Relative of Chinese dynasty founder has 1.5million descendants

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Around 1.5million men in China today are descendants of one man linked with the last dynasty of emperors. A geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Dr Chris Tyler-Smith discovered the genes of Giocangga could be traced to a huge percentage of today’s population in north-east China and Mongolia.

Giocangga was the grandfather of Emperor Nurhaci, a Manchurian tribal leader who died in 1626 and founded the Qing dynasty, which ruled from 1644-1912. The results of the study, which looked at a group of genes on the male Y chromosome, is related to the number of wives and concubines of Giocangga’s sons. Dr Tyler-Smith states on the BBC World Service's Science In Action programme: ‘We noticed just two types of Y chromosome that were extraordinarily frequent. When we looked at it more carefully, we found that it was not present in the majority population in that area, the Han. But in the minorities, including the Mongolians, it was present at around 5%.’ The average man in 16th-century China would have only around 20 modern descendants, the study found.

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