I-M170 and the Babylonian confusion of Y-Haplogroup names

Introduction

The child needs a name!
A clear one! An unmistakable one!
A Y-Haplogroup is a group of men, all descended from one man, a “forefather “, in a purely paternal line. We want to give this forefather a name and there are two different ways of doing this, both of which have their pitfalls and can lead to great confusion. The aim of this article is to show the possibilities for naming and the confusion potential.
My multiple “forefather” is I-M170. All my ancestors tested so far (via cousins) are his descendants (L38 and L621). Therefore I take this Y-Haplogroup as an example.

Y-Haplogroup I-M170

I-M170 is the oldest major haplogroup in Europe and most likely the only one that originated here, apart from sub-branches of other haplogroups.

Fig. 1: Pedigree of IJ-P214 (YFull.com)

The “father” of I-M170 is the haplogroup IJ-P124. The ancestors of I-M170 and J-M304 split about 43,000 years ago. The common ancestor of haplogroup I-M170 lived about 27,500 years ago. This is also where the first known split of the two main groups took place.
I1-M253 and I2-M438.

Fig. 2: Y-Heatmap of I-M170: I1 and I2. (Phylogeographer)

The highest distribution of I1-M253 is in northern Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries. The common ancestor of this haplogroup lived about 4600 years ago, according to YFull’s age estimate. The long “bottleneck” of over 20,000 years and over 300 SNPs is remarkable.

In I2-M438, on the other hand, there were several branches in the last 27,000 years. Depending on the respective subclade, there are completely different distributions across Europe. Fig. 2 shows the distribution of I1 and I2. I2 has not been subdivided again here. Anyone is welcome to look at the distributions for the individual subclades for themselves at Phylogeographer.

Fig. 3: Pedigree of I-M170

Figure 3 shows the pedigree of I-M170. The times for the TMRCA were taken from the age estimation of YFull.com. The number of tester of each haplogroup was taken from the public Y-tree of FamilyTreeDNA and shown proportionally as the base (height) of the triangles. A list of the SNPs used can be found in Table 2. Only branches formed by NGS tests of living testers are shown. Extinct branches from ancient DNA, such as the “Twins of Krems” (I-L758*) or Cheddar Man (S2524*) have been deliberately omitted to avoid additional confusion.

I-M170 prediction for FTDNA and Y-haplogroup projects

If you do a Y-STR test on FTDNA, you will get the values for the ordered STR and a predicted Y-haplogroup, which is very conservative. Typical predictions are I-M253, I-M223, I-P37 and in some cases only I-M170. You can get a more accurate determination yourself by entering the STR values into the Predictor at Nevgen.org.
If you only get I-M170 as prediction, it is because you either belong to a rare subgroup of I-M253, I-M223, I-P37 or to the rarer haplogroups I-L38, I-L417 and L596. In any case, I recommend joining the appropriate Y-haplogroup project. There, volunteer administrators can take a closer look at the STR values and make more precise predictions.

Main Projects at FTDNA:
All I-M170: I M170+ YDNA Haplogroup
M253: I1 yDNA Haplogroup
P37: I2a Y-Haplogroup
M223: I-M223 Y-DNA Haplogroup
L38: Haplogroup I-L38
L596 und L417: I2b I-L415, I2a2 (was I2c) I- L596

Naming the Y-haplogroup, ISOGG Long Form

Probably the best known form for naming Y-haplogroups is the “long form” maintained by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy) in their “Y-DNA Haplogroup Tree“. This consists of starting with a capital letter and then alternating between numbers and lower case letters. Until a few years ago, this was the most common name for Y-haplogroups. The advantage of this designation was that it was quite “figurative”. Even today, some still like to use the 2010 version. In the meantime, ten years have passed and the Y-tree has grown considerably due to the drop in prices for NGS tests. Table 1 shows an overview of the versions of the ISOGG trees of the last 14 years. One can see impressively how the long form designations have changed over the years.

Tree
version / SNP
M253L460>
P37
>
>
>
L158
>
>
M423
>
>
>
L161
>
>
>
L621
>
M436
>
>
M223
>
>
Y10705
>
>
>
L38
L596L417
2019/
2020
I1I2a1I2a1aI2a1a1aI2a1a2I2a1a2aI2a1a2bI2a1bI2a1b1I2a1b2I2a1b2aI2a2I2b
2018I1I2a1I2a1aI2a1a1aI2a1a2I2a1a2aI2a1a2bI2a1bI2a1b1I2a1b2I2a1b2aI2a2I2b
2017I1I2aI2a1I2a1a1I2a1bI2a1b1I2a1b2I2a2I2a2aI2a2bI2a2b1I2cI2b
2016I1I2aI2a1I2a1a1I2a1bI2a1b1I2a1b2I2a2I2a2aI2a2bI2cI2b
2015I1I2aI2a1I2a1a1I2a1bI2a1b1I2a1b2I2a2I2a2aI2a2bI2cI2b
2014I1I2aI2a1I2a1a1I2a1bI2a1b1I2a1b2I2a2I2a2aI2a2bI2cI2b
2013I1I2aI2a1I2a1aI2a1bI2a1b2I2a1b3I2a2I2a2aI2a2bI2cI2b
2012I1I2aI2a1I2a1aI2a1bI2a1b2I2a1b3I2a2I2a2aI2a2bI2cI2b
2011I1I2aI2a1I2a1aI2a1bI2a1b2I2a2I2a2aI2a2bI2cI2b
2010I1I2aI2a1I2a2I2a2bI2bI2b1I2b2
2009I1I2aI2a1bI2a2I2a2aI2bI2b1I2b2
2008I1I2aI2a2I2bI2b1I2b2
2007I1aI1b1I1b2I1b2a
2006I1aI1b1I1b2I1b2a
Pre 2006I1aI1bI1c
Tab. 1: Comparison of ISOGG trees from 2006 to 2020 (First column, links to ISOGG.org. First row, links to YFull.com)

  • I2a is no longer only P37, but almost all I-M170 except M253 and L417.
  • I2b is no longer M436, but L417.
  • I2a1b is no longer M423 but M436, the previous I2b.
  • I2a1b2 is no longer L621, but Y10705, “father” of L38.
  • I2a2, still L423 in 2010, was M436 for 7 years and is now L596.

This is just a small excerpt from the “long form” name confusion. Without specifying which version was used, this naming is not unique. If you use it, you should always specify the year for the version. In this way, it is possible to determine in retrospect which Y-haplogroup it is, even if changes have been made to the tree in the meantime.

Naming the Y-haplogroup after a SNP

Another form of naming for Y-haplogroups is naming after a SNP. This is not “figurative” but unambiguous if only SNPs are used that do not occur in other haplogroups. However, there is some confusion here.
A SNP can have multiple names and the haplogroups in the trees can have different names.

Naming the SNPs:

If new variants are added to the tree, they are named by the person who “discovered” them. Depending on the “discoverer”, different prefixes are used. The most common ones at the moment are:

  • A = YSEQ.net
  • BY = Big Y-500 from FTDNA
  • FGC = Full Genomes Corp. (FGC)
  • FT = Big Y-700 from FTDNA
  • Y = YFull.com

A complete list of prefixes is available at ISOGG.org.

It can happen that SNPs are “discovered” and named by several at the same time, so that one and the same SNP has several names. These are often written together with a slash (e.g. M436/P214/PF3856/S33).

Naming the Y-haplogroups, after a SNP of a block

Y-haplogroups are defined by several SNPs. Until the mutation order of the SNPs is determined, they are referred to as phyloequivalent SNPs, i.e. they are equivalent in that block. In the case of M253, there are even another 309 SNPs (Table 2) that would be eligible for the designation of I1. However, the haplogroup is uniformly named I-M253 in all Y-trees.

2020
Long Form
ISOGG
SNP
FTDNA
SNP

SNP
YFull
+ SNPs

TMRCA
IM170/PF3715M170M17019827500
I1M253M253I13094600
I2M438/P215/PF3853/S31P215I26521500
I2aCTS1799/PF3698/Z2645CTS2257
I2a1L460/PF3647/S238L460L460421000
I2a1aP37.2/PF4004P37P372718400
I2a1a1CTS595CTS595CTS595118300
I2a1a2M423M423M4234614000
A20188Y24694901400
CTS53213Y31042911400
I2a1a2aL161.1/S185.1L161L161497200
I2a1a2bL621/S392L621L621626500
I2a1a2b1CTS10936CTS10936CTS1093655500
S19848S1984805500
BY54321Y85772173400
I2a1a2b1aCTS4002CTS4002CTS400215000
I2a1a2b1a2FGC20479FGC20479FGC2047954100
Y44771Y44940292200
I2a1a2b1a1CTS5966CTS10228CTS10228253400
BY90584Y81696191550
I2a1a2b1a1aS9952/YP189S20602Y312082100
I2a1a2b2A17060BY37319Y45825312000
I2a1bM436/P214/PF3856/S33P214M4365617000
I2a1b1M223M223M2237014100
I2a1b1aCTS616CTS616CTS616710100
I2a1b1a1FGC15073/Y3721FGC15071Y3721210100
I2a1b1a1aM284M284M284426900
I2a1b1a1bZ2057BY1003Y3670338500
I2a1b1a2CTS10057CTS10057CTS100571410100
I2a1b1bS9403/SK1254S9403Y6098497800
I2a2b2FGC29562/Y10705S11321Y107207112200
I2a1b2aL38/S154L38L38974400
I2a2L596/PF6907/S292L596L5966816400
FGC18596Y141582013600
BY160929Y14158*
I2a2aPF6915PF3892S66353410100
I2a2a1S6716Y533429700
I2a2a2BY431Z26435PF38855210000
I2a2bPH2569BY421Y164191453100
I2bL415/S435L417
Tab. 2: SNPs in the ISOGG, YFull and FTDNA trees.

In the Y-trees (ISOGG, FTDNA and YFull), there are no consistent rules for labeling the haplogroup, so that different SNPs can be used for the same haplogroup. This is the case with Y3120 (see Table 2). There are eight other SNPs in the block. Of these, three different SNPs are used at ISOGG, FTDNA and YFull to name this subgroup.
At ISOGG S9952/YP189, at YFull Y3120 and at FTDNA S20602.
The second name of SNP Y3120 is FGC12083. The second name of SNP S20602 is YP196.
That is a total of six SNPs for I2a1a2b1a1a (2020).

Fig. 4: SNP block for Y haplogroup Y3120 (YFull.com)

Conclusion

A unique and unmistakable name for the common ancestor of a Y-haplogroup can only be obtained with the “long form” if everyone is aware of which version of the ISOGG tree they are dealing with. Also, the strings can get very long when naming young branches. In my case, this would be I2a1b2a2b2b1 (2020). This is not very long compared to other haplogroups, but for me it is not pictorial, nor can I or will I remember it.
I prefer to use the SNP. I-Y130323, subgroup of I-L38.
If someone has no idea what this means, all they have to do is press the SNP search at YFull and they will have this within a few seconds.

Fig. 5: Y130323, subclade of the Y haplogroup I-L38 (YFull.com)

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