Maternal lineage of the Koraga tribe correlates with its North Dravidian linguistic affinity

A recent study conducted by the researchers of Mangalore University found that the Koraga language shares inherited grammatical features with North Dravidian languages. A linguistic similarity with Brahui which is 2000 km away in Pakistan.

The study was conducted on the maternal genome of Koragas shows that the U1 haplogroup found in this tribe acts as a tracer dye for its linguistic lineage. It shows that that Koraga represents a mother tongue retained by a vanquished population group that fled southward at the demise of the Indus civilisation as opposed to a father tongue, associated with a particular paternal lineage.

One of the lead authors, Jaison Sequeira, says “The Koragas are a unique population. Their genome informs us about at least two crucial timescales of the past. The maternal gene pool dates back to the Late Pleistocene and the paternal gene pool goes back further to the pre-LGM era when the autochthonous paternal lineages formed in the Indian subcontinent”. The corresponding author of this study, Prof. Mustak MS, Chairman of the Department of Applied Zoology, Mangalore University adds, “These ancient tribes serve as a good proxy in the absence of ancient DNA from south India”.

Koraga tribe which is mainly found in parts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka, Kasaragod district of Kerala, and in small numbers in adjoining districts of Shivamogga and Kodagu in Uttara Kannada. They are one of the poorest and most marginalised populations in South Kanara.

Prof. em. Dr. George van Driem, a world renowned linguist and co-author of this article, states that “The ethnolinguistic complexity of Indian populations presents a prehistorical puzzle which is fascinating to piece together”.The paper was co-authored by Jaison Sequeira, Dr. M S Mustak, Dr. George van Driem (University of Bern, Switzerland), Dr. Vinuthalakshmi and Dr. Ranajit Das (Yenepoya Deemed to be University) and is published in Frontiers in Genetics.

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