DF95 Not Alone in Being Alone

Previously in DF95 All Together Alone, I gave some examples of how the Cumberland Cluster is striking for it’s differences. Thinking about the question of how we can all be so alike (in our STR results), but so different from others we examined the SNPs turned up by big Y.  I talked about Y lines dying out, while others might thrive and how that might create gaps on the scale of a family. I gave some examples of the Y DNA trees of other haplogroups to illustrate all the missing branches from ours. I wondered out loud what happened to all the men who should be there given all the time that transpired between our first “cumberland” ancestor born around 2100BC and our most recent common ancestor (Mr. ZP86) born around 600BC.

We’re on our own and odd, but our circumstances are not exactly unique.

Alone in a Crowd

On the Z18 big Y results page (a listing for people who do not fall under the majority Z372 and it’s monster child L257), you’ll find several groups who show a similar pattern of runs of SNPs indicating that all the testers are more recently related to each other without any side branches coming from the ancient ancestors. I’ve highlighted them with darker red boxes.

Big Y Z18 SNP runs


Keep in mind that these groups were often named for the location given by the first few testers, so for instance Cumberland had two or three testers who traced back to Cumberland in England. The names become arbitrary as more testers are added from various locations. Also you’ll see some boxes that are blank, but a light grey. These were areas where there was not coverage in the test (Big Y is not “exact” in it’s coverage). The arrows are pointing to the level of the resident old guys in the cluster.

The East Anglia cluster on the left has about eleven SNPs in a run for all their testers.  To estimate the gap we can think of them being a few hundred years from Mr. Z18, so again maybe 2100BC with a last common ancestor in 250BC. About 1800 years of gap time. Similarly the Swede cluster has 16 SNPs in a row and a gap of about 2000 years. Although with only three testers from that group it’s hard to take that as a hard and fast number, the run could be smaller or it could be that these testers were just lucky in matching someone and others from the group would prove more branches.

Taken for what it is worth today, we have at least three groups coming from the root of Z18 with long straight non-branching Y trees showing a pinch point (back down to a single man) for each group.


Timeline of Tragedy

Well. Who can say if it’s really that dramatic or not, but It would seem like, in the last few hundred years before 0AD, things turned poorly for all these clusters (except L257, they seem to have a lot of nice layers up top which I assume would be in this same time period).

Given the Penchant for all the Z18 groups to include members from Scandinavia and the penchant for Scandinavians (in the Cumberland group anyway) to be on the early branches of big Y (after Mr. ZP86 of course), I’m still betting on that area as a starting point. I feel especially bolstered by the oldest ancient DNA found for U106 being Rise98 found in Sweden. He’s on an extinct branch of U106, but at around 2200BC he shows that U106 had already made it’s way to Scandinavia fairly early on (U106 age estimate is about 3000BC).

Of course, we don’t have to worry too much about those most ancient dates and 4000 to 5000 years of history. All of the diaspora of Cumberland Cluster men (and by the look of their SNPs East Anglia and Swede Cluster men) happened after some series of events and everyone has to get to their current positions in about half the time (2500 to 2000 years maybe). We don’t have to account for any members with connections older than 500 or 600BC. In that time, we recolonize all the same areas that the rest of RZ18 lives in and most of the same areas that U106 men inhabit.

This evidence of a pinch point and late expansion agrees with what we’ve been noticing for years. There are very few of us and we’re really spread out. Like a remnant population scrambling to find new homes.

We have roughly 600AD to 0AD to worry about (assuming we’re going to include the Swede cluster in here). That marks the bottleneck and the beginning of the expansion for these three groups with the Swede group seeming to be the most extreme (coming in closest to 0 hour and having the most SNPs in it’s run). Each group would have been brought to it’s knees about this time, but it also marks the hopeful point where they begin to branch out again.

Cumberlands…the not so early days

In 458.2 Cluster Bomb and Thoughts about Migration I spent some time thinking about the push of Rome north and what it might  mean for Z18 and the DF95 men in particular. In that time, my overarching idea was that we may have been pushed north by the Romans or the inter-tribal pressure created by the Romans, and then migrated from places like Denmark to The Isles, Poland, Sweden and Norway.

The big Y results and Rise98 have me wondering if I had the movement backwards. In the Cumberland cluster, those branches right off Mr. ZP86 and his descendant ZP85 contain men from Norway. Making it seem like Norway may be our home in the range of 600 to 400BC.

At the level of ZP86 (age estimate around 600BC), we have Skjennum (Koller) from Norway forming his own branch with multiple unmatched SNPs (arrow in the graphic above). At that same level, we have the Corsons (Sweden…or maybe Netherlands) who have their own branch. They have one SNP that was identified by Britains DNA or Scotlands DNA; S3525. That means at least one person at those test companies is on their line, but otherwise they are currently on their own (column to the right of the arrow in graphic above).

Down a rung at ZP85 (age estimate around 400BC) we have Lund from Norway on a  branch identified by ZP193, it has two men on it, the other shows a last name of Rathburn which may be Irish or English. The ZP193 branch is the sibling of the ZP121 branch that many of us below ZP85 sit on. There are other  isles origin ZP85 branches with a trails blazed by Ovens and separately Old and we’re waiting for another person to walk down those and define some group of shared SNPs for each man.

The presence of men from Norway at the top, near the pinch point is compelling to me even in a group like DF95 that is still dominated by the Isles and Continental Europe. Our diversity happens after the bottleneck.

East Anglia and the Swede Cluster

Among these three groups with long runs of shared SNPs right off the top, the Cumberlands have won a couple of victories in that you can see an “older” branch at ZP86. In the East Anglia group you have, at this point, a similar pattern. Their man from Sweden, Sahlstrom, is on his own branch at the base (East Anglia arrow in the graphic above) along with some isles testers like Davidson and Parker (to his left and right). The East Anglia cluster is dominated by the Isles but contains a man from Poland as well (Barkman). I have to wonder if he would end up on an older branch as would be expected in the normal east to west migrations or if (like the Cumberland Poland members) he would end up on a younger branch that went west to east. His panel test placed him at the same level as all the other East Anglia testers.

The Swede cluster, although it contains a man from Denmark (currently not tested for big Y) in it’s STR listings, has Swett from England as it’s resident old man, with Marksberry and Howell going a step farther together. All of these men are isles testers, so it would be interesting to get the Swede cluster person from Denmark tested. It’s hard to make a lot of determinations based on three testers who are so similar on the Y and geographically. I have to wonder how much of their 16 SNP run is part of a pinch point and how much of it is shared history in the isles.


A possible Scandinavian Location for the Bottleneck

Although these groups are biased towards the isles (with Cumberland picking up the most continental testers), the evidence we have from the two largest data sets (Cumberland and East Anglia) shows some affinity for early Scandinavian branches at the time of their bottlenecks. Given that other base branches of Z18 like Z372 also have a high incidence of Scandinavians and …again…rise98 showing an early U106 Scandinavian, I think I’m making the safe bet now in looking at 600BC to 0BC in Scandinavia for most recent common ancestors for these remnant groups. Like I said, we don’t have to account for all the diversity and migration of any group since 2100BC because, it would appear those other expected branches between 2100BC and 600BC or so are all dead. We really can think about the location of one man in 600BC for cumberland or 250BC for east anglia etc.

The general idea I come away with is that something big happened or several big things happened and they probably took place before the Romans made their presence known. The Cumberlands are a surviving branch along with what appear to be other sole surviving branches in Z18. We have to go back a bit and think about people who may have been in Scandinavia, but were not the kind of Scandinavians we think about today (vikings).

Based on age estimates, I’m specifically thinking about the period of time end of the Nordic Bronze Age and the beginning of the Pre-Roman Iron Age and, through big Y results, Scandinavia as a source or refuge.



DF95 Do Over



DF95 – All Together Alone









One Comment

  1. Hi there, I’m really enjoying reading your blog – I’m on FTDNA and recently did a YSTR test, and based on my results such as DYS385 11,11 marker results mentioned in one of your entries and having an administrator in another group I am involved in do a prediction test using an admin tool, he stated that there is a 100% prediction that I should be a part of the DF95 subclade. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to connect.

    I’m happy to contribute, as well as learn more about the DNA research. Thanks!

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