Vikings not purely Scandinavian and many were dark-haired, claims genetic study

viking ship sailing
Credit: Life in Norway

Vikings were far from a single group of flaxen-haired, sea-faring Scandinavians.

A genetic study of Viking-age human remains has not only confirmed that Vikings from different parts of Scandinavia set sail for different parts of the world, but has revealed that dark hair was more common among Vikings than Danes today.

What’s more, while some were born Vikings, others adopted the culture – or perhaps had it thrust upon them.

“Vikings were not restricted to blond Scandinavians,” said Prof Eske Willerslev, a co-author of the research from the University of Cambridge and the University of Copenhagen.

Writing in the journal Nature, Willerslev and colleagues report how they sequenced the genomes of 442 humans who lived across Europe between about 2,400BC and 1,600AD, with the majority from the Viking age – a period that stretched from around 750AD to 1050AD.

Related article:  Believe it or not, Neanderthals were both athletic and artsy

Among their results the team found that from the iron age, southern European genes entered Denmark and then spread north, while – to a lesser extent – genes from Asia entered Sweden.

“Vikings are, genetically, not purely Scandinavian,” said Willerslev.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

“[Being a Viking] is not a pure ethnic phenomenon, it is a lifestyle that you can adopt whether you are non-Scandinavian or Scandinavian,” said Willerslev, adding that genetic influences from abroad both before and during the Viking age might help explain why genetic variants for dark hair were relatively common among Vikings.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: What are mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and how do they work?

Infographic: What are mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and how do they work?

As of 1 December 2020, thirteen vaccines have reached the final stage of testing: where they are being given to ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend