Monday, May 05, 2008

The Genographic Project

Line up ladies!, originally uploaded by Vanita.

I accidentally woke up an hour early today so I might as well use the time (which has been precious lately) to write a post. I was at Louie's Basque Corner this weekend talking to an old basque guy who said that his son sent his DNA to the National Geographic and helped him trace his bloodline back 60,000 years! The other old basque guy we were talking to said, "Well what did you find out?" And the first guy said, "He found out we came from a couple of guys coming out of Africa!"

First, I thought it was awesome that he was willing to believe that his family came from Africa (the guy he was talking to was more skeptical). And second I thought it was amazing that there was a program like that. I had an idea what he might be talking about since i have Journey of Man at home on DVD. (here it is on Netflix) Journey of Man is a really amazing movie. I originally got it because my parents saw it and bought it for me thinking that I needed to see it and would love it. It is about how we are all related and the story of how geneticists are using markers in our blood to actually follow the migration of people over thousands of years. The host who is also one of the lead scientists working on the project is a little heavy handed but it is still amazing work. He goes around the world and finds people that have the genetic markers that help connect the story. There is something unexpectedly inspiring in the movie, not in the "we are all connected" way, but kinda. I highly recommend seeing it and finding out what I'm talking about ;)

Anyway, even after many Pecon punches and a full night of drinking, dancing, hiccups, and more fun than I should be allowed to pack into a night, the next morning I remembered what the guy said about the DNA test and found The Genographic Project. Sure enough, the project director is the same guy from Journey of Man and they are using DNA to look for markers. Just imagine, being able to trace where you came from tens of thousands of years back! Genealogy is a VERY time consuming process with dead ends and difficulties at every turn. Now as stated on the site,

this is not a genealogy study. You will not learn about your great-grandparents or other recent relatives, and your DNA trail will not necessarily lead to your present-day location. Rather, your results will reveal the anthropological story of your direct maternal or paternal ancestors—where they lived and how they migrated around the world many thousands of years ago.

Although it is much more impersonal than a genealogy with family names and the stories that you find in doing that research, this offers such a deeper look than any genealogy project could ever hope to.

But who knows. As the project grows and accrues more and more data and relationships there are numerous ways that you could use the data, ways we haven't thought of yet. Maybe more information could be associated with different lines or more specific lines. They might put the Mormon's to shame! (the leaders in genealogical data).

Anyway, stop reading this and go check out The Genographic Project website. It looks amazing.

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