Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Genetic Journey

For my birthday, I got a kit from National Geographic's Genographic Project. For $99, you can submit a cheek swab and have the DNA of either your maternal or paternal lines analyzed. (Women will have to settle for just the maternal line.)

I had my paternal line done this year; next year, maybe I'll have the maternal line done.

The results are in, and they're not a surprise. I'm a member of Haplogroup E3b1, which, the project says, " is most heavily represented in Mediterranean populations. Approximately 10 percent of the men in Spain belong to this haplogroup, as do 12 percent of the men in northern Italy, and 13 percent of the men in central and southern Italy. Roughly 20 percent of the men in Sicily belong to this group. In the Balkans and Greece, between 20 to 30 percent of the men belong to E3b, as do nearly 75 percent of the men in North Africa. The haplogroup is rarely found in India or East Asia. Around 10 percent of all European men trace their descent to this line. For example, in Ireland, 3 to 4 percent of the men belong; in England, 4 to 5 percent; Hungary, 7 percent; and Poland, 8 to 9 percent. Nearly 25 percent of Jewish men belong to this haplogroup."

Here's how my ancestors are believed to have moved around from about 60,000 years ago to about 20,000 years ago.

Of course, since this data reflects only my father's father's father's .... father, it doesn't tell me about most of my ancestors. But it's still oddly moving to contemplate.

Sadly, some Native Americans are opposed to the Genographic Project, because learning about their ancestry "can clash with long-held beliefs".


Amy© said...

Oh, that is neat-o! Thanks! :D

Harriet said...

"Sadly, some Native Americans are opposed to the Genographic Project, because learning about their ancestry "can clash with long-held beliefs". "

Good ol' religion strikes again! :)

Erdos56 said...

My wife and I had this done several years back when it was a bit more expensive and experimental. One thing to watch out for false positives on the associations. I'm sure you have sufficient mathematical sophistication to avoid that, but others have been a bit too eager to read out implausible associations in their results.

Also, if you get back the forensic short tandem repeating sequence numbers, be aware that that is what is used in law enforcement, so your records can either help ID your body later on or convict you if you feel a crime spree brewing.

Alex said...

Isn't this project amazing? I picked up two of these kits in October, but haven't used them yet. I thought I'd offer them as a Christmas gift to my parents - one which the entire family could share. Hopefully they'll be as excited about it as I am :)

VV said...

Congratulations on your new results. If you're interested in learning a little more about haplogroup E3b you may want to save this link: The E-M35 Phylogeny Project

Anonymous said...

Sadly, some Native Americans are opposed to the Genographic Project, because learning about their ancestry "can clash with long-held beliefs".

I couldn't help but laugh at this. Of course, if they don't like the findings, they could just deny reality like other religiots: By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts our Beloved Fairytale.

Anonymous said...

Native American opposition to the Genographic Project does not clash with long-held religious beliefs but with their belief that they were here first, that they are the original settlers of North America.

Jeffrey Shallit said...


Just who do you think was "here first", if not the native Americans?

I stand by my statement. Some native Americans are concerned because the Genographic Project's data indicates that they came to North America via a migration route, rather than simply being in one place for all time. The stories of their origin are part of their religion.

You would know this if you had bothered to click on the link I provided. Here's an excerpt: "To tribe members raised to believe the Grand Canyon is humanity’s birthplace, the suggestion that their own DNA says otherwise was deeply disturbing."

Anonymous said...

Of course, what does Native American mean. I was born in American, thus I am a Native American?