Science Saturday

My Genographic KitI’m taking a geno-journey. I’m a bit late to the game but I caught a rerun of the National Geographic documentary Journey of Man on PBS earlier this week, which sparked my interest in Spencer Wells‘ Genographic Project. In the 2003 documentary, geneticist Wells traces our DNA to a single man who lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago. In 2005, the Genographic Project was launched to collect DNA samples from people across the globe.

The project traces human migration through DNA, and is keenly interested in collecting samples from indigenous people in remote areas before the world’s genetic codes are completely scrambled. For $100, you can discover your own genetic history over thousands of generations. Though Pigspittle isn’t as remote as, say, the Arctic Circle, I signed up. Soon I’ll receive a kit from National Geographic that will enable me to take my own DNA sample and submit it to one of the Genographic Project centers. Two months later, the results will reveal which path my ancestors took from Africa. I suspect it was one sidetracked by excessive drinking, stumbling into Roman bacchanalia and winding up in England with a massive hangover just in time for the demise of all those fun pagan rites.

AGGCAT…Speaking of DNA, Stephen Colbert recently presented a Special Report—DNA: Could It Happen to You?—and featured a very special Prescott Education Films documentary called “DNA: Spiral Staircase to You.” Watch and learn. (Incidentally, Spencer Wells happens to appear on this very episode of the Colbert Report.)

5 Comments Science Saturday

  1. Miss-Black August 21, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Holy crap! I was just watching this:
    last weekend and they did DNA testing on a bunch of African American celebrities. Then they could figure out not only what part of Africa their families came from, but what other ethnic groups had contributed to their family and in what amounts. It was so cool. I kept telling Mr. Black, “I want to do that!” I didn’t realize I actually could.

    I really want to know how yours turns out. I’m off to the NG website to figure this all out. Personally, I suspect that there is a perceptible amount of non-Europeans in my lineage. But it could just be Southern Europeans, I guess. Either way, I want to know!

  2. Miss-Black August 29, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    You know, I left a comment on this post the day after you posted it. I guess it didn’t show up.

    It basically said that this is exactly what I want for my birthday. I want two of them. One for a maternal line and one for a paternal. I think I may end up asking Mr Black to get it for me for Christmas.

  3. Meg August 30, 2007 at 8:42 am

    I got my test materials last week and finally did the swab thing so I’m ready to send it in. Sadly, Miss B, women can only have the maternal lineage (mDNA) tested. Men can have both. Screwed by biology again!

  4. Miss-Black August 30, 2007 at 10:50 am

    That’s ridiculous! So I guess I’d have to get my boy tested if I wanted to know anything about my dad? That’s what I want to know. My mom has genealogical records for her family going back to the 1770’s. I can’t imagine there would be a whole lot of surprises before that time. But my dad is a mystery wrapped in an enigma covered in a conspicuously dark complexion.

    I think I’m going to do it anyway. If I do it and then I get my own mother to do it will the outcomes be appreciably different? I think this is all totally awesome, if you couldn’t tell. I’m terribly curious to see how yours turns out.

    I saw this:
    a couple of weeks ago and I was totally engrossed. I immediately told Mr Black, “I want to do this!”

  5. Meg August 30, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    I saw that too! It was fascinating.

    I’ve got the same problem in my family–lots of info about my mom, very little about my dad. I’m not sure if having your son tested would show your dad’s side. The problem with women is that we don’t have a Y chromosome.

    I found a FAQ link about this question on the Genographic Project site:


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