The Misadventures of Kai and Pixel »

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My father is a cro-magnon

Well, for that matter, I am cro-magnon too it turns out.

As part of my journey into my origins, I thought it might be fun to have my DNA tested to see where exactly I did come from. This is becoming quite common in genealogy circles and the tests are getting better and cheaper so more people are doing it. Basically, based on mutations in your DNA, the test can show you the migratory path of your ancestors over thousands of years. The test really has very little to say about your ancestors within living memory, although some people are using these tests in conjunction with their family trees to try to fill in the gaps. From what I can tell, however, this doesn’t seem to work (for reasons I will explain below) unless you spend more money for higher resolution tests.

I decided to use the Genographic Project at National Geographic, partly because they are using the samples to try to develop a more thorough database of human DNA. (By the way, they go out of the way to make the process anonymous and they don’t even know your name — no Machiavellian stuff going on here!)

One of the limitations of the DNA approach is that you can only test the migratory path of your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s, etc. or your father’s father’s father’s etc. Think of me as a tree trunk and the branches are my ancestors. DNA can only trace the two outer branches. In other words, there is still lots of branches in between which aren’t looked at.

If you are a woman, you can only test your maternal line because the paternal testing is done on the Y chromosome, of which we have none. Men can test both lines. Fortunately, for me, my dad agreed to participate in this little test so I was able to do my maternal line, and through my father, my paternal line. Now if we wanted to, my dad could also test his maternal line — maybe that will be his Christmas gift.

So here are the results:

This is my maternal line. Africa, Asia, Europe. I was hoping for some Viking ancestry, but alas I share the same maternal DNA with 70% of other Europeans. Chances are I am related to everyone who reads this blog.

Here is my paternal line:

Africa, Asia, Europe. As Andreas said, he could have told me that. Again, this migratory path is shared by 70% of Europeans and 90% of Irish and Spanish men. What made my father happy was that he was a descendant of the cro-magnon and not the neanderthals.

While this was an interesting exercise, it didn’t quite give me the thrill that traditional genealogy does. I like the stories more than the science. My father, on the other hand, was really interested in the results, particularly his Asian roots.

If you really are related to me, these maps also apply to you. Here’s to deep roots!

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