Category: Ancestry

Roots Television: The Internet TV Channel for Genealogists

People naturally yearn to know where they came from. Genealogists scratch that itch by poring over historical documents such as vital records, tax rolls, census lists and diaries to reconstruct their family history. In recent years, genealogists have also begun using genetic information as another way of ...

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Who Built the Terracotta Army? The Genetic Origins of the Qin Dynasty Mausoleum Workers

One of the most infamous emperors of Chinese antiquity was the very first:  Qin Shi Huang.  Also known as Ying Zheng, he ruled the Chinese state of Qin from 247-210 BC.  When he came to power, various Chinese kingdoms were engaged in a struggle against each other for superiority; by the time he died in 210 BC ...

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Polygamous Footprints in Our Genes

The practice of monogamy – the most popular mating practice on the planet today – is nothing new. In fact, anthropologists have found evidence of monogamous relationships in Homo erectus, a human ancestor that lived nearly 2 million years ago. But the alternative to monogamy – polygamy – though not nearly ...

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What it Means to be Human

What is it about humans that distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom?  Is it our upright walking?  Our language?  Our love of Reality TV?  Even though we are said to be 99% genetically identical to our closest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee, we clearly differ vastly from them physically ...

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More than Just a Parable: The Genetic History of the Samaritans

Upon hearing the name "Samaritans," many people are immediately reminded of the famous passage from the Gospel of Luke (10: 25-37), the so called ‘Good Samaritan’ parable. Jesus tells of a Levite (a Jew) who is beaten and left on the side of the road. None who pass by the injured man stop to help, save a ...

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Recommended Reading: Mapping Human History

For more than a century anthropologists have studied the multitude of cultures and ethnicities that exist across the globe, delving deep into the various ways that populations develop their own unique identities. With the development of genetic anthropology over the last 15 years, scientists have begun to ...

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A Different Kind of Gene Mapping: Comparing Genetic and Geographic Structure in Europe: The Return!

By Chris Gignoux and Brenna Henn Early human history was characterized by many rapid, long-distance migrations. But despite our beginnings as travelers, genetic evidence published online last Sunday in Nature indicates that after expanding to all corners of the earth people (at least those in Europe) ...

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Genes and Languages: Not So Strange Bedfellows?

Throughout the history of our species there has been one constant:  movement.  Since the origin of Homo sapiens nearly 200,000 years ago in East Africa, humans have journeyed around the globe, ultimately inhabiting every continent save Antarctica.Scientists have traditionally used archaeology, and more ...

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Recommended Reading: “The Seven Daughters of Eve”

If anybody could turn the history of genetic anthropology into a page-turner, it would be Bryan Sykes. Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, has spent the better of part the last 25 years decoding the mystery of our species’ genetic ancestry through mitochondrial DNA analysis. He ...

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A Different Kind of Gene Mapping: Comparing Genetic and Geographic Structure in Europe

By Chris Gignoux and Mike Macpherson It should be no surprise that in general, we are more genetically similar to our neighbors than to people living far away. The reason is fairly simple — until recently in human history it was fairly rare for people from widely separated geographic regions to even meet, ...

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