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Too Big to Feel

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We don't often write editorials in this space. Normally, you will see nothing but news in the DNA Consultants Blog. Some sparse marketing messages may appear whenever we have a new product or study. But the FDA's "stop and desist" letter last Friday to personal genomics giant 23&me has sent shock waves through the industry. Although we are not in the business of providing medical information to customers, only ancestral background analyses, we feel compelled to weigh in on the FDA's warning, which we think is overdue.

First, it is important to note that the FDA took action against 23&me because the company has been selling an unapproved diagnostic device and medical service. The FDA demanded 23&me "immediately discontinue marketing the Personal Genome Service" after years of protracted and unsuccessful requests for proof of safety and efficacy to back up the company's marketing claims.

A check of 23&me's website on November 26 showed little change in the promises it makes to consumers. Splashed across the welcome page in large letters was "Get to know you." The site boasted having "Reports on 240+ health conditions." In language that sure sounds medical to us, it speaks of carrier status, health risks and drug response. 

An appeal to parents suggests, "Find out if your children are at risk for inherited conditions, so you can plan for the health of your family." Under "drug response," the company advises that you can take "information on how you might respond to certain medications" from your $99 DNA test to your next doctor's visit.

The FDA found "some of the uses for which Personal Genomic Service is intended are particularly concerning." A false positive result for the BRCA gene, for instance, could cause a patient to remove breasts or ovaries to avoid getting cancer. A false negative could lead patients into an unfounded sense of security and make them ignore that an actual risk exists. An inaccurate result for warfarin drug response could lead a patient to self-manage their dosage or skip it altogether, leading to "illness, injury, or death."

Some pretty dire concerns.

DNA Consultants simply does not do DNA testing for medical information. If a customer calls and asks for such a service we explain that is something they should discuss with their healthcare provider. Neither our marketing nor fulfillment of tests contains any medical language.

We specialize in ancestry analysis exclusively and believe we do that better than anybody else.

Of course, the field of genetic screening has made enormous progress over the past ten years. We monitor many of those advances in our blog. But we do not believe the field is by any means "there" yet, certainly not ready to be packaged and hawked to consumers. We doubt it ever will be. Or at least we hope not.

Despite popular anthems of genetic determinism, your health is not all in your genes. But your ancestry certainly is. Find out what your ancestry is and you will be able to form an idea of what your ancestral medical history might look like, going beyond the two generations of family medical history covered by standard questionnaires at the doctor's office. But that part is entirely up to you and your healthcare providers.

No company is too big to fail. Even the largest are subject to oversight by the government as well as consumer pressure and the natural forces of the market. Nor is any company too big to feel. We hope 23&me will respond both to the FDA and the public with understanding and responsibility, not indifference and arrogance.

Related Posts

How Secure Is Your DNA

The Sins of Science

How Good is Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Screening:  Not Very, According to Study

Regulation Unlikely in Europe

Should the DNA Marketspace Be Regulated by the Government?






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Native Americans Have Deep Ancestry in Europe: Yes, It's Official

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shocking, Long Overdue Revision to American Indian Genetics

By Donald N. Yates

The ecstatic waters . . .

Through their ancestral patterns dance.

—William Butler Yeats, "News for the Delphic Oracle"

We've been saying it all along but it looks as though geneticists may be forced by new findings in ancient DNA to admit that early Siberian people and present-day Native Americans both have strong roots in Europe, only secondarily in Asia. The nuclear genetic bomb was dropped by Danish geneticist Eske Willerslev at a conference on "First Americans Archeology," held October 16-19, 2013, at Santa Fe, N.M. The city that gave birth to the original atom bomb hosted a glittering roster of speakers in a venue better known for its turquoise jewelry, fry bread and avante garde art, including big draws Achilli, Adovasio, Dillehay, Gonzalez and Schurr.

The paradigm-shifting conference program will be commemorated with a book Paleoamerican Odyssey ($56) to be published by Texas A&M Press later this year.

Leaked reports in the news media focused on Willerslev's paper, "Genetics as a Means for Understanding Early Peopling of the Americas," which concerned the genetic sequencing of two ancient Siberians' bones discovered in the 1920s and now in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Analysis of a bone in one of the arms of a boy found near the village of Mal'ta close to Lake Baikal yielded the oldest complete genome of a modern human sequenced to date.

Of the 24,000 year-old skeleton that was Exhibit A, Willerslev was quoted in The Siberian Times, as saying, "His DNA shows close ties to those of today's Native Americans. Yet he apparently descended not from East Asians, but from people who had lived in Europe or western Asia." He added, "The finding suggests that about a third of the ancestry of today's Native Americans can be traced to 'western Eurasia.'"

The 4-year-old boy, who died 24,000 years ago in a homeland previously assumed to account for all the Indians who crossed a theoretical Bering land-bridge and founded the First Americans, had a male Y-chromosomal haplogroup of R1b, the most common lineage in modern Europe, and a female mitochondrial lineage of U, the dominant prototype in pre-historic Europe. As it happens, I am the same combination, R1b for male and U for female, as are innumerable others in our in-house study on Cherokee DNA, published, lo, some five years ago.

Whereas previous "peopling of the Americas" stuff has clung to and recycled haplogroup studies (sex-lines), the new shock research relies on autosomal DNA, total genomic contributions from all ancestral lines, not just male-only, not just female-only descent. The title of a blog from Eurogenes rightly emphasizes this:  "Surprising aDNA [autosomal] results from Paleolithic Siberia (including Y DNA R)."  

When we introduced the 18-Marker Ethnic Panel as an enhancement for our main autosomal product, DNA Fingerprint Plus, lo, again, these five years now and counting, we presented a map of prehistoric human migrations showing without any equivocation that "Native Americans," even as Cavalli-Sforza demonstrated two decades ago, were closer in genetic distance to Europeans than Asians. In fact, we claimed, on the basis of autosomal DNA, that having Native American I or Native American II was a result discrete and separate from East Asian, since Native Americans obtained frequencies of its occurrence as high as 80% and Asians were on the polar opposite of the scale, at the bottom for carrying it. Other methods frequently confused Native American and East Asian to the point of invalidity, particularly those products claiming to arrive at racial or ethnic percentages.

The moral is that autosomal DNA trumps Y chromosome and mitochondrial evidence, and only ancient autosomal DNA can truly explain modern DNA. Even one of the most antipathetic students of American Indian DNA, Theodore G. Schurr, seems to rethinking the rigid definitions that have built careers and won tenure for geneticists and anthropologists for decades. For the fanatics who have been toeing the party line on haplogroup Q, as set down by Schurr's company, Family Tree DNA, and its followers, we note the following statement of recantation or at least qualification, taken from the Santa Fe program:

"Tracing Human Movements across Siberia and into the Americas: New

Insights from Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Data."

In this paper, I present genetic data from native Siberian and indigenous

populations of North America that help to address questions

about the process and timing of the peopling of the Americas. These

new genetic data indicate that Eskimoan- and Athapaskan-speaking

populations are genetically distinct from one another, as well as each

to Amerindian groups, and that the formation of these circumarctic

populations was the result of two population expansions that occurred

after the initial expansion of settlement of the Americas. Our high-resolution

analysis of Y chromosome haplogroup Q has also reshaped the

organization of this lineage, making connections between New World

and Old World populations more apparent and demonstrating that

southern Altaians and Native Americans share a recent common ancestor.

The data also make clear that Y-chromosomal diversity among the

first Native Americans was greater than previously recognized. Overall,

these results greatly enhance our understanding of the peopling of

Siberia and the Americas from both mtDNA and Y-chromosome

perspectives.

"Genetic genealogy" has become a fashionable buzzword, but to my knowledge few research studies or blogs and hardly any commercial tests authentically combine the two concepts. According to genealogy, I myself am about one-quarter Choctaw-Cherokee and three-quarters European. But genetics says my mitochondrial line (U2e) is Eurasian, even though I have traced it to a Cherokee woman who married the Indian trader Enoch Jordan about 1790 in north Georgia.  Estimates from other "genetic genealogy" companies for my Native American ancestry, and I've taken them all, range from 0% (23&me) to 8% (Family Tree DNA, AncestryByDNA). 

DNA Consultants, the company I founded in 2003, does not give percentages of ancestry by policy, but half my top matches in our autosomal analysis are Native American, and North Asian/Siberian is No. 1 in my megapopulation result, followed by Central Asian and Native American (and only distantly by Northern European). On an autosomal approach, if not haplogroup basis, my genes are Native American, which is how I self-identify. If I were to be pulled over for being a brown person in the state of Arizona, where I currently reside, and Sheriff Joe ran my DNA profile numbers through the system he would find that I am 15 times more likely to be North Asian than Northern European, and twice as likely to be American Indian than East Asian, European American or Iberian American (Hispanic).

Read the whole analysis of my personal genetics, with actual reports from various companies, in the Cherokee Results pages on the DNA Consultants website. You may also find an extended study showing what autosomal DNA can do at:

Reconstructing Your Ancestry and Parentage (blog post, March 14, 2012)

If and when geneticists get serious about identifying the European sources of the American Indian gene pool, and hopefully they will round up not just one suspect (Denmark?), I would like for those who get paid and promoted to study us to please consider the following points:

—First New Cherokee Data Published in More Than Ten Years (announcement, August 1, 2012) - in-house study described numerous instances of U, findings published in Donald Yates' Old World Roots of the Cherokee.

—Stephen C. Jett, who taught geography at The Ohio State University 1963-1964 and then at the University of California, Davis, serving thrice as Geography chair and becoming emeritus in 2000, current editor of Pre-Columbiana, has frequently pointed out that just because Native American haplogroups match Siberian haplogroups doesn't mean the population of either Native America or Siberia was the same in remote history as today. He considered this a big fallacy of Big Science.

—Constantine Rafinesque, whose History of the American Indians was the first and most comprehensive treatment of the subject, believed all the early settlers of the Americas came "through the Atlantic," and only beginning about 1000 BCE did the Iztacans and Oguzians (Central Asian Turkic peoples) arrive. See our blog:  American Indian and Turkic People Share Deep Ancestry (June 6, 2012).

—Canadian environmentalist Farley Mowat, the author of thirty-seven books, has constantly challenged the conventional knowledge that Vikings were the first Europeans to reach North America. In The Farfarers he describes the Alban people of Old Europe as visitors and colonists from the time when walrus hunters discovered the sea routes to the West before the Bronze Age. America's original name of the White (or Beautiful) Land is mentioned by Rafinesque and in Hindu, Greek, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Arabic, Algonquian Indian, Irish, Norse and Chinese accounts.  See "An Interview with Farley Mowat" on YouTube.

—Cyclone Covey of Wake Forest University, among other historians, has noted that Clovis Culture appears fully formed without any antecedents in America, with the most perfect examples of Clovis points traced in a cline of occurence in archeological sites to the Atlantic Coast.

—The earliest Americans clearly practiced the same Mother Goddess religion elaborately documented in the east Mediterranean and Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas. Their ideas of matriarchy or gylany (in Riana Eisler's coinage) did not come from Asia. See Archeologist of the Goddess (webpage) and "Syncretism, Not Animism" (PPT), a presentation given at the Sandy, Utah conference, March 29, 2011.

—When customers of DNA Consultants with various degrees of Native American admixture have their European population matches analyzed, a frequent top result is Finland or Finno-Ugric or Uralic. This "false match" could be explained by shared ancestry between the present-day Finns (where U is the modal haplogroup) and ancestors of Native Americans coming from Europe. Consider taking the EURO DNA test ($99).

—John L. Sorenson and Carl L. Johannessen in World Trade and Biological Exchanges before 1492 (2009) document several plants that originated in the Eastern Hemisphere (not Asia) and traveled early by human hand to the Americas. For instance, Cannabis sativa (marijuana) moved from Western Asia or Europe to Peru by 100 CE, and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) was brought to Mexico from across the Atlantic Ocean by 1500 BCE. Both grow in profusion in Europe and temperate parts of Central Asia. Goosefoot (an important Ohio Valley Moundbuilder staple), cotton, coconuts, bananas, turmeric and North American myrtle likely took the same route. In the opposite direction, Mexican agave spread to the Mediterranean world by 300 BCE.

Archeologists described the recent news from Santa Fe as jaw-dropping. We expect that when the definitive report on the Siberian boy's 24,000 year-old genome appears in the journal Nature, where it is at press, their hair may fall out. At any rate, the European origins of Indians is going to be a game changer not only in genetics, but anthropology, archeology, government and, perhaps most significantly, in the self-awareness of millions of Americans who count Native Americans among their ancestors.

 
























Our standard world migration map had the story right years ago.


Comments

Don Danielson commented on 30-Oct-2013 05:36 PM

I can add no data, only my applause. There are, truly, more similarities among people than differences.

James Stritzel commented on 11-Nov-2013 03:03 PM

CONGRATULATIONS!! For vindication of what you and DNA Consultants have been in the forefront of for years. Still will be fierce resistance but the light of your leadership is starting to shine and grow in the ‘Official Establishment’.

I remember and still have a book from the early 1990’s “Giving Voice to Bear” by David Rockwell. In it he wrote of the similarity of how Bear is depicted/revered/hunted around the sub-Arctic. Briefly wrote about a circumpolar subarctic culture. That has stuck with me 20+ years.

Here with Eske Willerley’s “….genetic bombshell….” is validation of what must have been pre-Columbian peopling of Americas other than the orthodox version.

Thanks so much for your dedication, determination and achievements in the DNA Field.

Jim Stritzel

Anonymous commented on 14-Nov-2013 09:18 PM

I have a lot of Siberian DNA as well as a lot of Greek and Iranian DNA, but come from Black Sea area/Georgia. But look European. MtDNA is H1b. Mom's dad's Y chromo is R1b. We were supposed to have come from the Caucasus in ancestral times. Lots of redheads in the family. Curious.

Bill Hucks commented on 20-Nov-2013 05:15 PM

This is one of many articles I've read on the Siberian boy. You mention that his Ydna is R1b, however it is not mentioned in any other articles. I'm very curious to know if R1b has indeed, been confirmed. --That was reported in the full version of the scientific paper.


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Autosomal Testing Revalidated

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Autosomal Ancestry Tests: More Confirmation of Their Stability

By Teresa Panther-Yates

How fast does the molecular clock tick? Americans, especially, like most everything fast. We don’t think too much about the word slow. But two scientists have changed our minds about that. As often happens in science, two research teams independently reached the same groundbreaking results. The breakthrough in the present case concerns the mutation rate of DNA and has profound implications for human evolution as well as for autosomal DNA ancestry analysis.

What is the DNA mutation rate? This is the rate at which a genetic marker mutates or changes over time. James X Sun et al in the recent article in Nature Genetics, “A Direct Characterization of Human Mutation Based on Microsatellites,” and A. Kong et al in the recent article, “Rate of de novo Mutations and the Importance of Father’s Age to Disease Risk,” in Nature both made an important, recent discovery. The speed of mutation in DNA is slower and more stable than previously thought. They discovered this how? By the magic of math.

How can math help us discover our ancestry? DNA is stable. Because it is so stable, we can calculate our way all the way back to when we swung in the trees and threw guavas at gorillas. (Even early man was in the trees longer than previously thought according to Charles Choi in his recent article in Science, “Early Human ‘Lucy’ Swung from the Trees.”) And these calculations lead us to the stories of our ancestors.

What does this mean concerning autosomal DNA ancestry tests? They have even more scientific validity. Second-generation DNA ancestry testing is based on these very genetic markers, and that is confirmation that the alleles on your DNA that are examined using a statistical basis have been relatively unchanged for the past 20,000 years. That’s about twice the length of what we call world history, hence a meaningful enough time frame for valid inferences about population patterns and ancestry of individuals.

These common and not-so-common markers that everyone has are behind the method making it possible for anyone to take an autosomal ancestry test. Autosomal or non-sex-linked markers change at a much slower rate than the Y chromosome, for instance, which seems to be highly changeable, depending on the father’s age (Kong 201). The Y chromosome is a marker only males have. It is used for other types of tests: male, haplotype, sex-linked DNA tests. Only males can take these tests, and it only provides information about that one male line.

Who knows what our DNA has yet to tell us? Or what DNA tests there will be in the future. This is an exciting new field. But what you can know now with a true and thorough autosomal DNA test is more than most realize is possible. The DNA Fingerprint Test is a simple test anyone can take that gives you a comprehensive snapshot of your cumulative ancestry.

Above:  Sample laboratory readout of a DNA profile or fingerprint.

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Back to Africa

Friday, September 06, 2013

Africa’s Circulatory Migration Route

By Teresa A. Panther-Yates

While it is probably true that we all came out of Africa some 200,000 years ago, some of these first ancestors of ours also returned before Europeans were Europeans. The migration path went both ways. This is a resounding discovery. Erika Chek Hayden in her recent Nature article, “African Genes Tracked Back” says this “reversal” or two-step migration meant that these ancestors reimported “…genes from the rest of the world [which] were carried back to southern Africa, long before European colonizers arrived.”

The findings come from a flurry of research made possible by better tools for surveying African genomes. They suggest that scientists previously underestimated the rich diversity of African genetics. Hayden quotes Luca Pagani, a geneticist at the Wellcome trust Saenger Institute near Cambridge, U.K who says, “Until now, we have been applying tools designed specifically for non-African people to African people.” Hayden also quotes Carina Schelbusch a geneticist at Uppsala University in Sweden, as saying, “It’s a really exciting time for African genetics.”

The new research also explains a mystery. It means that some African groups previously thought to be genetically isolated actually “…carry 1-5% of non- African DNA” according to population geneticists at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass., who examined the individual genetic variations of some 1,000 individuals (Hayden). This picture of admixture explains why some Africans carry non-African genes. In fact, some carry a lot of them.

For instance, the male Y-DNA haplotype R1 b1 which is the most common haplotype among Western Europeans is also found among some Africans. Miguel Gonzalez et al in his 2012 article, “The Genetic Landscape of Equatorial Guinea,” in the European Journal of Human Genetics says that the human Y- DNA chromosomes R1b1 though “very common in Europe are usually a rare occurrence in Africa,” but there have been some “…recently published studies that have reported high frequencies of this haplogroup” in parts of Africa. One wondered why until now. Hayden isn’t the first to propose the idea of an ancient journey out of Africa and then back again. There have been genetic clues before this. Gonzalez extrapolates from his R1b1 data “that this represents a ‘back-to-Africa’ migration during prehistoric times.” And Hammer et al in the article, “Out of Africa and Back In,” in the Oxford Journal of Evolution postulates that there was more than one African migration path.

Now that we have determined the migratory paths were more multifaceted than previously thought, what else can we extrapolate from this? Could people have (gasp!) also had boats and ships earlier than we allow them in our myopic hegemony of ideas? Certainly, discontinuous gene flow by sea could explain pockets of genetics that otherwise do not fit with the standard view of a welter of footsore people aimlessly trooping around the world and solely driven by survival.

Naw. We predict such an explanation will only be dismissed with ridicule. Human evolution has no motives according to the experts. It is completely random and unplanned. It obeys only the rules we make up for it.

Comments

Raymond commented on 16-Nov-2013 08:33 AM

It is interesting how much discussion occurs regarding "back migration" and a lack of discussion regarding the "Arab Slave Trade" which brough millions of Europeans to N. Africa as slaves and concubines. (Collusion?) Also, there were many Greek, Roman, Circassian, and other Mamlukes (arabic for slave) in N. Africa that contributed to the genetic make-up. Their descendants at still found in Berber tribes such as the Kabyle, Rif, etc. Some of these same groups even ruled Egypt for some time, erecting statues of themselves that are mistaken for ancient Egyptian artwork.

Most are familiar with the Zanj (African slaves) but are unfamiliar with the rest of those same documents mentioning the "European" women that were slaves in the harems. This provides a better explanation of European mtDNA in N. Africa than "back migration" from thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, we are only considering works from people during a time of immense racial predujice as valid references leading to useless debates, conjecture, and falsification of history.

DNA doesn't lie. People's rendering of history only confuses the DNA results. For example, how is it that Native American DNA is found in Africa and Europe? Could it be that Native Americans were taken as slaves to those places, or taken there centuries later in military campaigns? Are Native Americans descended from East Indians who migrated over a "land bridge" (NA's deny this) or did some East Indians intermarry with them when they were brought over as slaves in the 1600's (documented) or came with the Hessian Army (self admissions by the same in the 1800's; documented) and married into some of the tribes? DNA only proves the relation, not the "how" they are related.

Me commented on 07-Jun-2014 11:23 PM

"How is it that some Native American DNA is found in North Africa, is because we are all the same people just with different names. To support the theory that maybe our early ancestors had boats is more like common sense than something to be ridiculed. We have boats now, what will they say about us in another 200,000 years? Our early African ancestors travelled. Had boats. Some having civilizations along side Asians in the Americas called Olmec. Olmec being leading way to the Maya Aztec Zapotecs which are Native Americans or Indians or Amerindians. Being the same people or same mixture of African and Asian blood which was present in Egypt. If a white woman and black man have children in America what is it to say isn't the same as if an African or European had children in another location. It creates the same type of people.

African, Asian, and Europeans have mixed have been mixing and will continue to mix, we have all the answers to our biggest questions using common sense but because some don't want to except it we will keep doing all this research in hopes of finding another truth that settles better on our stomachs.


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Where Do I Come From: Donald Yates

Monday, July 29, 2013

Where Do I Come From

Real People's DNA Stories 


Sizemore Indians and British Jews

By Donald N. Yates

As soon as EURO DNA was released last month I quickly studied my new list of European nationalities where I have significant ancestral lines according to DNA Consultants' new autosomal population analysis. I had come to know and accept, of course, the usual suspects, compiled from the 24 populations available from ENFSI (European Network of Forensic Science Institutes). But the new list represented 71 populations and far surpassed ENFSI or any other database in commercial use. It had, for instance, the first European comparisons for countries like Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and Iceland. So how would my familiar matches—Scotland, Ireland, England, Belgium and the rest—shake out in the new oracle?

Some of the top matches—above British Isles or Northern European ancestry—were Central European. Here were the top 20:

Rank European Population Matches
1 Slovakia – Saris (n=848)
2 Finland (n = 469)
3 Slovakia – Zemplin (n=558)
4 Netherlands  (n = 231)
5 Slovakia – Spis (n=296)
6 Romanian - Transylvanian - Szekler (n = 257)
7 Romanian - Transylvanian - Csango (n = 220)
8 Scotland/Dundee (n = 228)
9 Switzerland (n = 200)
10 England/Wales (n = 437)
11 Ireland (n = 300)
12 Italy (n =103)
13 Denmark  (n = 156)
14 Romanian (n=243)
15 Swedish (n = 311)
16 Serbian - Serbia / Vojvodina / Montenegro (n = 100)
17 Icelandic (n=151)
18 Estonia (n = 150)
19 Romanian - Transylvania/Banat (n = 219)
20 Norwegian (n=1000)

Slovakia? Romania? To be sure, I had always had a fascination with both countries. In my salad days I studied in Europe and traveled to Bratislava, where I fell in love at first sight with the chiseled blonde visage of a friend of my university classmate. And I had also been to Romania in the days of its Communist regime, when my long-haired travel companion and I were welcomed like long lost relatives or conquering pop heroes. 

Admittedly, the results of an autosomal ancestry test are cumulative and combinatory. While they do reflect all your ancestry, as no other test can, you are cautioned not to use the matches to try to pinpoint lines in your family genealogy. There is always a temptation to over-interpret. 

My European admixture results from AncestryByDNA had yielded a confirmatory result:  20% Southeast Europe. That struck me at the time as odd. Yet Hungarian was now one of my top metapopulation results, too. (Remember, Hungarian data did not figure into ENFSI because Hungary is not in the European Union.)

The Scottish (my grandmother was a McDonald) made sense, as did all the other matches from what I knew through years of paper genealogy research. But I was unaware of any strong Central European lines.

Sizemore Research:  Pitfalls of Genetic Genealogy
Then I recalled the Sizemores. My great-great-grandmother was a Sizemore, and they were multiply connected with my Coopers, my mother's maiden name. Could the Central European effect in my EURO result be from the Sizemores?

Much ink—or at least many keystrokes—has been expended on the Sizemore controversy. There are pitched battles on genealogy forums and edit wars in cyberspace. One armed camp has them down as Melungeons and admixed Cherokees with crypto-Jewish strains. Another holds it as an article of faith that the Sizemores were a lily-white old Virginia British family and the surname comes from something like Sigismund (think Goetterdaemmerung). Y chromosome DNA shows ambiguous conclusions:  you can visit the advertisement page sponsored by Family Tree DNA. 

Alan Lerwick, a Salt Lake City genealogist, upset the apple cart some years ago by linking America's Sizemores to Michael Sismore, buried in the Flemish cemetery of the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower in London in 1684. That was the same parish as my Coopers lived in. Then and now, it is the most Jewish section of London.

Sizemore is not a British surname before the sixteenth century. It was clear to me long ago that neither my Sizemores nor my Coopers were Mama Bear, Papa Bear families. Spurred by my EURO DNA test results, I dug into my subscription at Ancestry.com and learned that Michael Sismore was recorded as being born as Michael Seasmer in Ashwell, an important village in north Hertfordshire, November 1, 1620. His parents were Edward Seasmer and Betterissa (a form of Beatrice). New information! Alert the list moderators and surname project guardians!

Seasmer is undoubtedly the same as Zizmer, an old Central European Jewish surname adduced in multiple families in Israel, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, Russia, Moldavia and the United States. Edward and Michael are favored first-names in the U.S. branches. The Hebrew letters, which can be viewed on numerous burials in Israel, are  (in reverse order, right to left) RMZZ. Cooper is a similar Jewish surname, common in Russia and Lithuania and Israel as well as the British Isles and the U.S. In fact, my father's surname, Yates, is a Hebrew anagram common in the same countries, meaning "Righteous Convert."

Hertfordshire was an important center for British Jewry, mentioned in the works of Hyamson, Jacobs and others (see map above). A good hypothesis to explain the transformation of Michael's name from Seasmer to Sismore and thence to Sizemore is this. His grandfather, a Zizmer, came to England in the time of Elizabeth, perhaps via the Low Lands, possibly as a soldier or cloth merchant. This could account for Michael Sizemore's burial in the Flemish cemetery of St Katharine's by the Tower, usually reserved for foreigners. It also explains the predilection in descendants for such names as Ephraim, Michael, Edward, William, John, Richard, James, George, Hiram, Isaac, Samuel, Solomon and Henry. And why girls were named Lillie, Lydia, Louisa, Naomi, Pharaba, Rebecca, Sarah and Vitula. The last name (also found in my wife's grandmother's name) was a Jewish amulet name. It meant "old woman" in Latin and was given to a child to augur a long life. 

Zismer took the form of Cismar, Cismarik, Zhesmer, Zizmor, Ziesmer, Zausmer, Cismaru and Tzismaro—all amply attested in the records of European Jewry, including Jewish Gen's Holocaust Database, with the records of over two million victims and survivors of the Nazi genocide of World War II. I am proud of my Jewish heritage through my great-grandmother and through my half-blood Cherokee Indian mother Bessie Cooper Yates. 

Thank you for indulging me in this genealogical excursion into a family mystery. Like the restaurateur, I would be to blame if I didn't eat in my own establishment. I can confidently say that DNA Consultants' new EURO DNA is a smorgasbord of genetic delights for those jaded by the old-fashioned sex-linked testing. I thank our R&D team, in particular Professor Wendell Paulson, our head statistics consultant, along with all those who helped vet its amazing power, and I encourage you to try it today!














Comments

Zoltan commented on 13-Sep-2013 03:48 PM

About Seizmore. If it really relates to Zizmer, Cismar etc. then it is a pure Hungarian surename: Csizmár, with the meaning of boot maker (Csizma=boot from the old turkish word of cizme)
Please note that the refferred areas of Slovakia and Transylvania are former Hungarian territories, so the connection is clear and matches with your DNA.

I do not know when you wrote the article but Hungary is in the EU since 2005.

I hope I could help.

cristina commented on 09-Nov-2014 02:27 AM

In Romanian also, until today, the name for boot maker is Cizmar, and also the name Cizmar, Cizmaru is a common one - from old turkish word of cizma = boot. Many names cover the describing occupation of the village / little towns inhabitants. In the same time, many jews from Hungaria, Romania (and so on in Central Europe) was workers - occupation: 'cizmari' - who took these names gived by the community.
Anyway, great job here, congrats !


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Where Do I Come From: Shawn

Monday, July 22, 2013

Where Do I Come from:  Shawn

Real People's DNA Stories

Ethnicity Beyond European Migration

By Shawn

My journey into DNA testing began with my desire to expand on my known heritage, while clarifying debated Jewish ancestry.  What I have found in return is that my ancestral paper trail only uncovers a small portion of the blood that runs through my veins.  My DNA Consultants results, for the most part were quite surprising.  My European matches were fairly consistent with my country origins on paper and surrounding areas.  The major surprise, however, was that my number one European match was Romani/Gypsy and my number 10 match was Czech Republic.... 

Things became much more interesting with my World Population Matches.  My scores (in order) were Romani/Gypsy, Middle Eastern, African, Iberian, Central European, African-American, Jewish, Mediterranean European, European American and Eastern European.  I also came up with Native American admixture to top it off.  These results are causing me to believe that there may be a line or more of family lineages that I have yet to tap into. 

Looking back on things now, I have received comments from others concerning my phenotype such as "I'm not sure what you are,” "You don't look Irish" and "You must have some Black ancestry."  Some have even just assumed I was Hispanic or Caucasian.  Interestingly enough, almost all acknowledge that they see my Italian/Spanish phenotype, while a few also see slight Native American.   

While my results provided insight into how diverse my blood really is, they also put an end to an age-old family debate as to our Jewish ethnicity.  One of my relatives from a few generations past would passionately defend her position that our family line was indeed Jewish, while another family member would vigorously put forth his position that we were not Jewish.  He would try to prove our non-Jewishness any time he could.  I also had another family member along that same family line say that he almost did not get hired for a job because the hirer thought he was Jewish.  I always believed these accounts, especially since as young as I can remember I have found this side of my family (Italian and German) to phenotypically look Italian and/or Jewish.  

So where does all this leave me now?  My results show my blood is much more than simply Italian, French, Irish and German.  They confirm family testimony of Spanish/Portuguese/Iberian and Jewish ancestry.  Perhaps more interestingly, my results leave me re-assessing my ethnicity or multi-ethnic heritage, end years of family verbal passages or debates and leave me with intriguing new ancestries that are waiting to be discovered. 

Comments

Maria OConnor commented on 23-Jul-2013 12:42 AM

Shawn: Countries frontiers are artificial. For example, there are people of celtic heritage in northern Spain, northern Portugal, all over Ireland, all over England, all over Scotland, all over Wales, Southern Germany, northern France, Northern Italy, etc. All of them, even considering the come from different places have the same celtic DNA. So, if you have an ancestor from Spain or Portugal, could be of celtic origen, or mediterranean origen.
If a person has jewish sefardi dna, it could be originated from Southern Spain, Southern Portugal, North Africa, Middle East, etc.
Also, in South America there are great numbers of people of European ancestry, including non hispanic non portugue ancestry, like Irish, German, Italians, etc.
Is quite complicated, due to ancient and new migrations.


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Khazarian Hypothesis of European Jewish Origins Vindicated

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Genetic Study Shows Rhineland Hypothesis False, 'Thirteenth Tribe' Theory Correct After All

In "Heretical History" and numerous other posts, we have argued that the contributions, genetic and cultural, of the Turkic-Iranic Khazars deserve much more attention than the cosseted theories of European Zionist Jews and the official views of the state of Israel on Jewish history. A new study by Eran Elhaik titled "The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypothesis," (Genome Biol. Evol. 5.1:61-74) bears out our thinking with hard evidence that seems likely to settle that rancorously-fought-over question once and for all. 

According to Science Daily (Jan. 16, 2013), "Despite being one of the most genetically analysed groups, the origin of European Jews has remained obscure . . . but the new study . . . sets to rest previous contradictory reports of Jewish ancestry." Elhaik's findings strongly support the Khazarian Hypothesis, as opposed to the Rhineland Hypothesis, of European Jewish origins. 

Ashkenazi ("Germanic") Jews embraced a Western European origin myth not only because it presented Jews as very white, at the top of the race pyramid, but because of the prestige it brought them of being a spin off of the Roman Empire. 

The Khazarian thesis acknowledges that the most important element is Middle Eastern among "brown" peoples, and that the period of efflorescence of Judaism in Europe began in the late Middle Ages under the influence of migrating Khazars. 

That's an entirely different version of history, one much closer to Arthur Koestler's "Thirteenth Tribe" account, a theory for which he was castigated by fellow Jews and especially Zionists. 

The new study was not possible until recently, when many of the gaps in Caucasian and Jewish genetics were filled for the first time, using autosomal approaches rather than sex-linked haplotype surveys. Elhaik's masterwork examines a comprehensive dataset of 1,287 unrelated individuals in 8 Jewish and 74 non-Jewish populations genotyped over a range of half a million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or markers. These data were adapted from a study by Doron Behar and colleagues from three years ago.

The central role of Khazaria was also not wanted or wished for among Eurocentric scholars, who tended to denigrate Ostjuden or Eastern Jews. Few historians conceded even the fact that Khazaria was a Jewish state that lasted nearly a millennium, where Hebrew was spoken, preferring to think of it as a sort of travelers tale or land of religious fiction.  

Elhaik used seven measures of ancestry, relatedness, admixture, allele sharing distances, geographical origins and migration patterns to identify the Caucasus-Near Eastern and European ancestral signatures in European Jews' genome along with a smaller, but substantial Middle Eastern genome. "The results were consistent in depicting a Caucasus ancestry for all European Jews," according to Science Daily

Heresy in a Nutshell

Elhaik wrote:  "The most parsimonious explanation for our findings is that Eastern European Jews are of Judeo-Khazarian ancestry forged over many centuries in the Caucasus. Jewish presence in the Caucasus and later Khazaria [a Hebrew-speaking Central Asian empire] was recorded as early as the late centuries BCE and reinforced due to the increase in trade along the Silk Road, the decline of Judah (1st-7th centuries), and the rise of Christianity and Islam. Greco-Roman and Mesopotamian Jews gravitating toward Khazaria were also common in the early centuries and their migrations were intensified following the Khazars' conversion to Judaism… The religious conversion of the Khazars encompassed most of the Empire's citizens and subordinate tribes and lasted for the next 400 years until the invasion of the Mongols. At the final collapse of their empire in the 13th century, many of the Judeo-Khazars fled to Eastern Europe and later migrated to Central Europe and admixed with the neighbouring populations."

According to Science Daily, Elhaik's findings explain otherwise conflicting results describing high heterogeneity among Jewish communities and relatedness to Middle Eastern, Southern European, and Caucasus populations not accounted for under the Rhineland Hypothesis. Although the study links European Jews to the Khazars, there are still questions to be answered. How substantial is the Iranian ancestry in modern day Jews (Khazars were themselves mixed)? Since Eastern European Jews arrived from the Caucasus, where did Central and Western European Jews come from, those usually called Sephardic?

Finally, if there was no mass migration out of Palestine at the 7th century, what happened to the ancient Judeans? --Shlomo Sand, the author of The Invention of the Jewish People, has maintained that there never were any expulsions or exoduses out of Palestine, only wholesale conversions to Islam. Thus, the true heirs of Judah are the persistent inhabitants who still occupy Jerusalem and the Holy Land, that is, Palestinians. 

It is ironic, to say the least, that these ancient Judeans are dispossessed by a nationalist colonial power with roots no deeper than nineteenth century Europe which exercises a force majeur based on mistaken notions of genetics and history. 

Photo above:  Arthur Koestler, the arch-heretic and persona non grata in the eyes of Jewish authorities, was unorthodox politically, religiously and sexually. 


Comments

Lee commented on 06-Jun-2013 09:23 PM

Your comments re: Rhineland vs Khazar theories are confused and wrong. Rhineland theory asserts that Jews origin is found in Palestine, firmly in the Middle East, not Europe. In fact, this belief is the basis for Jews returning to Palestine to claim what they see as their true ancestral land. This, of course, was critical in touching off the ongoing conflict in Palestine. The Kharzar theory posits that Jews are mostly descended from Turkic peoples, those who occupied the Caucus Mountain range. These people would be much closer to what you refer to as the "top of the race pyramid" because they would be far whiter than the "brown people" of Palestine aka the Middle East. So, you have your theories arse-backwards, if you will.

Hezakiah Levinson commented on 21-Nov-2013 06:59 PM

Hogwash. Archaeology shows Jews in Europe over three hundred years before the Khazarian Monarchy even converted.The Köln Synagogue in Cologne, Germany has been excavated 2007/2012 and dates clearly pre Carolingian (bef. 780/90). There is at the moment some strong evidence that it dates back to the early 4th century when emperor Constantine in 321 issued a privilege for the Cologne Jews. This has been confirmed recently by the find of a rainwater mikveh of the 4th century inside the building complex). The oldest synagogue in Western Europe uncovered in an archaeological dig to date is the Ostia Synagogue in the ancient Roman port of Ostia, in Italy. The present building, of which partial walls and pillars set upright by archaeologists remain, dates from the 4th century. However, excavation revealed that it is on the site of an earlier synagogue dating from the middle of the 1st century CE, that is, from before the destruction of the Temple.The Main Synagogue of Barcelona, built in the 3rd or 4th century, has been described as the oldest synagogue in Europe.


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An Anthropology Student's Theory

Monday, March 18, 2013

We received an interesting email from Bailey Edsall-Parr, an anthropology student, customer and genealogy enthusiast from Michigan. We present it here as a guest blog post.

I am currently researching the inter-relatedness of most, if not all, humans alive today. Anyways, I have a personal interest in genetics, mathematics, statistics and probability theory and have incorporated it into my studies. Any information if my theory is in any way "valid" is what I am seeking.  Before I elaborate my theory, here is some background information: According to the Law of Truly Large Numbers... "that with a sample size large enough, any outrageous thing is likely to happen. In a sample of 1000 independent trials, the probability that the event does not happen in any of them is 
or 36.8%. The probability that the event happens at least once in 1000 trials is then 1 − 0.368 = 0.632 or 63.2%. The probability that it happens at least once in 10,000 trials is .

.
This means that this 'unlikely event' has a probability of 63.2% of happening if 1000 chances are given, or over 99.9% for 10,000 chances. In other words, a highly unlikely event, given enough tries, is even more unlikely to not occur.

That was the Law of Truly Large Numbers. What I have below is from a computer scientist:   

If there were random intermixing, then we would each have ~1 million ancestors living in 1500 AD, out of a world population of ~500 million. So the fractional overlap between two people would be about 1/500th.

But the probability that two people share at least one common ancestor would be essentially 100%.   Basically, you are choosing a random number between 1 and 500 a million times and you're asking whether you ever choose number 500.  In a million trials, we expect this to happen 2000 times.  So that it happens at least once is guaranteed.

If we get rid of the random intermixing, the fractional overlap will drop to much less than 1/500th.  But I suspect that the probability of at least one overlap will remain very high.

Calculations and Premises
If the population in 1500 was 500 million, and it is 6 billion today (12x larger).

If the average generation length is 30 years, there are 17 generations in 500 years.

So the average number of surviving children per mother is exp((log 12)/17) = 1.157

Since a child has two parents, the average number of surviving children per person is 2 * 1.157 = 2.315

So this is the average growth rate per generation for the descendants of a person in 1500.
2.315^17 = 1.575 million. So an average person in 1500 has about 1.5 million offspring alive today.  Sampling from the whole world, the probability that a random person from 1500 is an ancestor of a random person in 2000 would be 1.5 million / 6 billion = 0.025%. If you were only considering people in a region like Europe, it would probably be something like 1.4 million / 700 million = 0.2%.

Here is my theory:

Let's say 500 years ago, due to this probabilistic law, almost everyone alive today had at least one ancestor from like say, China, Japan or other far-off places. This may not apply, of course, to isolated populations. 

Would this theory likely be true given enough time?

Thank you for your time and efforts. I have never been disappointed with your products and your postings are quite interesting for me,especially, being an anthropology student.

Bailey Edsall-Parr

Comment? Contact the author at baileyedsallparr (a) yahoo.com.


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Genetic Genealogy Like Astrology?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Maybe If It's First Generation Sex-Linked Testing, Not Autosomal 

Dust off the crystal ball. Scientists consider DNA ancestry services “genetic astrology,” according to a recent BBC article by Pallab Ghosh. In “Some DNA Ancestry Services Akin to ‘Genetic Astrology’,” Ghosh quotes Professor David Balding as maintaining that ‘“such histories are either so general as to be personally meaningless or they are just speculation from thin evidence.’” One article, “Don’t Believe the Guy Who Claims He’s Descended From Vikings,” quotes evolutionary geneticist Mark Thomas, as saying “these tests have so little rigor that they are better thought of as genetic astrology.”  That may be right about some tests. But the key word is “some.”

Not all DNA ancestry tests or companies are created equal.  It is as much an oversimplification to suggest they are as it would be to claim that all lab tests are the same or all pharmaceutical drugs are the same. Do you get a shot for epilepsy when you have diabetes? Hardly. There are DNA tests and there are DNA tests. Customers are generally careful to get  the right medicine from a reputable doctor. A customer needs to be just as careful choosing a DNA test and a DNA ancestry company. Not all DNA ancestry companies, even some of the larger companies, have an ISO certified lab, for instance. This not only guarantees the reliability of results, it is also the highest standard in the genomics industry. A few have this laboratory benchmark, but it is, unfortunately, not required, in direct- to-the-consumer DNA testing. Would you want to entrust your genetic identity with anything less? The buyer needs to be aware that with non-certified labs there is a stronger possibility of contamination or lost or swapped samples. I know someone who was the unknown victim of a sample swapped. He thought he was someone else for two years.

Secondly, there are a variety of tests to choose from. There are sex-linked tests (Y chromosome, X chromosome- mitochondrial) and non-sex linked tests called autosomal. The sex-linked tests are haplotype tests based on genetic markers handed down by the male (Y chromosome, received only by other males) or female (mitochondrial). The industry started out with sex-linked testing, but its limitations dictated a move increasingly to autosomal or non-sex linked testing. There are weaknesses with sex-linked tests.

The mitochondrial genome is small compared with the nuclear genome according to the article “Mitochondrial Genome Analysis with Haplotyping” which means there cannot be that much variation with mitochondrial DNA analysis. For instance, some have expressed doubts that the recently found Leicester skeleton could be Richard III because of the mitochondrial DNA analysis that was done. Live Science writer, Stephanie Pappas, quoted Maria Avila, a computational biologist at the Center for GeoGenetics at the [British] Natural History Museum as saying “people could share mitochondrial DNA even if they don’t share a family tree” (Pappas).  

How is this possible? Mitochondrial DNA is ancient DNA and mutates slowly.  In the article, “Doubts Remain that the Leicester Body is Richard III,” a Mark Thomas at University College London is quoted as saying that “people can have matching mitochondrial DNA by chance and not be related.” So, it might not be Richard III after all. Male line haplotype testing has different limitations. “The Male Y- linked tests have very rapid mutation rates and are very fragile, so you can get a lot of errors with that type of testing,” according to Dr. Donald N.Yates of DNA Consultants.

According to a recent New Scientist article by Colin Baras, “The Father of All Men Is 340,000 Years Old,” the Y chromosome seems more ancient than previously thought. If so, it is also less stable than we thought. Brian Sykes, Professor of Genetics at Oxford University and the author of The Seven Daughters of Eve, makes a strong argument that the Y chromosome is weakening and in trouble in his book, Adam’s Curse. He says it is “doomed to a slow and humiliating decline” (279) because of its instability and rapid genetic mutation and is thus headed toward extinction. Before the 1990’s paternity testing was based on Y chromosome comparisons and limited to fathers and sons. Sometimes, an uncle would be mistaken as the father. Today, it relies on autosomal DNA comparisons, can be applied to females, and is 99.99% accurate.

But then there are non-sex-linked Autosomal DNA tests which are based on a different science altogether. Anyone can take this traditional type of Autosomal DNA test because it does not rely on X or Y chromosomes (women are unable to take the Male Y- linked test and must entice a male in her line, if one is available, to take this test). This test is not testing ancient DNA but  goes back only some four or five generations, so it does not have these limitations. And it provides a complete analysis of all ancestral lines. Not just one line at a time as in haplotype testing. This is next generation ancestry DNA testing and the wave of the future. Moreover, this type of testing is more stable and has more scientific validity as it uses the same science that is used in the legal court system, by the government, and on CSI comparing loci markers to population databases. And two research teams independently reached the same groundbreaking results that the DNA mutation rate is slower than previously thought:  James X Sun et al., in the article, "A Direct Characterization of Human Mutation Based on Microsatellites," in Nature Genetics 44/10 (October 2012):1161-65, and A. Kong et al., in the article "Rate of de novoMutations and the importance of Father's Age to Disease Risk," in Nature 488 (2012):471-75. All done by the magic of math and laws of large numbers.

What does this mean concerning autosomal DNA ancestry tests? They have even more scientific validity. This second-generation type of DNA ancestry testing is based on these same genetic markers, and that is confirmation that the alleles on your DNA that are examined using a statistical basis have been relatively unchanged for the past 20,000 years. That’s about twice the length of what we call world history, hence a meaningful enough time frame for valid inferences about population patterns and ancestry of individuals. These are markers that everyone has (and why anyone can take an autosomal ancestry test).  These genetic markers change at a much slower rate than the Y chromosome which seems to be highly changeable, depending on the father’s age (Kong 201). (The Y chromosome is a marker only males have. It is used for other types of tests: male, haplotype, sex-linked DNA tests. Only males can take these tests, and it only provides information about that one male line).

Of course, anything can be over-interpreted. DNA testing is not magic. Maybe you should put that crystal ball up after all.

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Some Indians Migrated to Australia 4,000 Years Ago

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Genome-wide data substantiate Holocene gene flow from India to Australia

  1. Mark Stonekinga
  1. Edited by James O’Connell, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, and approved November 27, 2012 (received for review July 21, 2012

    From PNAS Online:  http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/01/09/1211927110

Abstract

The Australian continent holds some of the earliest archaeological evidence for the expansion of modern humans out of Africa, with initial occupation at least 40,000 y ago. It is commonly assumed that Australia remained largely isolated following initial colonization, but the genetic history of Australians has not been explored in detail to address this issue. Here, we analyze large-scale genotyping data from aboriginal Australians, New Guineans, island Southeast Asians and Indians. We find an ancient association between Australia, New Guinea, and the Mamanwa (a Negrito group from the Philippines), with divergence times for these groups estimated at 36,000 y ago, and supporting the view that these populations represent the descendants of an early “southern route” migration out of Africa, whereas other populations in the region arrived later by a separate dispersal. We also detect a signal indicative of substantial gene flow between the Indian populations and Australia well before European contact, contrary to the prevailing view that there was no contact between Australia and the rest of the world. We estimate this gene flow to have occurred during the Holocene, 4,230 y ago. This is also approximately when changes in tool technology, food processing, and the dingo appear in the Australian archaeological record, suggesting that these may be related to the migration from India.

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