DNA Consultants’ blog

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

An Anthropology Student’s Theory

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.

Wack Jobs and Cyber-Bullies on Wikipedia

You’ve heard of Gaius Flavius Antoninus, the assassin of Julius Caesar. You are probably familiar with crocodile shears, a notorious torture device. If you are an aficionado of the annals of rock and roll, you know about the band named Tilly that perished in an airplane crash on December 12, 1956 en route to a “Lester Concert Hall.”

Richard III’s New Winter of Discontent

Shakespeare painted the last of the York rulers of England as a murderous maniac who was rightly dispatched to hell by Henry Tudor in 1485. But the story of Richard III’s skeleton supposedly dug up last year in a parking lot may top that of the Bard for pulling the wool over our eyes. Or it may be the luckiest archeological find since King Tut . . . .

Junk DNA? We Don’t Think So

We are our DNA. It was not a surprise to find that our entire DNA is Functional (“Junk DNA Isn’t Junk, and That Isn’t Really News”). The surprise is in the discovery of what we can do with what we once thought was junk.

Telltale Heart–and Head–of French Kings

DNA Meets History in Chilling Forensic Case about Louis XVI and Henry IV
“Les Miserables” Lives Again! DNA, not Gothic literature, has all the best stories and tales of murder and intrigue. According to Sam Kean, author of The Violinist’s Thumb: And other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius as Told by Our Genetic Code, “ …Somewhere in the tangle of strands are the answers to many historical mysteries about human beings that were once thought lost forever.”  Kean says each one of us has”… enough DNA to stretch from Pluto to the sun and back,” and “…every human activity leaves a forensic trace in our DNA” and the story that DNA tells, Keans says, “…is a larger and more intricate tale of the rise of human beings on Earth: why we’re one of nature’s most absurd creatures, as well as its crowning glory.”

Is There an Irony Gene?

Richard Lewontin’s Disappearing Act

The octogenarian bête noir of biological determinism reviews three new books about why we should be proud of our ancestry–or just be quiet about it. “There is a certain irony,” he writes, “in claiming an undemonstrated biological superiority for a group, six million of whom were slaughtered for their claimed natural degeneracy.” If your dynosaur feathers are not ruffled yet, read on. 

Carolina Dedicates Genome Sciences Building

New Center is Hiring
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill dedicated its new Genome Sciences Building on University Day, Oct. 12, 2012, a major event in the increasingly interdisciplinary world of genome science. Located at the geographical center of campus, the Genome Sciences Building has an overarching goal: to foster collaborations at the intersection of different disciplines – and in every way, it is designed to do just that, according to the university.

Elizabeth Hirschman, Modern Pioneer

We interviewed Rutgers marketing professor Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman, author of several books and articles incorporating DNA in her research, to hear her personal story in our continuing series about the people behind the scenes in the field of DNA testing.

Were Neanderthals the First Artists?

Were Neanderthals capable of creating art? The idea seems shocking to us. After all, we learned in school that these were brutish savages without higher thinking and symbolic thought or expression. The picture of a Neanderthal making hand prints in Spanish caves or making shell necklaces is odd indeed because art is largely “considered evidence of sophisticated symbolic thinking, [and] has traditionally been attributed to modern humans, who reached Europe some 40,000 years ago” according to the recent Wired Science article, “First Painters May Have Been Neanderthal Not Human.” (Left:  Panel of Hands in the El Castillo Cave, Spain, dated to 37,300 years old, photo by Pedro Saura.)