DNA Consultants’ blog

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

Was Your Colonial Forebear Jewish?

One of the remarkable suggestions in our book Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America (McFarland 2012) was that both the First Families of Virginia and Pilgrim Mothers and Fathers of Massachusetts included many colonists of Jewish ancestry (usually Sephardic). There were, in fact, Jews, ex-Jews and crypto-Jews (and Muslims and crypto-Muslims) hidden in the ship passenger lists and early tax rolls of all thirteen colonies, with Georgia (chapter 9) proposed to be the “most Jewish.”

Bering Land Bridge Research from the Kankakee Swamp

Research by a Valparaiso University geography professor and his students on the creation of Kankakee Sand Islands of Northwest Indiana is lending support to evidence that the first humans to settle the Americas came from Europe, a discovery that overturns decades of classroom lessons that nomadic tribes from Asia crossed a Bering Strait land-ice bridge. Valparaiso is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research.

White People Behaving Badly and Ancient Giants

By Teresa A. Panther-Yates

What if there once really were giants? We are familiar with tales of giants in fairy tales, like those in Jack and the Bean Stalk, or in tall-tales in movies like Big Fish. Giants are also mentioned in the Bible in several places: ” There were giants in those days” (Genesis 6:4). They have become part of our popular culture. But now that we have grown up, we no longer believe in giants. We no longer believe they could have ever existed, just as we no longer believe in the existence of Cinderella or Santa Claus.

Top DNA Stories of the Year

This was definitely the year that was in DNA news. Here are, we propose, the top three stories.

First, last June came the U.S. Supreme Court decision that police officers can now legally take DNA from anyone they arrest. Yes, and they then then enter your DNA profile into a database where they can match it with existing samples (Dan Noswolitiz, “It’s Now Legal for the Police to Collect DNA,” Popular Science).

DNA: Storage Medium of the Future

One strand would hold libraries of digital information

The next decade’s version of Facebook, Twitter, or Pandora could be digitally encoded on DNA. How? The next app? A card in one’s wallet? Who knows?

Too Big to Feel

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.

Where Do I Come From: James Shoemaker

Where Do I Come From: James Shoemaker
Real People’s DNA Stories
Bible Studies, DNA Tests, Mother’s Nursing-Home Confessions Lead to New Life

NOVEMBER 16, 2013 — Until he took an autosomal ancestry test, James T. Shoemaker had little concept of his heritage. He assumed he was just an average white European American like his Appalachian neighbors.