Sunday, November 29, 2009

Where Do You Come From?

A few years ago, I found the perfect birthday gift for my husband -- a DNA test kit from the National Geographic Genographic Project. Following simple instructions, he did a simple cheek swab (just like the T.V. show, CSI) to provide a DNA sample, put the swabs into the enclosed transport tubes, and mailed the tubes to the lab in the supplied envelope. Several weeks later, he received a report based on the analysis of his DNA and a map showing the migration of his ancestors -- from Africa through the Middle East and finally to Eastern Europe, the most recent location and birthplace of his grandparents.

According to the Genographic Project , the results "reveal your deep ancestry along a single line of direct descent (paternal or maternal) and show the migration paths they followed thousands of years ago. Your results will also place you on a particular branch of the human family tree. Some anthropological stories are more detailed than others, depending upon the lineage you belong to. For example, if you are of African descent, your results will show the initial movements of your ancestors on the African continent, but will not reflect most of the migrations that have occurred within the past 10,000 years. Your individual results may confirm your expectations of what you believe your deep ancestry to be, or you may be surprised to learn a new story about your genetic background. This is not a genealogy study. You will not learn about your great-grandparents or other recent relatives, and your DNA trail will not necessarily lead to your present-day location. Rather, your results will reveal the anthropological story of your direct maternal or paternal ancestors—where they lived and how they migrated around the world many thousands of years ago.

In this video, Dr. Spencer Wells of the Genographic Project explains the project in more detail. He takes you to Grand Central Station in New York City to meet with four strangers with different backgrounds who discover they are more similar and more connected than you might think.

For more information or to participate in the project, go to:

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