Category: Ancestry

The End of a Dynasty: How Inbreeding Doomed the House of Habsburg

The Royal House of Habsburg, one of the most powerful dynasties of Medieval and Renaissance Europe, reigned over much of Europe for centuries. Beginning in the early 12th century they quickly expanded their realm through a series of strategically executed marriages, from the mountains of Switzerland to a ...

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23andMe Labs Kicks Off With Haplogroup Tree Mutation Mapper

The 23andMe Personal Genome Service™ offers information about customers' maternal and paternal ancestry by examining their mitochondrial DNA (which we all inherit from our mothers) and the Y chromosome (which is passed by fathers to their sons). Over our species' history new genetic variations have arisen ...

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One if by Land, Two if by Sea: New Genetics Study Indicates Multiple Paleo-Indian Migration Routes

It seems like new discoveries about the peopling of the Americas are a dime a dozen these days.  Without a doubt, the journey those first Americans took from the frozen wastelands of Asia down the Pacific coast into the Americas has been an active research subject for many decades.  Archaeologists, linguists, ...

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Across the Pillars of Hercules: Recent Study Confirms Prehistoric Connection between Iberia and North Africa

Less than eight nautical miles wide, the Strait of Gibraltar is an easily surmountable barrier between northwest Africa and Spain. Military invaders such as Hannibal of Carthage and the caliphs of the Islamic Empire have had no trouble traversing this sliver of sea in the process of invading Europe. But in ...

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What’s in a Name: Surnames and the Y-Chromosome

My surname — Holden — has gone through many incarnations since it originated in England nearly 700 years ago.  Letters were added, then dropped.  Some branches of my family added an extra "u" in the middle, while others changed the pronunciation entirely.  Then, when my ancestors arrived in America over 200 ...

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Hidden in Plain Sight: New Genetic Discoveries Shed Light on the Spread of Farming in Eastern Europe

Before genetics came into the picture, researchers interested in the introduction of agriculture to Europe had only the archaeological record to go on — a limited collection of primarily stone and bone artifacts that left much room for interpretation. But as researchers began applying population genetics to ...

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X Marks the Spot: New Study Reveals Value of X-Chromosome in Tracing Prehistoric Human Migrations

In the world of genetic anthropology, mitochondrial DNA and the Y-chromosome are the major players.  They are regions of our genome scientists use most frequently when tracing both ancient and historical human migrations, and are an important tool for genealogists using DNA to piece together their family ...

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Where Today Meets Yesterday: A New Approach to Studying the Genetic History of Southeast Asia

Archaeologists rarely agree on anything.  So it's no surprise that for years two groups of scholars have drawn completely opposite conclusions about the relationship between the ancient people of Thailand and China. Some experts argue that, thousands of years ago, people from Thailand migrated into East ...

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An Unexpected Result: Genetics Sheds Light on the Spanish Inquisition

With the return of Christian rule to Spain in 1492 after nearly 800 years of Muslim rule, hundreds of thousands of people — both Muslim and Jewish — were faced with the choice of exile, conversion or occasionally even death. Historical accounts estimate that nearly 400,000 Jews and Muslims were expelled from ...

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A Family that Lived Together and Died Together

About 4,600 years ago, in northern Germany, a small village buried 13 of its residents.  The deceased ranged in age from less than a year to nearly 60 years old and were buried in pairs or small groups. And virtually all of them had suffered violent, probably painful deaths.  Because the majority of the ...

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