DNA Consultants’ blog

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

Scientists Paying Attention to North American Mound Civilizations

The current issue of Science contains three articles that suggest the days of bashing North America’s “Moundbuilder Myth” are over . . . maybe.

America’s Lost City
Andrew Lawler
New excavations reveal surprising dimensions to North America’s oldest city and its great earthen monuments.

New Study Confirms Radical Drop in Native Populations after 1492

Recent genetic studies have tended to throw cold water on the size and decimation of American Indian populations on European contact after 1492. A new study shows the falsehood of this thinking, and perhaps we are back to using the word “conquest” instead of the euphemistic term “contact.” The conqueror of the Americas was not Europeans, though, but the diseases they unleashed on Indians.

Gene Surfing and the French-Canadian Frontier

Gene surfing is a process in population expansion whereby certain variations become prominent and dominant in a short time, appearing to skip the slow, steady, uniform accumulation of variegation and diversification. According to a study of the population structure and genealogies of Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean in Quebec, this type of drastic change accompanied the immigrant wave front that spread over the area in the 17th century. “Deep Human Genealogies Reveal a Selective Advantage to Be on an Expanding Wave Front” in Science magazine describes the resulting demographics.

Fifteenth Anniversary of New Genome Sequencing

At a time when it seemed that American science had bitten off more than it could chew with the Human Genome Project, Craig Venter and his innovative company published “A New Strategy for Genome Sequencing.” Appearing in the journal Nature in 1996, the Venter multi-center approach bypassed laborious gene mapping and allowed the HGP to meet its goal of full sequence information on the human genome in 2000.

Return of the Goddess–We Mean It Literally

A Greek goddess statue in the style of the Elgin Marbles was repatriated by a Los Angeles museum, marking the return of a valuable, but stolen piece of antiquity from the United States to Italy. Known as the Morgantina Aphrodite or Venus, the 7-foot tall marble is now displayed in a 17th century former Capuchin monastery in the tiny town of Aidone in central Sicily.

Gypsy Migrations

The Gypsies, or Roma, or Romani (so called because of their concentration in Romania) are a far-flung distinctive population with a lot of diversity. In our database, we have samples of four Gypsy populations, plus samples for Romania, Macedonia and Hungary which you can match if you have even a small degree of Gypsy/Romani.