Journey Across Eurasia and the Americas – Updating the Q-L53 (xM3) Tree

Q-L53 is the parent to many Y-DNA Q branches in Europe, Asia, the Americas. While its Q-M3 branch is well known as the highest frequency branch of Y-DNA Q in the Americas, it is not the only one. Many other branches have their own geographies and their own stories.

Thus, we are building a SNP Panel for those who are Q-L53 but not Q-M3, that is, they are Q-L53 (xM3). The steps are the same as in my first Q-M3 tree update post. The first draft of the tree is below.

Meanwhile, I will fill in a little of the back story on two important branches within Q-L53: Q-Z780 and Q-L804.

The Anzick Child & Q-Z780

The story of the Anzick Child and Q-Z780 took place in several stages.

While data mining 1K Genomes data for new Y-SNPs, Ray Banks discovered the Q-Z780 lineage. This was a new Q lineage in the Americas apart from the well established Q-M3. The samples with which he was working were from Central and South America. At the time, the magnitude of the discovery went largely without notice. It was a discovery though that could change our understanding of the number of migrations that took place to the Americas and their timing.

The project began slowly testing members who had traditions of Native ancestry but who were not Q-M3 for it. Interestingly, many from the Southeastern United States came back positive. The launch of FamilyTreeDNA’s BIG Y product speed up this process.

Then Rasmussen et al., 2014 was published. The authors sequenced the ancient DNA of a small boy who lived over 10,000 years ago in what is now Montana. The authors connected him to the Clovis culture. That he belonged to Y-DNA Q confirmed this culture’s connection to Native peoples.

The authors missed something though. The child was not only Q; he was Q-Z780. Q-Z780 is something of an uncle branch to Q-M3, and its members are most definitely not the ancestors of Q-M3.

The project found this when YFull –Thanks Vladimir!– reprocessed the child’s Y-DNA results and compared it to other Q samples. Importantly, it affirms that Q-Z780 is an early male lineage in Native Americans. This is critical when so many other Y-DNA Q lines were brought to the Americas by Europeans and others after 1492.

It also creates an intriguing link between the Clovis culture, some of the inhabitants of modern Central America, and Native peoples in the Southeast. The map below shows where the Q-Z780 lineage is was found in the over 10,000 year old Anzick child (green) and modern populations (blue).



Q-L804 was one of the project’s first Walk Through the Y discoveries. It defines a major Nordic branch of Y-DNA Q. Q-L804 is found as far west as Iceland and as far East as Sweden. It skims the shorelines of France. It is also a puzzle, because it is the brother clade to Q-M3.


Jakob Norstedt-Moberg is leading investigations into Q-L804 lineages. He is both a co-administrator of the Y-DNA Q project and the administrator of the Nordic Q project. He does an amazing job.

The Initial Draft of the New Q-L53 (xM3) Tree

Thank you for being part of the project.

Best Regards,
R.A. Canada and the Q-M242 Team


2 thoughts on “Journey Across Eurasia and the Americas – Updating the Q-L53 (xM3) Tree”

  1. Rebekah,

    Thank you for a most informative paper on Q-Z780. I see my ID is recorded under YP1109 which was assigned to me by YFull’s additional interpretation of my BIG Y results. My FTDNA recently changed from Q-Z780 to Q-CTS1780 so will that change to Q-YP1109 in due course? I understand that is is now thought my ancestry lies in Central rather than North America. Still in search of a match!

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