Tibeto-Burmans, Munda, and Bengalis

By Razib Khan 23 Comments


I’m pretty sure I posted this Chaubey lab work as a preprint, but it’s now a published paper. For those who can’t understand the table, it illustrates a big difference between Tibeto-Burmans and Munda. The samples from Bangladesh look to be generic Bangladeshis, the 10% frequency for O2a seems to match the other data I’ve seen for East Bengalis.

This confirms that the East Asian admixture into Bengalis was not Munda. And, the Tibeto-Burmans of the nTibeortheast have no assimilated Munda ancestry. I think it does lend more credence to the idea that the Munda arrived in the Indian subcontinent across the Bay of Bengal, landing in Odisha, rather than from the northeast.

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23 Replies to “Tibeto-Burmans, Munda, and Bengalis”

    1. I’m mtdna M49. I mentioned this to Razib ages ago. It seems to only be restricted to the khasi tribe of Meghalaya. I’ve always wondered wherever it has Austroasiatic origins or Tibeto Burmese. It’s a great mystery of South Asian population genetics.

  1. How does this explain a very significant impact of Bengali into Santali (Munda language)? There is also a flow in the reverse direction….Does the paper provide any time periods?

  2. How does this explain a very significant impact of Bengali into Santali (Munda language)? There is also a flow in the reverse direction….Does the paper provide any time periods?

    the admixture into the east bengalis is 1,500 years ago. i’ve looked at it myself (confirmed the date). it looks tibeto-burman.

    but, some readers point out it might be quite different in west bengal. one hypothesis could be that the bengali language developed in west bengal,where munda ARE part of the substrate, and spread westward? presumably the people already spoke proto-bengali dialects, but perhaps the spread of munda words is the spread of west bengali dialect?

    there is surely some munda in east bengal. but the 10% east asian is clearly mostly tibeto-burman-like (or khasi)

    1. Hey Razib I was wondering what would be the more likely paternal ancestral group for me, Tibeto Burman or Austro-Asiatic? My paternal grandfather is from North Bengal and he had somewhat asiatic features and my haplogroup according to 23andme is O-F8 which is mutation from O-M122. Before these results, I would believe in the myth that he was of Mongol descent.

  3. I’m mtdna M49. I mentioned this to Razib ages ago. It seems to only be restricted to the khasi tribe of Meghalaya. I’ve always wondered wherever it has Austroasiatic origins or Tibeto Burmese. It’s a great mystery of South Asian population genetics.

    the linguistics and genetics point to munda and khasi being very distantly related seem clear now. i think the munda left by ship from irawady delta or points further south (the narrow peninsula above malaya).

  4. Razib, what’s the genetic distance between east Bengalis and burmese (from burma). Burmese have 25% South Asian ancestry, I guess from the NE corridor and not South Indian like the rest of SE Asia, right? I mean could we determine based on the AASI\Iran_pre Neolithic (Indus_Periphery)/ steppe proportions, the likelihood of the source (either Proto Bengali or South India).

    1. @Rohit
      Bengalis from Bangladesh are generally equidistant to both burmese and Levantines, Tbh it really depends upon region, if somebody is from Chittagong, he is closer to Burmese than to Syrians, somebody from west bengal closer to syrians than to burmese.
      you asked
      “I mean could we determine based on the AASI\Iran_pre Neolithic (Indus_Periphery)/ steppe proportions, the likelihood of the source (either Proto Bengali or South India)”
      Burmese people do have some west eurasian but dispropotionally more AASI(like other SE Asians) than Iran_N/Steppe, Razib can correct me here.

      1. ” if somebody is from Chittagong, he is closer to Burmese than to Syrians”

        I disagree. This Chittagong sample is closer to Syrians than Burmese :

        Distance to: Chittagong

        0.28073885 Turkish_Istanbul
        0.30428915 Syrian
        0.31663247 Lebanese_Muslim
        0.32601845 Burmese
        0.33619812 Thai

        From what I observed by far. Eastern Bangladeshis from Chittagong, Comilla, and Sylhet have both extra east Asian and extra Steppe. They are generally slightly more ANI shifted than BEB Bangladesh average.

        There is a Buddhist Community named Barua in Chittagong, they have a very high east Asian admixture compared to regular Bengalis and likely would be closer to Burmese than Syrians.

        A district in West Bengal in contrast is a hodgepodge of disparate endogamous communities. Razib posted an article about it a few weeks ago.

        1. @Son goku
          Yeah that sample was closer to Syrians/Lebanese people, but tbh we need more chittagong samples to confirm this.
          Anyway, here is a sylheti sample
          1
          Syrian • Average Average
          32.23
          2
          Burmese • Average Average
          32.38
          3
          Assyrian • Average Average
          33.10
          4
          Lebanese Muslim • Average…
          33.48
          5
          Thai • Average Average
          33.60
          here’s another one(sylheti)
          1
          Burmese • Average Average
          32.26
          2
          Syrian • Average Average
          32.40
          3
          Assyrian • Average Average
          33.17
          4
          Thai • Average Average
          33.36
          5
          Lebanese Muslim • Average…
          33.61
          Tbh, They are equidistant to Levantines and Burmese/Thai people.
          you said
          “From what I observed by far. Eastern Bangladeshis from Chittagong, Comilla, and Sylhet have both extra east Asian and extra Steppe. They are generally slightly more ANI shifted than BEB Bangladesh average.”
          I know Harappa world calculator is somewhat outdated but we can somewhat assume(AASI/Steppe/Iran_N) based on the results
          Here is a chittagongi sample from Chittagong(Posted in anthrogenica and a confirmed sample)
          S-Indian 47.16 Pct
          Baloch 27.27 Pct
          Caucasian 4.71 Pct
          NE-Euro 1.99 Pct
          SE-Asian 6.79 Pct
          Siberian 0.27 Pct
          NE-Asian 9.03 Pct
          Papuan 0.89 Pct
          Beringian 0.85 Pct
          SW-Asian 0.85 Pct
          San 0.18 Pct
          I was really surprised to see low NEuro and East Asian was high as expected,
          So, they are really diverse, we really need more samples from Chittagong.

  5. @Akhilesh
    “Tbh, They are equidistant to Levantines and Burmese/Thai people.”
    Yeah, I agree with this, although there’s nothing pertinent about comparing Bengalis with groups that distant. If we take nearby Western Eurasian groups like Iranian_Bandari or Tajik, things get more transparent.
    Distance to: Chittagong
    0.19964956 Tajik
    0.22606225 Iranian_Bandari
    0.32601845 Burmese
    0.33619812 Thai
    Distance to: Bengali_Bangladesh
    0.22389475 Tajik
    0.24421463 Iranian_Bandari
    0.33849436 Burmese
    0.35024005 Thai
    “I was really surprised to see low NEuro and East Asian was high as expected,
    So, they are really diverse, we really need more samples from Chittagong.”
    I won’t take these %ages solemnly. In Harappaworld I would combine NE Euro/Caucasian/Mediterranean to judge steppe %age, specifically for Bengalis. I’ve seen Bengalis with higher NE Euro, but lower Caucasian. Overall, I don’t find Harappaworld that convenient to look for exact steppe %age. And definitely, I would not say general Bengalis from Chittagong are very diverse. The overall western Eurasian %age of Bengalis from all areas is well-nigh the same, anyway.

    1. @ Son Goku
      you said
      “If we take nearby Western Eurasian groups like Iranian_Bandari or Tajik, things get more transparent.”
      Rohit asked how much distinct Burmese and Bengalis are generally, that’s why I compared with levantine groups.

  6. Guys, is higher the number, the more distant the two populations are? So, if the distance is 0.3 is that more distant than population 0.1 fst apart?

  7. Well tbh I find it amazing Bengalis are equidistant between their next door neighbor (Burmese) and Levantines.

    I guess we can interpret that as lack of much geneflow between Bengalis and Burmese despite geographic proximity. In fact is it right to assume there’s racial hatred between the two? Or maybe just one way hatred directed at Bengalis? In my experience Bengalis are wonderful people, I don’t understand why Burmese hate them so much. I heard the term Burmese use to refer to Rohingyas translates to “black”. Probably they fear future mixing with Rohingyas changing pure Burmese DNA.

    1. “Probably they fear future mixing with Rohingyas changing pure Burmese DNA.”

      What would be the reaction of those ‘Anti-Rohingya’ Burmese when they will find out they are carrying 25% Bengali/Rohingya-like DNA? Politics and science don’t harmonize with each other, I presume.

  8. JKhan there is racism, but it goes both ways. bengalis have pretty casual racism against “chinese” looking people, though it’s not nasty

    burmese prejudice is rooted in several things

    1-bengalis engage in more intensive agricultural practices and so tend to marginalize burmese groups. they’re worried that burma is not demographically capable to withstanding them and will turn into bangladesh

    2-burmese are religious chauvinists, and are strongly attached to the idea that they are guardians of the purest theravada buddhist traditions. the islam of the rohingya threatens them naturally, and muslims have a reputation as aggressive and demanding as far as minorities go (look at india)

  9. I wonder which population is most distant to Bengalis….(west African Bantu groups)??

    And which ethnicity is closest (biharis)?

  10. I’ve always been surprised at how (relatively) uniform the East Asian autosomal numbers are across the eastern Bangladeshi (Bengali Muslim) samples I’ve come across – whether Sylhet, Dhaka, Comilla or Chittagong – give or take a few percent.

    Sure, some regions tend to be on the higher side like North Bengal / Rangpur and some from Chittagong, but I haven’t come across any samples which have significantly lower East Asian (from Bangladesh).

    A quick skim of my 23andme Bengali relatives/connections, and East Eurasian y-dna haplogroups are probably 15%.

    What does that suggest about the introgression of EA into proto Bengalis? Is it a time frame issue – pulse long ago (ie 1500 YBP) that has now become generally uniform though with some regional cline?

    One would think that with land clearance and settlement in these more eastern regions, local tribes would have been incorporated into a Bengali Muslim identity – if that is within the 400-500 year framework, why is there not more variation within local communities?

    Certainly in Sylhet, the memory of Khasi tribals living on the plains as opposed to the meghalaya hills is a mostly forgotten memory despite there being documented anglo-khasi wars in the early 1800s.

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