The paternal haplogroup (hg) N is distributed from southeast Asia to eastern Europe. The demographic processes that have shaped the vast extent of this major Y chromosome lineage across numerous linguistically and autosomally divergent populations have previously been unresolved. On the basis of 94 high-coverage re-sequenced Y chromosomes, we establish and date a detailed hg N phylogeny. We evaluate geographic structure by using 16 distinguishing binary markers in 1,631 hg N Y chromosomes from a collection of 6,521 samples from 56 populations. The more southerly distributed sub-clade N4 emerged before N2a1 and N3, found mostly in the north, but the latter two display more elaborate branching patterns, indicative of regional contrasts in recent expansions. In particular, a number of prominent and well-defined clades with common N3a3'6 ancestry occur in regionally dissimilar northern Eurasian populations, indicating almost simultaneous regional diversification and expansion within the last 5,000 years. This patrilineal genetic affinity is decoupled from the associated higher degree of language diversity.
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