Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Test your ancestry!

Have your mtDNA or Y-chromosome DNA analyzed to determine your genetic lineage! All it takes is $99 and a swab of cells from the inside of your mouth.

One of my colleagues teaches in a department where the mantra "there is no scientific basis for race" has been repeated for a generation now. I told him I would volunteer to do the test if he would use the results to teach his students about the subject. Gee, I wonder if I am descended from Genghis Khan's line (which includes an estimated 16 million living people, mostly in Asia). (See related post here.)

The National Geographic Society, IBM, geneticist Spencer Wells, and the Waitt Family Foundation have launched the Genographic Project, a five-year effort to understand the human journey—where we came from and how we got to where we live today. This unprecedented effort will map humanity's genetic journey through the ages.

The fossil record fixes human origins in Africa, but little is known about the great journey that took Homo sapiens to the far reaches of the Earth. How did we, each of us, end up where we are? Why do we appear in such a wide array of different colors and features?

Such questions are even more amazing in light of genetic evidence that we are all related—descended from a common African ancestor who lived only 60,000 years ago.

Though eons have passed, the full story remains clearly written in our genes—if only we can read it. With your help, we can.

When DNA is passed from one generation to the next, most of it is recombined by the processes that give each of us our individuality.

But some parts of the DNA chain remain largely intact through the generations, altered only occasionally by mutations which become "genetic markers." These markers allow geneticists like Spencer Wells to trace our common evolutionary timeline back through the ages.

"The greatest history book ever written," Wells says, "is the one hidden in our DNA."


Anonymous said...

it is not 99$ but 126$ for us Europeans. Shipping costs apart. This NG people do know how to make money!!!
I bet the real cost is at least inflated by a shameless 300%

Anonymous said...

Moreover, where are members "indigenous populations" around the world supposed to get the $100 required to participate? I guess they need this money to cover much more primary needs. This price is expensive even for an Europoean who pays in €!!!

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