I’m related to Genghis Khan

Ever wonder where you’ve come from? Wanted to retrace the steps to see where you might end up? Nowadays looking up your ancestors isn’t a case of dusting off old records down at the local library. Genetic geneaology is putting the science back into finding your famous, and not so famous, relatives.

Research has spoken and says about 0.5% of the world’s male population is likely to be related to Genghis Khan. No joke and no fingers crossed. So if you’re pretty handy with a bow and arrow you’ll know exactly why. Anyway, they discovered this by looking at the Y chromosome (the sex-determining chromosome) of men living in the Mongol empire 800 plus years ago. Basically it works like this: the Y chromosome gets passed down from father to son from generation to generation and remains pretty much unchanged.

The outcome of the research? A huge number of men shared the same Y chromosome, which could date back thousands of years. And with the likelihood that Gengis Khan and his close relatives populated the empire, they put 2 and 2 together. Told you it wasn’t a joke.http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/0214_030214_genghis.html

When it comes to tracing back the other half of the species, things have to be done a little differently. Why? Because women don’t have a Y chromosome, that’s why. Now before you go getting all annoyed and start feeling left out, a female family tree can be traced through mitochondrial DNA. Mito what? Put simply, DNA is the building blocks of life. Mitochondrial DNA doesn’t change much from generation to generation and is passed from a mother to her children, making it possible to trace back a female family line.

And tests on Marie Antoinette’s DNA have revealed a large portion of Europeans are related to her or have a common ancestor with her. Not a bad match at all.

Check your own DNA and see what happens. www.isogg.org/famousdna.htm. Just don’t be disappointed if it leads to either Posh or Becks.

More on genetic genealogy can be found here:

Be involved in looking at our recent or very distant past as:

  • genealogist tracing family histories by looking through old public records, and private information held by the families
  • An archivist storing information that researchers can use. These could be either paper copies of public records, or they could be computer files with people’s family trees, all available to help other people make family connections
  • An archaeologist looking for archaeological remains, and interpreting them in relation to human migration
  • geneticist looking at genes and what they might tell us about our past. Finding out how much different genes can mutate over a long time and finding similarities between different populations
  • medical laboratory assistant working in a private company that tests people’s genetic makeup
  • statistician looking at similarities in genetic material in people around the world to analyse the most likely movement of humans as they spread around the world
  • historian matching up historical records with material collected from historical figures for DNA testing, to confirm that objects like hair are genuine
  • An anthropologist studying how humans came to be the way we are and how we lived as we moved around the world