Category: Ancestry

Stories From 23andMe: James Larry Vick and the “Black Dutch” of Newman’s Ridge

It started innocently enough with a simple question from his daughter. “Where did our family come from?” (Image from Larry Vick's blog) For 20 years Larry Vick has been trying to answer that question. His first source was a chart drawn up by an uncle, but since then Vick has turned to old Census files, ...

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Genes, Languages and Artifacts Yield Insights Into African Prehistory

The author during her time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. As a Peace Corps volunteer teaching in Kenya 25 years ago, I was fascinated by the cultural, linguistic, and physical differences among the people of eastern Africa. One of our Kenyan trainers took us to a "boma" where his tall, ...

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2009 Spittoon Highlights – Part 2

In our last post we highlighted a few of the coolest (in our opinion!) health-related developments of 2009.  But human genetics isn't all about disease.  Here are a few more favorites: The Romanovs 2009 saw the identification of the remains of the missing members of this Russian royal family, as well as ...

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Life on the Fringe: Shrews and Voles Reveal Clues to British Prehistory

Through the millennia wave after wave of migrants - often in the form of invading armies – have descended upon the British Isles. The first people to arrive after the Ice Age were hunter-gatherers who followed their prey north from southern Europe about 12,000 years ago. The Celts came from central Europe ...

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What Makes Us Human? Study Finds Hints By Comparing Chimp and Human DNA

We may be another step closer to discovering what makes us human. A new study published online this week in Genome Research has pinpointed three genes in humans that may genetically differentiate us from chimps and other primates. Genetically we are very similar to chimps, so most of the differences ...

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New Study on Genetics of Ethnic Groups Reveals We May Not Be So Different After All

There are many examples around the world of two distinct ethnic groups living side by side. Sometimes these groups co-exist peacefully. Other times they do not. Often two groups' differences - along with circumstantial factors - lead to tension between them and sometimes violence. The Hutus and Tutsis ...

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Ancient DNA Analysis Reveals Family Ties in Ruins of Pompeii

On August 20, 79 AD, a series of small tremors and earthquakes began to shake the two ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.  Lying in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius — about 150 miles south of the Roman capital — the two cities were often hit by tremors and earthquakes, so most residents were ...

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New Study Reveals Complex Origins of the Malagasy

Only 250 miles separates the island of Madagascar from the southeast coast of Africa.  The short distance between the two land masses traditionally led the outside world to assume that the native inhabitants of Madagascar - known as the Malagasy - originally came from the west, probably from the present day ...

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The Giggling Chimp: Researchers Draw Evolutionary Link Between Human and Ape Laughter

Great apes really do giggle when tickled, new research says - just like you and me. Researchers from the University of Hannover in Germany recorded the tickle-induced vocalizations from three human infants and 21 infant and juvenile orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos and analyzed this acoustic ...

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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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