Our Brooks DNA

To help me find cousins and descendents of my ancestors I ventured into the science of genetics and had my male inherited Y-DNA tested to isolate my haplogroup . I used an American company called FTDNA . I originally took a test to analyse 67 markers but have increased this now to 111 markers as the technology continues to advance. They found I belonged to a haplogroup called E1b1b1b* - A (E - M183). I was also tested for some specific SNP and am L335+ L19+ V13- M183- PF2469 which has helped refine our origins even further.

When I took these tests I also wanted to find out whether all BROOKS families are releated genetically or not, and as suspected we're not. You can see a comparison of the BROOKS results to date in these Result Comparison Tables. This is probably because the name is based on a location - living near the Brook. Previously I had found BROOKS clusters located in Derbyshire, Lancashire, Scotland, Somerset, Hampshire and London.

So far, and assuming that my ancestors were 100% faithful to each other (of course they were!), I am the only BROOKS registered with the various DNA comparison websites who is an E1b1b1b* - A; I am also as far as I can tell the only BROOKS from Derbyshire who has been tested. There are though a number of other cousins with different surnames, e.g. Milward, Nixon, Maxfield, Pegg, Bonsall & Bricker on the database and who the DNA tells us share a common ancestor - as yet we haven't identified him but he was there!

This is a really interesting group of cousins as we all not only share the same haplogroup but we share the same geographical origin in NW Derbyshire, NE Staffordshire, East Cheshire. One theory is that the common ancestor arrived in Roman times, probably as a slave (folklore has it that Middleton by Wirksworth was established as a slave barracks by the Romans) and was despatched to the Lead Mines in the Peak District, where in the case of the BROOKS family they remained until relatively recently it would seem. You can read more about our little 'gang of Peakrills' here A Derbyshire Diaspora.

The National Genographic Project explains these results: they identify me as a member of haplogroup E1b1b1 (M35.1). The genetic markers that define my ancestral history reach back roughly 60,000 years to the first common marker of all non-African men, M168, and follow my lineage to present day, ending with M35.1, the defining marker of haplogroup E1b1b1.

A map highlighting my ancestors' route out of Africa shows that members of haplogroup E1b1b1 carry the following Y-chromosome markers:

M168 > YAP > M96 > P147 > P177 > P2 > M215 > M35.1 > E-PF2469

(Less is known about some markers than others. What is known about my ancestors journey is reflected below.)

Today, the E1b1b1 line of descent is most heavily represented in Mediterranean populations. Approximately 10 percent of the men in Spain belong to this haplogroup, as do 12 percent of the men in northern Italy, and 13 percent of the men in central and southern Italy. Roughly 20 percent of the men in Sicily belong to this group. In the Balkans and Greece, between 20 to 30 percent of the men belong to E1b1b1, as do nearly 75 percent of the men in North Africa. The haplogroup is rarely found in India or East Asia. Around 10 percent of all European men trace their descent to this line. For example, in Ireland, 3 to 4 percent of the men belong; in England, 4 to 5 percent; Hungary, 7 percent; and Poland, 8 to 9 percent. Nearly 25 percent of Jewish men belong to this haplogroup.

What's a haplogroup, and why do geneticists concentrate on the Y-chromosome in their search for markers? For that matter, what's a marker?

Each of us carries DNA that is a combination of genes passed from both our mother and father, giving us traits that range from eye color and height to athleticism and disease susceptibility. One exception is the Y-chromosome, which is passed directly from father to son, unchanged, from generation to generation.

Unchanged, that is unless a mutation a random, naturally occurring, usually harmless change occurs. The mutation, known as a marker, acts as a beacon; it can be mapped through generations because it will be passed down from the man in whom it occurred to his sons, their sons, and every male in his family for thousands of years.

In some instances there may be more than one mutational event that defines a particular branch on the tree. What this means is that any of these markers can be used to determine your particular haplogroup, since every individual who has one of these markers also has the others.

When geneticists identify such a marker, they try to figure out when it first occurred, and in which geographic region of the world. Each marker is essentially the beginning of a new lineage on the family tree of the human race. Tracking the lineages provides a picture of how small tribes of modern humans in Africa tens of thousands of years ago diversified and spread to populate the world.

A haplogroup is defined by a series of markers that are shared by other men who carry the same random mutations. The markers trace the path my ancestors took as they moved out of Africa. It's difficult to know how many men worldwide belong to any particular haplogroup, or even how many haplogroups there are, because scientists simply don't have enough data yet.

One of the goals of the five-year Genographic Project is to build a large enough database of anthropological genetic data to answer some of these questions. To achieve this, project team members are traveling to all corners of the world to collect more than 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous populations. In addition, I'd encourage you to contribute your anonymous results to the project database, helping their geneticists reveal more of the answers to our ancient past.

My Ancestral Journey: What We Know Now

M168: My Earliest Ancestor

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: Roughly 50,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Africa

Climate: Temporary retreat of Ice Age; Africa moves from drought to warmer temperatures and moister conditions

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 10,000

Tools and Skills: Stone tools; earliest evidence of art and advanced conceptual skills

Skeletal and archaeological evidence suggest that anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago, and began moving out of Africa to colonize the rest of the world around 60,000 years ago.

The man who gave rise to the first genetic marker in my lineage probably lived in northeast Africa in the region of the Rift Valley, perhaps in present-day Ethiopia, Kenya, or Tanzania, some 31,000 to 79,000 years ago. Scientists put the most likely date for when he lived at around 50,000 years ago. His descendants became the only lineage to survive outside of Africa, making him the common ancestor of every non-African man living today.

But why would man have first ventured out of the familiar African hunting grounds and into unexplored lands? It is likely that a fluctuation in climate may have provided the impetus for your ancestors' exodus out of Africa.

The African ice age was characterized by drought rather than by cold. It was around 50,000 years ago that the ice sheets of northern Europe began to melt, introducing a period of warmer temperatures and moister climate in Africa. Parts of the inhospitable Sahara briefly became habitable. As the drought-ridden desert changed to a savanna, the animals hunted by your ancestors expanded their range and began moving through the newly emerging green corridor of grasslands. My nomadic ancestors followed the good weather and the animals they hunted, although the exact route they followed remains to be determined.

In addition to a favorable change in climate, around this same time there was a great leap forward in modern humans' intellectual capacity. Many scientists believe that the emergence of language gave us a huge advantage over other early human species. Improved tools and weapons, the ability to plan ahead and cooperate with one another, and an increased capacity to exploit resources in ways we hadn't been able to earlier, all allowed modern humans to rapidly migrate to new territories, exploit new resources, and replace other hominids.

YAP: An Ancient Mutation

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: Roughly 50,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Africa

Climate: Temporary retreat of Ice Age; Africa moves from drought to warmer temperatures and moister conditions

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 10,000

Tools/Skills: Stone tools; earliest evidence of art and advanced conceptual skills

Sub-Saharan populations living today are characterized by one of three distinct Y-chromosome branches on the human tree. Your paternal lineage falls under one of these ancient branches and is referred to by geneticists as YAP.

YAP occurred around northeast Africa and is the most common of the three ancient genetic branches found in sub-Saharan Africa. It is characterized by a mutational event known as an Alu insertion, a 300-nucleotide fragment of DNA which, on rare occasion, gets inserted into different parts of the human genome during cell replication.

A man living around 50,000 years ago, my distant ancestor, acquired this fragment on his Y-chromosome and passed it on to his descendants. Over time this lineage split into two distinct groups. One is found primarily in Africa and the Mediterranean is defined by marker M96. The other group is found in Asia and defined by the M174 mutation.

My genetic lineage lies within the group that remained close to home, and was carried by men who likely played an integral role in recent cultural and migratory events within Africa.

M96: Moving Out of Africa

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: 30,000 to 40,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Africa

Climate: Dry Ice Age

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Tens of thousands

Tools/Skills: Upper Paleolithic

The next man in my ancestral lineage was born around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago in northeast Africa and gave rise to marker M96. The origins of M96 are unclear; further data may shed light on the precise origin of this lineage.

What is known is that there were two great waves of migration out of Africa. The first small groups of people left around 60,000 years ago and followed a coastal route that eventually reached Australia. The second exodus occurred beginning around 50,000 years ago, heading north. The bulk of these travelers were descendants of a man born with marker M89, a group we'll call the Middle Eastern Clan. Some 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans today are descendants of the Middle Eastern Clan.

I am descended from an ancient African lineage that chose to move north into the Middle East. My kinsmen may have accompanied the Middle Eastern Clan as they followed the great herds of large mammals north through the grassy plains and savannas of the Sahara gateway.

Alternatively, a group of my ancestors may have undertaken their own migration at a later date, following the same route previously traveled by the Middle Eastern Clan peoples.

Beginning about 40,000 years ago, the climate shifted once again and became colder and more arid. Drought hit Africa and the grasslands reverted to desert; for the next 20,000 years, the Saharan Gateway was effectively closed. With the desert impassable, your ancestors had two options: remain in the Middle East, or move on. Retreat back to the home continent was not an option.

M35.1: Neolithic Farmers

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: 20,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Middle East

Climate: Ice Age

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Hundreds of thousands

Tools/Skills: Upper Paleolithic-Neolithic

The final common ancestor in my haplogroup, the man who gave rise to marker M35.1, was born around 20,000 years ago in the Middle East. His descendants were among the first farmers and helped spread agriculture from the Middle East into the Mediterranean region.

At the end of the last ice age around 10,000 years ago, the climate changed once again and became more conducive to plant production. This probably helped spur the Neolithic Revolution, the point at which the human way of living changed from nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled agriculturists.

The early farming successes in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East beginning around 8,000 years ago spawned population booms and encouraged migration throughout much of the Mediterranean world.

Control over their food supply marks a major turning point for the human species. Rather than small clans of 30 to 50 people who were highly mobile and informally organized, agriculture brought the first trappings of civilization. Occupying a single territory required more complex social organization, moving from the kinship ties of a small tribe to the more elaborate relations of a larger community. It spurred trade, writing, calendars, and pioneered the rise of modern sedentary communities and cities.

These ancient farmers, my ancestors, helped bring the Neolithic Revolution into the Mediterranean.

This is where my genetic trail, as we know it today, ends. DNA genealogy is reliant on comparing tests with others. If you have a BROOKS surname (or a varient) you can join an international study and submit the results of your test to the growing list of participants. The story above is supplied by National Geographics Genographic project and If you have a DNA test I'd encourage you to participate and help expand this fascinating study further.

The following sites will assist you and will help you access BROOKS DNA studies:

Double Helix, the forum for haplogroup E-M35 discussion

This webpage details the E3b project background

FTDNA's BROOKS surname group

National Geographics International origins project

FTDNA's BROOKS DNA Results Comparison

Yahoo's BROOKS DNA Forum

Nigel BROOKS family website (covering Brooks with Harrogate in Yorkshire origins)

Facebook BROOKS DNA Forum

Our Link to the Berbers

Berbers, also called Imazighen (in antiquity known as Libyans by the Greek), are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are discontinuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke various Berber languages, which together form a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Today many of them speak Arabic and also French in the Maghreb, due to the French colonization of the Maghreb, and especially Spanish in Morocco. Today most Berber-speaking people live in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

Many Berbers call themselves some variant of the word Imazighen (singular: Amazigh), possibly meaning "free people" or "free and noble men"(the word has probably an ancient parallel in the Roman name for some of the Berbers, "Mazices").

The best known of the ancient Berbers were the Roman author Apuleius, Saint Augustine of Hippo and the Roman general Lusius Quietus, who was instrumental in defeating the major Jewish revolt of 115 to 117. Famous Berbers of the Middle Ages included Tariq ibn Ziyad, a general who conquered Hispania; Abd ar-Rahman I, the founder of the Caliphate of Cordoba; Abbas Ibn Firnas, a prolific inventor and early pioneer in aviation; Ibn Battuta, a medieval explorer who traveled the longest known distances in pre-modern times; and Estevanico, an early explorer of the Americas. Well-known modern Berbers include Zinedine Zidane, a French-born international football star.

The population genetics of North Africans has been heavily influenced by geography. The Sahara desert to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the North were important barriers to gene flow in prehistoric times. However Eurasia and Africa form a single land mass at the Suez. At the Straits of Gibraltar, Africa and Europe are separated by only 15 km (9 mi). At periods of low sea-levels, such as during a glacial maximum, islands that are currently submerged would appear in the Mediterranean and possibly in between the Gibraltar straits. These may have encouraged humans to "island hop" between Africa and Europe. During wetter phases of the Sahara, Sub-Saharan Africans would have expanded into North Africa. West Asian populations would have also been attracted to a wet Sahara. West Asian populations could also migrate into Africa via the coastal regions of the Mediterranean.

As a result of these geographic influences, the genetic profile of Berber populations is a complex mosaic of European, Sub-Saharan African and West Asian influences. Though North Africa has experienced gene-flow from the surrounding regions, it has also experienced long periods of genetic isolation, allowing a distinctive genetic markers to evolve in Berber populations.

Current scientific debate is concerned with determining the relative contributions of different periods of gene flow to the current gene pool of North Africans. Anatomically modern humans are known to have been present in North Africa during the Upper Paleolithic 45,000 years ago as attested by the Aterian culture. With no apparent continuity, 22,000 years ago, the Aterian was succeeded by the Iberomaurusian culture which shared similarities with Iberian cultures. The Iberomaurusian was succeeded by the Capsian, a pre-neolithic culture. About 9,000 years ago the Saharan entered a wet phase which attracted Neolithic peoples from the Near East and Sub-Saharan Africans. In historic times, North Africa was invaded by several peoples including Phoenicians (814 to 146 BCE), Romans (146 to 439 BCE), Vandals (439 to 534 BCE),and Byzantines (534 to 647 BCE). In the 7th Century a migration of Bedouin peoples from the Arabian peninsula brought Arabic languages into North Africa.

Haplogroup E is the most prevalent haplogroup amongst the Berbers accounting for up to 87% of Y-chromosomes among some Berber populations. Haplogroup E is thought to have emerged in Sub-Saharan Africa and would have later dispersed into North Africa . The major sub-clades of haplogroup E found amongst Berbers belong to E1b1b1 which is believed to have emerged in East Africa. Common subclades include, E1b1b1a, E1b1b1b and E1b1b1*. E1b1b1b is distributed along a west-to-east cline with frequencies as high as 80% in Northwest Africa. E1b1b1a has been observed at low to moderate frequencies among Berber populations with significantly higher frequencies observed in Northeast Africa relative to Northwest Africa. Haplogroup E1a has also been detected at frequencies of 1.6-3.4%. E1a is typically observed in Sub-Saharan populations, however its presence among Berber populations is thought to be ancient as it has been detected in Iberia and among remains of Aboriginals from the Canary Islands. Haplogroup E1b1a has also been observed at low frequencies. E1b1a is most frequent in sub-saharan Africa and is thought to have expanded recently following the adoption of agriculture and Iron-working. It is thus believed to be a recent introduction into the Berber gene-pool. Eurasian haplogroups such as haplogroup J and haplogroup R1 have been observed at low to moderate frequencies.

E1b1b1b (E-M81); formerly E3b1b, E3b2

E1b1b1b (E-M81) is the most common Y chromosome haplogroup in North Africa, dominated by its sub-clade E-M183. It is thought to have originated in North Africa 5,600 years ago. The parent clade E1b1b originated in East Africa. Colloquially referred to as the Berber marker for its prevalence among Mozabite, Middle Atlas, Kabylian and other Amazigh groups, E-M81 is also quite common among North African groups. It reaches frequencies of up to 80% in the Maghreb. This includes the Saharawish for whose men Bosch et al. (2001) reports that approximately 76% are M81+.

This haplogroup is also found of some amounts in the Iberian Peninsula, probably due to ancient migrations during the Islamic, Roman, and Carthaginian empires, as well as the influence of Sephardic Jews. In Iberia generally it is more common than E1b1b1a (E-M78), unlike in the rest of Europe, and as a result this E-M81 is found throughout Latin America and among Hispanic men in USA. As an exceptional case in Europe, this sub-clade of E1b1b1 has also been observed at 40% the Pasiegos from Cantabria.

In smaller numbers, E-M81 men can be found in Sudan, Lebanon, Turkey, and amongst Sephardic Jews.

There are two recognized sub-clades, although one is much more important than the other.

Sub Clades of E1b1b1b (E-M81):

E1b1b1b1 (E-M107). Underhill et al. (2000) found one example in Mali.

E1b1b1b2 (E-M183). Individuals with the defining marker for this clade, M81, also test positive, in tests so far, for M183. As of 23rd October 2008, the SNP M165 is currently considered to define a subclade, "E1b1b1b2a"

Source: Wikipedia