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Bene Israel: Study of Jewish community living in India

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A family of the Bene Israel community in India. Image source: wordpress.com
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The Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, in a letter written 800 years ago (circa 1200 CE), briefly mentioned a Jewish community living in India. It is anticipated that he referred to the Bene Israel community.

The Bene Israel community in West India is a unique community whose historical background before the 18th century other than their oral history remains largely unknown.

Oral history among Bene Israel holds that they are descendants of Jews whose ship wrecked on the Konkan shore, with only seven men and seven women surviving. Adding to the vagueness of Bene Israel origin is the fact that a similar story of seven surviving couples is found in the oral histories of other Indian populations.

Here is the Abstract of the Reasearch Article “The Genetics of Bene Israel from India Reveals Both Substantial Jewish and Indian Ancestry”:

Bene Israel members consider themselves as descendants of Jews, yet the identity of Jewish ancestors and their arrival time to India are unknown, with speculations on arrival time varying between the 8th century BCE and the 6th century CE.

Here, we characterize the genetic history of Bene Israel by collecting and genotyping 18 Bene Israel individuals. Combining with 486 individuals from 41 other Jewish, Indian and Pakistani populations, and additional individuals from worldwide populations, we conducted comprehensive genome-wide analyses based on FST, principal component analysis, ADMIXTURE, identity-by-descent sharing, admixture linkage disequilibrium decay, haplotype sharing and allele sharing autocorrelation decay, as well as contrasted patterns between the X chromosome and the autosomes.

The genetics of Bene Israel individuals resemble local Indian populations while at the same time constituting a clearly separated and unique population in India. They are unique among Indian and Pakistani populations we analyzed in sharing considerable genetic ancestry with other Jewish populations.

Putting together the results from all analyses point to Bene Israel being an admixed population with both Jewish and Indian ancestry, with the genetic contribution of each of these ancestral populations being substantial. The admixture took place in the last millennium, about 19–33 generations ago. It involved Middle-Eastern Jews and was sex-biased, with more male Jewish and local female contribution. It was followed by a population bottleneck and high endogamy, which can lead to increased prevalence of recessive diseases in this population.

This study provides an example of how genetic analysis advances our knowledge of human history in cases where other disciplines lack the relevant data to do so.

(The paper was originally published in plos.org. Read full paper here)

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Overweight And Normal Dogs Behavior Similar To Humans

The behavior had possible parallels with overweight people

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A Labrador retriever named Jack dines at a pet restaurant in San Juan, Manila, Philippines, Sept. 6, 2014.
A Labrador retriever named Jack dines at a pet restaurant in San Juan, Manila, Philippines, Sept. 6, 2014. VOA

Researchers in Hungary who found that normal and overweight dogs behaved differently in tasks involving food say the dogs’ responses were similar to those that might be expected from normal and overweight humans.

The study suggested dogs could be used as models for future research into the causes and psychological impact of human obesity, the authors of the paper from Budapest’s ELTE University said.

Researchers put two bowls — one holding a good meal, the other empty or containing less attractive food — in front of a series of dogs.

The study found that canines of a normal weight continued obeying instructions to check the second bowl for food, but the obese ones refused after a few rounds.

“We expected the overweight dog to do anything to get food, but in this test, we saw the opposite. The overweight dogs took a negative view,” test leader Orsolya Torda said.

Dog
Dog, Pixabay

“If a situation is uncertain and they cannot find food, the obese dogs are unwilling to invest energy to search for food — for them, the main thing is to find the right food with least energy involved.”

The behavior had possible parallels with overweight people who see food as a reward, said the paper, which was published in the Royal Society Open Science journal. (VOA)

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