DNA Consultants’ blog

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

Researchers Have Toehold on Past Million Years

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany last week announced they have completed the first high-quality sequencing of a Neanderthal genome based on a hundredth of a gram of DNA extracted from a 100,000 year-old toe bone in a Russian cave and are making it freely available online for other scientists to study. Advantageously, Neanderthal and Denisovan remains were found in the same cave, making for breakthrough comparisons in hominid history.

Khazarian Hypothesis of European Jewish Origins

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.

Genetic Genealogy Like Astrology?

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.’”

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.