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Genealogy Blog

22 January 2015

DNA Tests Suggest Kennewick Man Was Native American

Nearly two decades after the ancient skeleton called Kennewick Man was discovered on the banks of the Columbia River, the mystery of his origins appears to be nearing resolution.

Genetic analysis is still under way in Denmark, but documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act say preliminary results point to a Native-American heritage.

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19 January 2015

DNA Tests Prove Scots Clan Are Viking not Irish

DNA tests on a Scottish clan have destroyed their claim to royal Irish ancestry – and proved they are Vikings.

For centuries the MacNeil clan based on the Hebridean island of Barra have claimed to be descendants of a Ireland’s “greatest” King, Niall of the Nine Hostages. But hundreds of cheek swabs taken from Barra MacNeils as far away as Canada and Australia have proved that the blood of fierce Norse raiders runs through their veins.

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30 December 2014

Blue-Eyed Humans Have a Single, Common Ancestor

New research shows that people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor. Scientists have tracked down a genetic mutation which took place 6,000-10,000 years ago and is the cause of the eye color of all blue-eyed humans alive on the planet today.

"Originally, we all had brown eyes," said Professor Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. "But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a "switch," which literally "turned off" the ability to produce brown eyes."

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11 December 2014

Parchment's Hidden Stories Revealed

Millions of documents stored in archives could provide scientists with the key to tracing the development of agriculture in the British Isles over the last 700 years, according to new research at the University of York and Trinity College Dublin.

But the crucial information the documents hold is not contained in their texts but the parchment on which it is written. Researchers in Dublin and York used the latest scientific techniques to extract ancient DNA and protein from tiny samples of parchment from documents from the late 17th and late 18th centuries.

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9 December 2014

Viking Women Colonized New Lands, Too

Vikings may have been family men who traveled with their wives to new lands, according to a new study of ancient Viking DNA.

Maternal DNA from ancient Norsemen closely matches that of modern-day people in the North Atlantic isles, particularly from the Orkney and Shetland Islands. The findings suggest that both Viking men and women sailed on the ships to colonize new lands.

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3 December 2014

Richard III's DNA Throws Up Infidelity Surprise

Analysis of DNA from Richard III has thrown up a surprise: evidence of infidelity in his family tree. Scientists who studied genetic material from remains found in a Leicester car park say the finding might have profound historical implications.

Depending on where in the family tree it occurred, it could cast doubt on the Tudor claim to the English throne or, indeed, on Richard's.

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14 November 2014

First Europeans 'Weathered Ice Age'

The genetic ancestry of the earliest Europeans survived the ferocious Ice Age that took hold after the continent was initially settled by modern people.

That is the suggestion of a study of DNA from a male hunter who lived in western Russia 36,000 years ago. His genome is not exactly like those of people who lived in Europe just after the ice sheets melted 10,000 years ago.

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7 October 2014

Who Are the Welsh? Mass Genetic Testing To Find Out Nation's Ancestry

CymruDNAWales will carry out an unprecedented mass survey of Wales’s ancestry to trace the origins of its people – back beyond written records to the end of the last ice age around 9,000BC when colossal glacial shifts gouged out our landscape and allowed the first immigrants to settle here.

By using some of the most advanced genetic testing to date, scientists are able to track the roots of those people who would come to be known as Welsh, revealing a hidden history of Wales.

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6 October 2014

South Korea Builds DNA Database To Find Relatives in North After Unification

Hong Nam-soon cries each time she watches broadcasts of North and South Korean relatives, inevitably filled with weeping and lingering hugs, reuniting decades after they were separated by war.

"When will I get my turn?" the 84-year-old woman asked recently from her comfortable Seoul high-rise apartment that is decorated with photos of her five sons and a plethora of grandchildren. But almost 65 years after her younger sister disappeared in the early days of the Korean War, Hong has new hope — however dim — that she will find her.

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18 September 2014

Link Found in Genetic Connection Between Modern Europeans and Native Americans

It has long been believed that modern Europeans descended from indigenous hunters and Middle Eastern farmers. But a new study suggests all Europeans today have DNA from a third mystery group: Ancient North Eurasians.

This group appears to have contributed DNA to present-day Europeans, as well as to the people who travelled across the Bering Strait into the Americas more than 15,000 years ago.

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29 August 2014

Ancient DNA Sheds New Light on Arctic's Earliest People

The earliest people in the North American Arctic remained isolated from others in the region for millennia before vanishing around 700 years ago, a new genetic analysis shows. The study, published online Thursday, also reveals that today's Inuit and Native Americans of the Arctic are genetically distinct from the region's first settlers.

Inuit hunters in the Canadian Arctic have long told stories about a mysterious ancient people known as the Tunit, who once inhabited the far north.

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25 August 2014

Is Genetic Genealogy, the Next Facebook of Science?

Last Saturday morning at the first International Conference for Genetic Genealogy in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Genographic Project Director and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells delivered the Keynote to an audience of 300 genetic genealogists.

He spoke about the popularity of the field and how fast consumer genetics has grown since the launch of The Genographic Project in 2005. “In 2013 the one-millionth person tested their DNA,” explained Wells, “just twelve years since the first human genome was sequenced. But this summer the two-millionth person has already tested their DNA.”

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4 July 2014

DNA Testing Eyed for Graves Exhumed from Historic Waco Cemetery

The committee tasked with planning the reburial of some 300 human remains unearthed from the old First Street Cemetery are hoping to enlist DNA technology in a quest to identify them.

The First Street Cemetery Memorial Advisory Committee has asked Baylor University forensic anthropologist Lori Baker to extract bone samples from each set of remains before the reburial, which is expected in 2015.

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17 June 2014

DNA Testing Finally Identifies Soldier Killed in Korean War

A Kentucky family is preparing to bury a Korean War veteran's remains, which were recently identified through DNA testing after decades of uncertainty.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the remains of Sgt. Paul M. Gordon will return to the U.S. on Tuesday and will be interred Friday at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North in Williamstown. Gordon joined the Army in 1949 and was sent to the Korean conflict, where he died in a prisoner of war camp in 1951 at the age of 20.

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13 June 2014

Genes Found in Nature Yield 1918-Like Virus with Pandemic Potential

An international team of researchers has shown that circulating avian influenza viruses contain all the genetic ingredients necessary to underpin the emergence of a virus similar to the deadly 1918 influenza virus.

Searching public databases, the researchers, led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, identified eight genes from influenza viruses isolated from wild ducks that possessed remarkable genetic similarities to the genes that made up the 1918 pandemic flu virus.

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