DNA Consultants’ blog

Read reviews of science articles, new research and news reports on ancestry testing, ancient DNA and popular genetics

Beyond the Noble Savage: Chateaubriand’s Chactas and Atala


The concept of the noble savage can be traced to the earliest accounts of American Indians. It was championed by poets, dramatists and philosophers. Not until the author Chateaubriand, a Breton nobleman who actually lived among the North American Indians, published Atala: Or, The Love and Constancy of Two Savages in the Desert in 1801 did the image of Indians substantially change in the minds of Europeans and their descendants in America.

Private Alleles Reveal Minor Ancestry


It is widely accepted that STRs are non-coding in nature and are therefore not implicated in gene expression. By the same token, scientists used to think that single variations in the number of repeats (STRs) in your autosomal profile could not be correlated with population or ancestry, that you needed at least four STR alleles to reach meaningful conclusions.

20 Years of Melungeon Research


It has been 20 years since the genetic survey of Melungeons by Jones. This overview of studies of Melungeons from a genetic perspective by Donald N. Yates took shape first in 2002 and led to a chapter in Ancestors and Enemies: Essays on Melungeons (Phoenix: Panther’s Lodge, 2013).

Prayer during Time of Pestilence


If anyone thinks the ancient citizens of Mexico were dumb bunnies or primitive pagans, please read this prayer translated from Uto-Aztecan. Its rhetoric, wisdom and stylistic power is palpable today.

Native American Encyclopedia of Georgia: Book Review


Hundreds of antiquarian maps and the artist’s own colored drawings enhance the value of the work. An example is on p. 32, “Nagoochee Valley, Detail of Jacques LeMoyne Map.” An important map of the author’s own creation on p. 30 is entitled, “Ethnic Groups Living on the South Atlantic Coast before the Arrival of the Spanish.”

More Dirty Little Secrets of DNA Testing


More than 26 million DNA samples have been collected since the new field of commercialized personal genomics was announced with a big splash in the pages of the journal NATURE over thirteen years ago.

Calling All Cherokees


The Audience Given by the Trustees of Georgia to a Delegation of Creek Indians of 1734-35 illustrates a common pitfall of historical research. Clues to the big picture sometimes hide in the frame of history. Marginalized communities and fragile ethnic identities often have a role out of proportion to their small numbers.