DNA Consultants’ blog

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

Signs of Crypto-Jewish Heritage


List Proven to Work in Part Also for Melungeon, Cherokee Family History. As part of our series on Jewish ancestry, we reproduce below an appendix from the forthcoming book, Star, Crescent and Cross:  Jews and Muslims in Colonial America, by Elizabeth C. Hirschman and Donald N. Yates.

Jewish II Characteristic of Ashkenazi Jews


Since the spate of Jewish genetic studies appearing this summer, reports in the media have announced that nearly all Ashkenazi Jews descend from only four women, and that if you are Ashkenazi you are likely to be no farther distant in kinship than fifth or sixth cousins from any other Ashkenazi Jew (for instance, your spouse).

Now Come Jewish Autosomal DNA Studies


Two major research articles on Jewish DNA appeared in June. As reported by Nicolas Wade in the New York Times in an article titled “Studies Show Jews’ Genetic Similarity,” they settle an old controversy. One of the surveys of genomic or autosomal DNA was conducted by Gil Atzmon of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Harry Ostrer of New York University and appears in the American Journal of Human Genetics. The other, led by Doron M. Behar of the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa and Richard Villems of the University of Tartu in Estonia, is published in the journal Nature.

The Secret History of the English


They Probably Always Talked Like That

One of the startling revelations by Stephen Oppenheimer is that a form of English was probably spoken from the beginning of the colonization of the British Isles. Just as genetic bedrock was laid down by the earliest inhabitants, to persist relatively unchanged through subsequent invasions by other peoples like the Romans, the English tongue has been dominant as the language of the land, admitting little admixture with Anglo-Saxon and Celtic. (See Stephen Oppenheimer, The Origins of the British, pp. 303ff.)

100,000 Year Old Neanderthal Artifacts Found in Britain


Ancient flint meat-cutting tools found in sediment along a highway in Dartford, Kent, prove Neanderthals were present in Britain before the beginning of the last ice age (and possibly before the previous two or three cold periods or interglacials), when the British Isles were joined to mainland Europe due to low sea levels. The find pushes back the earliest known evidence for Neanderthals in England by 40,000 years, according to a June 1 report in the Daily Mail headlined “Neanderthal Man Was Alive in Britain at Start of Ice Age.

Secrets of the Anasazi


Why You Do Not Have (and Don’t Want) Enemy Ancestors

When I first visited Chaco Canyon in northern New Mexico I got a creepy feeling. Who were these people? The staff, mostly Navajo and not descendants of the original inhabitants of the site, said they were the Anasazi, a Navajo term meaning “enemy ancestors.” When I pressed for more answers, I was told they belonged to the Chaco Culture. They were Chacoans.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at American Colleges


To Do DNA or Not to Do DNA?

Much Ado about Nothing

American education is in such a state of decline and confusion that the following new program, with all its pros and cons, seems tantamount to a mad hatter’s tea party. We reproduce a description of it from Nature in all its carefully nuanced and agonizing detail.

Plato Prehistorian and Geneticist


Mary Settegast is described on the jacket simply as an archeological researcher, the 20-year-old book being Plato Prehistorian; 10,000 to 5,000 B.C. Myth, Religion, Archaeology(Hudson:  Lindisfarne, 1990). It’s obvious she is not a member of the entrenched academic community of archeologists and prehistorians, for she spends most of the introduction to her fascinating study inveighing against the Old Model and New Archeology and defending the value of myth.

Most Humans Part Neanderthal


The bombshell arrived with the May 7, 2010 issue of Science Magazine. Entitled “A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome,” it presented the years-long attempt of an international team of scientists to derive DNA from ancient female Neanderthal bones and determine if there was any genetic overlap with humans. The news was so sensational that the journal made the original scientific report and all collateral materials free to everyone, along with a podcast, multimedia presentation “The Neandertal Genome” and slew of links and forums for comments.