The results are in! Let’s just say it was a really long walk. All of us can be traced back to Africa 150,000 years ago. Then various groups wandered off in different directions. My people trudged off to West Africa and hung out there for a long time. Then, about 80,000 years ago, one of my matrilineal ancestors had a DNA mutation and eventually her clan headed north. We wandered into the Mediterranean region, and may have even met up with a Neandertal or two. (I wish I could ask them!)
Finally we get to the branch of my tree which split off about 50,000 years ago with another mutation. My matrilineal line crossed the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia – a tough hike and one I can’t imagine making unless ice cream had been invented and was just on the other side.
The Genographic Project produced a very detailed report of our DNA, including which genes mutated along the way and a map of our ancestors’ migrations. If you’re geeky like me, you will love participating in the Genographic Project. It’s fascinating!
Steve got us the coolest gifts for Christmas. They’re kits that allows us to participate in National Geographic’s Genographic Project. As the site explains, “Where do you really come from? And how did you get to where you live today? DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who—about 60,000 years ago—began a remarkable journey.”
Each kit includes a map and DVD telling about the Genographic Project and what’s been discovered to date. The story of the science and research is absolutely astounding!
By submitting samples of our DNA, using a simple swab inside our cheeks, the Project will tell us the story of our own ancestors’ migration. The Project is careful to explain that no medical research is done on the DNA, and all the samples are anonymous. Nor are the results genealogical. They simply tell us where our ancestors came from, going back thousands of years. Let’s just say it involved a whole lot of walking over the centuries! Our samples will help add data points the the project to help complete the picture of the human family tree.
How is this possible? Mutations have occurred over the centuries in certain markers in DNA. They take place in a specific order, which means the switches in markers can be tracked back over time. Even where physical archaeological evidence has been wiped out by glaciers and/or rising water levels along the oceans, the changes in DNA help to track populations’ wanderings across the globe.
The kits come with unique identification codes which we use to track our samples on the website. My DNA is now being isolated, which means its going through some chemical washing and soaking. The next step is the analysis. I can’t wait to find out where my ancient ancestors migrated from!
There are some good YouTube videos if you’d like to explore further, starting with this introduction: