DNA Consultants’ blog

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

Charles Darwin, Neanderthal


Did you know that Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published in 1859, does not contain a single mention of the word “evolution”? I am reading it for the first time and was struck not only by the absence of that term in Darwin’s first edition (it does begin to creep in after 20 years in later editions) but many other discrepancies between the historical Darwin and modern Darwinism.

Elvis DNA


For Bobbi Bacha of Blue Moon Investigations it was the chance of a lifetime. Attending a celebrity auction more than a decade ago, she put in the winning bid for some blood and semen stained sheets. Nearly 20 years old, but carefully preserved, they were reputed to come from the hotel room where Elvis Presley stayed on his Farewell Tour in 1977. She won’t tell us how much she paid but says, “I could have bought a comfortable medium-sized home.”

More Light on the Melungeons


Phyllis Starnes drew many threads of Melungeon research together when she delivered her presentation on autosomal DNA validation studies at the Fifteenth Melungeon Union, held atWarren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC July 15-16, 2011. Sponsored by the Melungeon Heritage Association of Kingsport, Tenn., the conference was appropriately titled, “Carolina Connections: Roots and Branches of Mixed Ancestry.”

Replacement or Assimilation: Origin of Our Species


In a review of Chris Stringer’s book The Origin of Our Species(Lane, 2011), Jean-Jacques Hublin sides with one of the first promoters of the 30-year old Recent African Origin hypothesis and supports the notion that modern humans out of Africa entirely replaced Neanderthals because they were, well, fitter and superior.

Hidebound Cycladic History


Will the archeological establishment’s obtuseness about prehistory and the religion of the Great Goddess ever falter? In an article titled “Pieces of a Bronze Age Puzzle” in the current issue of Archaeology Magazine (Sept/Oct 2011, p. 15), Jessica Woodard discusses the “enigma” of thousands of broken Cycladic figurines from the tiny, uninhabited island of Keros near Naxos. Summarizing the decades long work of Cambridge archeologist Colin Renfrew, she dates the site to 2800 to 2300 BCE and (are you ready for this) speculates there was a lot of “social activity as well as ritual activity…relating to beliefs about life, death, and perhaps the hereafter.”

Aboriginal Australian History Finally Resolved


Everyone probably has wondered at some time what makes Aboriginal Australians different from other people, where they came from and how old their ethnic type is. Well, wonder no more. Following up on the previous post, “Australian Aboriginal DNA Gets Attention,” this post will summarize the groundbreaking article in Science magazine, M. Rasmussen et al., “An Aboriginal Australian Genome Reveals Separate Human Dispersals into Asia” (Science 334, 7 Oct. 2011, 94-98).