Tracking the Sexes by Their Genes

By: Olivia Hunt

DNA contains the genetic instructions which make people the way they are. These genetic instructions are written in a four letter chemical alphabet: A (adenine), T (thymine), C (cytosine) and G (guanine). Researchers can just find a use for about 3% of the DNA in our cells.

Paternal and maternal lineages. The two well-known types of genetic genealogy tests are the Y-DNA - paternal line - and mtDNA - maternal line - genealogical DNA tests.

These tests compare the DNA of a person to that of another to define how many generations ago the two individuals shared their most recent common ancestor. These tests permit two people to define with all the certainty that they are related within a certain time frame or the vice versa.

Biogeographical and ethnic origins. Additional DNA tests exist for defining biogeographical and ethnic origin.

Human migration. Genealogical DNA testing methods are used for a longer time to trace human migratory models and define, for instance, when and how the first human beings came to the North America.

One significant attempt that is presently happening is the genographic project. It aims at mapping historical human migration models by analyzing DNA patterns from more than 100,000 people all over five continents.

Genetic genealogy gives genealogists a model to check the historical record with data from genetic information. A positive test match with another individual may discover living relatives, validate existing research, give locations for further genealogical research, confirm or deny suspected connections between families, help define ancestral homeland, prove or disprove theories regarding ancestry. The important reasons of that people do not want to be DNA tested is the price of these tests and problems with private issues. Nevertheless, the price becomes more than just affordable. In addition, confidentiality of one's genetic markers can be restricted to families or groups. Such data results, where there are the data of people’s analyses, are often anonymous and are identified by a quantity which may be known to the person itself.

More than that, Y-DNA and mtDNA testing just trace one lineage, (in other words, one's father's father's father's etc. lineage or one's mother's mother's mother's etc. lineage). Several generations back, a person has 1024 ancestors and a Y-DNA or mtDNA test. It studies 10 of those 1024 ancestors. To my mind almost all human societies fit the cultural pattern that coincides with the genetic data. The article reflects the holistic, integrating approach of anthropology nature and respects a long tradition in anthropology and population studies.

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