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Genealogy Blog

26 March 2015

DNA Records Effects of Slave Trade in the Americas

The Internet and modern genetics have been a pair of high-wattage searchlights slicing through one of the darkest periods of modern human history: more than three centuries of conquest, slave trade and population displacement in the Americas.

Historians now can sort through ship manifests once scattered across continents and even search a database for the names of slaves uprooted from Africa and brought across the Atlantic.

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Iceland Has Become The Perfect Genetics Experiment

A millennium ago, a group settled in Iceland and have stayed there ever since, with few people coming and going.

And so their DNA has stayed remarkably homogenous. That’s a major boon for genetics researchers, who today have released the results of sequencing the complete genomes of 2636 Icelanders — the largest such countrywide project ever.

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Richard III DNA Tests Uncover Evidence of Further Royal Scandal

When scientists revealed last year that an adulterous affair had apparently broken the male line in Richard III’s family tree, they vowed to investigate further.

But rather than clear up the mystery, their latest genetic tests have uncovered evidence of another royal sex scandal. This time, the indiscretion could potentially undermine the legitimacy of the entire House of Plantagenet.

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19 March 2015

First Fine-Scale Genetic Map of the British Isles

Many people in the UK feel a strong sense of regional identity, and it now appears that there may be a scientific basis to this feeling, according to a landmark new study into the genetic makeup of the British Isles.

An international team, led by researchers from the University of Oxford, UCL (University College London) and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Australia, used DNA samples collected from more than 2,000 people to create the first fine-scale genetic map of any country in the world.

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Genetic Study Reveals 30% of White British DNA Has German Ancestry

The Romans, Vikings and Normans may have ruled or invaded the British for hundreds of years, but they left barely a trace on our DNA, the first detailed study of the genetics of British people has revealed.

The analysis shows that the Anglo-Saxons were the only conquering force, around 400-500 AD, to substantially alter the country’s genetic makeup, with most white British people now owing almost 30% of their DNA to the ancestors of modern-day Germans.

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17 March 2015

DNA Helps Find Fromelles WW1 Digger Maurice Corigliano After Para Hills Family Feared He Was Lost Forever

Shiralee Reardon can only imagine the courage it must have taken for her great uncle to fight and die in the bloodiest 24 hours in Australian history.

Private Maurice Corigliano died during the Battle of Fromelles in France in July 1916. He had been in the trenches for just two days when he was killed in the ill-fated attack.

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16 March 2015

Unravelling the Lineage of Modern Japanese

Was there a single migration event or gradual mixing of cultures that gave rise to modern Japanese?

According to current theory, about 2,000-3,000 years ago, two populations, the hunter-gatherer Jomon from the Japanese archipelago, and the agricultural Yayoi from continental East Asia, intermingled to give rise to the modern Japanese population.

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10 March 2015

Australians' DNA Helped Identify King's Body After 500 Years

SBS World News can reveal the remains of King Richard III, unearthed 500 years after they were buried, were identified with the help of three Australians' DNA samples.

As Brett Mason reports, those distant descendants will soon meet for the first time when their royal relative is reburied. He was England's missing king for more than five centuries, finally unearthed in 2012 deep below an inner city carpark in the modern day city of Leicester.

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DNA Traces Origins of 17th Century African Slaves

The 17th century bones of three African slaves have been traced to their countries of origin for the first time.

Until now, uncovering the precise origins of the 12 million African slaves sent to the New World between 1500 and 1850 has been challenging, since few historical records exist from the time. Often, the ports from which the slaves were shipped is known, but not the nations from which they came.

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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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