DNA Consultants’ blog

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

Were Solutreans in Ancient America Egyptians?

Yes, according to Bill Tiffee, whose article on Solutreans in America will appear in volume 29 of the series Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers. Titled “Were Ancient Egyptians the Solutreans Who First Settled America?” the new study, he says, “looks at the possibility that the Solutreans who first settled America were from Egypt, and that the genetic marker X is found in the highest concentrations among the Druze (who migrated from Egypt 1,000 years ago)and the descendants of the Moundbuilder Native groups including the Sioux and Algonquin and possibly the Cherokee.”

Identifying by Ethnicity in 2012

Genetics has transformed many of our notions of race, ethnicity and identity. How do you identify your ancestry when checking off ethnic options on an official form? How do you identify yourself informally with friends and family? Have you ever “changed” your ethnic self-identification because of a DNA test? These and related questions were the topics discussed at a 90-minute colloquium at the 12th Annual International Diversity Conference held on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, June 12.

American Indians and Turkic People Share Deep Ancestry

We’ve known or suspected as much for a long time. American Indians and Turkic peoples of the Altai region of southern Siberia share common ancestors. American scientists Thomas Jefferson and Constantine Rafinesque were the first to demonstrate this genetic similarity, long before the days of DNA. Now an article in American Journal of Human Genetics has clenched the argument with mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA studies.

Banned in Tucson

As you choose your summer reading, please take a moment to mourn the demise of several “ethnic” titles that have been taken off library shelves recently in several states, including Arizona. Among the incendiary books that are now taboo, thanks to the work of lobbyists in Washington, are Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha(too foreign), Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird(too liberal) and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451(too hot).

Melungeons: Seeing Red, Seeing Black

Sorry, Jack, no cigar. Your Grandpa’s Indians are not what you think. And it is not true “most free African American families that originated in colonial Virginia and Maryland descended from white servant women who had children by slaves or free Africans” (source). Negro males did not go around selectively “fathering” little man-children on “white servant women” in early America.

Melungeons Forever

As the sponsor of the only published study to date on the genes of Melungeons, “Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia,” by Donald N. Yates and Elizabeth C. Hirschman, the owners of this blog naturally have an interest in Melungeons, a controversial American ethnic type.

The Sins of Science

Science, it seems, has been “the new religion” for a long time. And by the same token, it has always had its apostates and heretics, even its unremarkable and quotidian sinners. In an article titled “Disgrace,” Charles Gross, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University, reviews the whole subject of contemporary and historical scientific misconduct (The Nation, Jan. 9/16, 2012, pp. 25-32). He finds nothing new in the shocking case of Harvard’s Marc Hauser, who was exposed two years ago for scientific misconduct, in of all fields, the biological basis of morality and genetic inheritance of doing evil.

How Good Is Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Screening?

It is clear that consumers, and many geneticists and medical professionals, underestimate the complexity of genetically determined diseases and their risk levels as measured by genomic testing. The question is whether it is ethically sound to sell consumers packaged DNA tests that could exaggerate their risk for say, heart disease, or render a false negative result.