I’ve also submitted a test tube full of cheek epithelial cells to this project, and Lynn Fellman is going to be doing a DNA portrait of me. I had my Y chromosome analyzed just because my paternal ancestry was a bit murky and messy and potentially more surprising, and my mother’s family was many generations of stay-at-home Scandinavian peasantry, so I knew what to expect there. Dad turned out to be not such a great surprise, either. I have the single nucleotide polymorphism M343, which puts me in the R1b haplogroup, which is just the most common Y haplogroup in western Europe. I share a Y chromosome with a great many other fellows from England, France, the Netherlands, etc., which is where the anecdotal family history suggested we were from (family legend has it that the first American Myers in my line was a 17th or 18th century immigrant from the Netherlands). Here’s a map of where the older members of my lineage have been from: Africa (of course!) by way of a long detour through central Asia.
Hello, many-times-great-grandpa! That’s quite the long walk your family has taken. Howdy, great big extended family! We’ll have to get together sometime and keep in touch.
If you’re interested in finding out what clump of humanity you belong to, it’s easy: you can order a $100 kit, swab out a few cheek cells (just like they do on CSI or Law & Order!), mail it back, and a few weeks later, they send you your results. It’s not very detailed — they only analyze a small number of markers — but it’s enough to get a rough picture of where your branch of the family tree lies. And for a bit more, Lynn can turn it into something lovely for your wall.
By the way, Lynn and I will be talking about the science and art of human genetics in a Cafe Scientifique session in Minneapolis in February.