"Super Father" Genghis Khan
has up to 16 million male descendants
The Mongolian leader Genghis Khan was known to have fathered
many children with different women. One study suggests that up to 10 other
men in Asian history have rivaled the procreative prowess of Khan. Unfortunately,
except for this one ruler, we don’t know the names of any of the other
A study in 2003 found that up to 16 million men, half
a percent of the world’s male population, were genetic descendants of Genghis
Khan. Even more astounding was that up to 8 percent of men living within
the former area of the Mongol empire have Y chromosomes related to that
royal line. The line of descent goes back around 1,000 years.
Only the men are counted in this study because of its
dependence on the Y chromosome for lineage analysis.
The Mongol Empire at its peak ruled a vast area from China
to Iran, and parts of Russia extending into Europe. Only the size of the
later British Empire eclipsed it.
Genghis Khan and Toghrul Khan,
illustration from a 15th-century Jami’ al-tawarikh
The genetic findings are seen by researchers as proof
of the influence that an individual with many offspring can have on a species.
It is also known as sex-based natural selection. Genghis Khan was born
around 1162 in Mongolia. He first married at age 16 but took many other
wives and mistresses during his lifetime. Khan’s first wife, Borte, gave
birth to four sons who became heirs to the dynasty.
Genghis Khan entering Beijing
Under Genghis Khan, the Mongol army aggressively expanded
through Asia. With massive armies at their disposal, the Mongols experienced
success under Khan, attributed to the rapid movements of cavalrymen during
battle. Tactics employed by Genghis Khan and his army were brutal. Each
time a new city was conquered, large segments of the population, both human
and animal, were slaughtered.
Genghis Khan statue at Chinggis Square
(Sukhbaatar Square) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Survivors were subjected to pillage and rape. Some were
used as human shields in front of the Mongol army during subsequent attacks.
After conquering a territory, Genghis Khan would get the first pick of
women to add to his harem. Some estimates suggest he impregnated over 1,000
But it’s unknown how many children he fathered. Khan died
in 1227, possibly from fatigue or respiratory disease.
The heirs to Genghis Khan were also prolific. One of
his children was thought to have had 40 sons of his own by wives and concubines,
with an unknown number of children from many other women. These children
of Khan having had many more children helped to expand his genetic legacy
across the continent.
Genghis Khan proclaimed Khagan of all Mongols
Illustration from a 15th-century Jami’ al-tawarikh
Another historically prolific father was a ruler of the
Ming Dynasty in China named Giocannga. His modern-day genetic offspring
are estimated at 1.5 million men in modern northern China. Giocannga died
in 1583. Like Genghis Khan, he also had numerous wives and concubines who
gave birth. Giocannga’s legacy lived on as his grandson would establish
the Qing Dynasty that ruled China between 1644 and 1912.
Genghis Khan monument in Ulaanbatar, Mongolia,
in front of the parliament.
The other men with multiple descendants are still a mystery.
They are all believed to have originated in regions located from the Middle
East to Southeast Asia and lived earlier than Khan or Giocannga, between
2100 BC and 1100 AD.
The world’s largest equestrian statue.
The leader of Mongolia, Genghis Khan.
Of the sample of 5,000 men tested in this genetic study,
37.8 percent belonged to one of these other male lineages. Encompassing
the entire population of Asia, that would mean that around 830 million
men owe their Y-chromosomes to one of these men.
One possible theory on who they were is that these men
may have been less powerful rulers who governed mini-empires along the
famous Silk Road trade routes. These trading cities were important for
commerce between the various empires and kingdoms.
Statue at the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, Xinjie Town,
a memorial built in 1954 to commemorate the ancient
The high reproductive success of these rulers is attributed
to high social status, a greater number of wives, and lower offspring mortality.
The increasing use of horses for transportation also allowed for transmission
of their genes to widespread locations. The only way to discover the identities
of the anonymous fathers would be to find burial remains and extract their
DNA. That is unlikely to ever happen. Even the tomb of Genghis Khan is
unknown, despite attempts to discover it.
~ REF: Vintage News