Genealogy Blog

27 January 2012

Following Genetic Footprints out of Africa: First Modern Humans Settled in Arabia

A new study, using genetic analysis to look for clues about human migration over sixty thousand years ago, suggests that the first modern humans settled in Arabia on their way from the Horn of Africa to the rest of the world.

Led by the University of Leeds and the University of Porto in Portugal, the study is recently published in American Journal of Human Genetics and provides intriguing insight into the earliest stages of modern human migration, say the researchers.

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Native Americans Hailed From Siberian Highlands, DNA Reveals

For nearly a century now, most scholars have agreed that the ancestors of Native Americans likely hailed from Siberia, trekking across the Bering Strait to Alaska via a long-gone land bridge.

But certain aspects of the historic migration—including the settlers’ specific region of origin, when exactly they left it and what drove them to seek new lands—remain matters of debate to this day. A new DNA-based study published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics offers new insight into these questions.

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24 January 2012

With DNA Testing, Suddenly They Are Family

Growing up, Khrys Vaughan always believed that she had inherited her looks and mannerisms from her father, and that her appreciation for tradition and old-fashioned gentility stemmed from her parents’ Southern roots. But those facets of her self-image crumbled when she was told, at age 42, that she had been adopted.

She began searching for her origins, only to find out that her adoption records had been sealed, a common practice in the 1960s. Then Mrs. Vaughan stumbled across an ad from a DNA testing company offering to help people who had been adopted find clues to their ancestry and connections to blood relatives.

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12 January 2012

DNA Evidence Links Murder Case With Mayflower-Era Family

Forgive Seattle-area sheriff’s deputies if they spend a little time in the history books these days. Or start asking a lot of questions about a 17th-century Massachusetts family.

As deputies work to solve a 20-year-old Federal Way, Wash., murder, DNA has linked the suspect all the way back to the family of Robert Fuller, who was related to two people who came to the U.S. on the Mayflower. Unfortunately for law enforcement officials, Fuller first settled in Salem, Mass., in 1630.

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11 January 2012

South American and Mayan DNA Discovered in Southern Appalachians

Southeastern Indians were irate after several non-Native Americans mocked their traditions while commenting on an archaeological discovery of Maya place names and apparent Itza Maya ruins in the Georgia Mountains.

The Creek Indians of Georgia went on the warpath after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about the discovery only interviewed four non-Native Americans, who had no professional backgrounds in Mesoamerican archaeology and architecture.

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19 December 2011

Chinese Scientists Finish Sequencing Genghis Khan Descendant's Genome

Scientists said on Sunday that they have finished sequencing the genome of a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. Zhou Huanmin, project leader and head of the biological research lab at the Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, said Sunday that this was the first individual genome sequencing of a Mongolian.

The blood donator was a male only identified as one of Genghis Khan's 34th-generation offspring from the Sunit Tribe, which is based in the Xilingol league (prefecture) in Inner Mongolia.

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7 December 2011

Massive Population Drop Found for Native Americans, DNA Shows

The number of Native Americans quickly shrank by roughly half following European contact about 500 years ago, according to a new genetic study. The finding supports historical accounts that Europeans triggered a wave of disease, warfare, and enslavement in the New World that had devastating effects for indigenous populations across the Americas.

Using samples of ancient and modern mitochondrial DNA—which is passed down only from mothers to daughters—the researchers calculated a demographic history for American Indians.

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23 November 2011

International Teachers Go Genographic

The story of humanity’s journey can be found within each of us—encoded in our DNA. In 2005, National Geographic and IBM, with support from the Waitt Family Foundation, launched the Genographic Project, which aims to provide the first true ‘snapshot’ picture of how each of us moved out of Africa and around the globe 60,000 years ago.

With over a quarter of a million people already taking part, the project is gathering and analyzing the world’s largest collection of anthropological DNA samples in the hope it will capture this information before modern-day influences erase it forever.

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4 November 2011

Quebec’s Earliest Settlers Left Strongest Genetic Imprint on Province

The first settlers to colonize the wilderness of northeastern Quebec had more offspring and were more successful in passing on their genes than those who followed, according to a genealogical research published Thursday in the journal Science.

The study, conducted by Canadian and Swiss researchers, looked at the genealogy of more than 1.2 million Canadians in the recently colonized Quebec regions of Charlevoix and Saguenay-Lac St. Jean.

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20 October 2011

DNA Solves Mystery of Unknown Scots Soldier

He lay in a single shallow grave on the fringes of a battlefield in northern France for 90 years, his two regimental collar badges among the little remains of the unknown Scots soldier.

No-one had talked much about former Coatbridge man Alexander Johnston over time, the name only rarely coming up in conversation when old photo books were opened up and shared by his family.

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18 October 2011

Scientists to Unlock the Secrets of Long Life by Unravelling DNA of World's Oldest Woman

Scientists are studying the DNA of a woman who was the world's oldest person until her death at the age of 115, in the belief it could contain the secrets to long life. Dutch woman Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper was born in 1890 and became the word's oldest person in May 2004 before her death in August the following year.

What made her even more remarkable was the fact she remained mentally sharp right up until her death. She showed no signs of Alzheimer's disease which most experts assume would be inevitable for someone of her years.

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14 October 2011

Black Death DNA Unravelled

Scientists used the degraded strands to reconstruct the entire genetic code of the deadly bacterium. It is the first time experts have succeeded in drafting the genome of an ancient pathogen, or disease-causing agent.

The researchers found that a specific strain of the plague bug Yersinia pestis caused the pandemic that killed 100 million Europeans - between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of the total population - in just five years between 1347 and 1351.

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29 September 2011

New Genetic Evidence Links Spanish Americans of Southwest to Jews

A group of researchers in the United States and Ecuador analyzed DNA from two communities who trace back to Spanish colonial times: one in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, which includes Conjehos County, and one in the Loja Province of southern Ecuador.

The study found “observable Sephardic ancestry” in both communities and calculated Jewish ancestry among the Lojanos at about 5 to 10 percent and among the Spanish Americans, also called Hispanos, at about 1 to 5 percent.

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12 September 2011

Ned Kelly's Remains Identified After 130 Years

It was one of the longest-enduring and most baffling mysteries to face Australian historians and scientists: what ever happened to the body of famed bush ranger and folk hero Ned Kelly?

But 130 years after Kelly was hanged for the murder of three policemen in Old Melbourne Gaol, the nation has finally got an answer. Researchers from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine have announced that, after an exhaustive 20-month search that included testing of more than 30 skeletons and a trip to Argentina, Kelly's remains have been positively identified.

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1 September 2011

Remains of Australian Outlaw Ned Kelly Identified

The headless remains of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly have been identified, 130 years after he was hanged for murder, officials have said. His body was dumped into a mass grave, later transferred to another mass grave and again exhumed in 2009.

Although his skull is still missing the body was identified by comparing a DNA sample with that of a relative. Ned Kelly was seen by many as a cold-blooded killer and others as a folk hero of Irish-Australian resistance.

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