anglo-Saxons first settled in the South East of England so this pattern is consistent with their migration pattern.
According to historical accounts and archaeology, the Anglo-Saxons migrated to Britain from continental Europe from the 5th Century AD.
They brought with them a new culture, social structure and language.
Previous DNA studies have relied entirely on modern DNA and suggested anything between 10% and 95% contribution to the population.
One such study suggested that Anglo Saxons didn't mix with the native population, staying segregated.
However, this newly published study uses ancient genetic information and disproves the earlier idea, showing just how integrated the people of Britain were.
THE GLADIATORS OF YORK: FURTHER INSIGHT INTO BRITAIN'S HISTORY
In a seperate study, also published in Nature Communications, Prof Dan Bradley from Trinity College Dublin and colleagues analysed the genomes of nine individuals from Roman-era York.
They found that six of the individuals - presumably indigenous Britons - were similar to the modern Welsh, but different from populations living in Yorkshire today.
However, one of the individuals had genetic affinities with people from North Africa and the Middle East, providing evidence of long-scale migration in Roman times.
Archaeologists have speculated that the skeletons belonged to gladiators, although they could also have been soldiers or criminals.
Several suffered perimortem decapitation and were all of a similar age. under 45 years old. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 3. Majority of west Europeans Came from "Nowhere" within Last ca. 3000 Years!!!!! Recent radiation of R-M269 males in Europe
Recent Radiation within Y-chromosomal Haplogroup R-M269 Resulted in High Y-STR Haplotype Resemblance
Maarten H. D. Larmuseau et al.
Y-chromosomal short tandem repeats (Y-STRs) are often used in addition to Y-chromosomal single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Y-SNP) to detect subtle patterns in a population genetic structure. There are, however, indications for Y-STR haplotype resemblance across different subhaplogroups within haplogroup R1b1b2 (R-M269) which may lead to erosion in the observation of the population genetic pattern. Hence the question arises whether Y-STR haplotypes are still informative beyond high-resolution Y-SNP genotyping for population genetic studies. To address this question, we genotyped the Y chromosomes of more than 1000 males originating from the West-European regions of Flanders (Belgium), North-Brabant and Limburg (the Netherlands) at the highest resolution of the current Y-SNP tree together with 38 commonly used Y-STRs. We observed high resemblance of Y-STR haplotypes between males belonging to different subhaplogroups of haplogroup R-M269. Several subhaplogroups within R-M269 could not be distinguished from each other based on differences in Y-STR haplotype variation. The most likely hypothesis to explain this similarity of Y-STR haplotypes within the population of R-M269 members is a recent radiation where various subhaplogroups originated within a relatively short time period. We conclude that high-resolution Y-SNP typing rather than Y-STR typing might be more useful to study population genetic patterns in (Western) Europe.