The Tell-Tale Genome
Enrico R. Crema,
Sara Graça da Silva,
Jamshid J. Tehrani
Posted 02 Dec 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/091074 (published DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1614395114)
Posted 02 Dec 2016
Observable patterns of cultural variation are consistently intertwined with demic move- ments, cultural diffusion, and adaptation to different ecological contexts (Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman 1981; Boyd and Richerson 1985). The quantitative study of gene-culture co-evolution has focused in particular on the mechanisms responsible for change in frequency and attributes of cultural traits, on the spread of cultural information through demic and cultural diffusion, and on detecting relationships between genetic and cultural lineages. Here, for the first time, we make use of worldwide whole-genome sequences (Pagani et al. 2016) to assess the impact of demic diffusion on cultural diversity, focusing on the variability observed in folktale tradi- tions (N=596) (Uther 2004) in Eurasia and Africa. We show that at small geographic scales (<=5000 km) there is a strong correlation between folktale and genomic distance when the effect of geography is corrected, while geographic distance has no independent effect on the distribution of folkloric narratives at the same spatial scale. This points to demic processes (i.e. population movement and re- placement) as the main driver of folktale transmission at limited geographic ranges. The role of population movements becomes more apparent when regions characterized by episodes of directional expansions, such as the Neolithization of West Eurasia, are examined. Furthermore, we identify 89 individual tales which are likely to be pre- dominantly transmitted through demic diffusion, and locate putative focal areas for a subset of them.
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