Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Yeah Baby. I Have Neanderthal DNA.

This, my dears, is a "spit kit." I am a naturally curious soul, and I recently read somewhere in some magazine about a company called 23 and me (23 as in the 23 pairs of chromosomes all human beings have) that will test your DNA and tell you your biological origins.

And I don't just mean your mommy and daddy and a generation or so back--I mean, your origins from as long as 15,000 years ago. They can even tell if you have any (gasp!) Neanderthal DNA in you. (Something like 2.5% is average for most of us--yes, Homo sapiens sapiens did mate with the Neanderthals, but our superior brains deemed us the fittest; we survived; the Neanderthals did not. I have approximately 2.3% of Neanderthal DNA. Ha! Maybe that explains the bushy eyebrows.)

Now, as we all know, the very first humans originated in Africa. So every last one of us started off there. But then there were migrations--to the north, then east, then back west and farther north, etc. Now, since I'm a female, the company could only test my maternal line (unless I were a bizarre anomaly who possesses a Y chromosome, which I don't), so I could only get results for my mother's bloodlines. I'm considering buying my brother a kit for Christmas, since Dad is dead, assuming we actually do have the same daddy, which I'm pretty sure we do, lol.... although he is the only person in the family with green eyes, hmmm.) But I'd be interested to see my paternal bloodline as well. Problem is, these kits cost $299. On the other hand, you get quite a bit of information for that amount of money.

So I joked on Facebook yesterday that I'm about as honky as a honky can get. My maternal bloodline is a subgroup of Haplogroup RO, known as Haplogroup V. Haplogroup V originated in Iberia during the Ice Age. After a last burst of cold conditions roughly 12,000 years ago, migrations carried the haplogroup northward along the Atlantic coast and through central Europe to Scandinavia. Today it is found in a wide variety of populations from the Basques of Spain to the Saami of Finland. My color coded "planet" chart put me in way northern Scandinavia, just a tick over from England--which is then probably where my mother's family migrated to and lived for many generations before heading over to America.

Other interesting things you can find out from the site are diseases common to your DNA group, responses your DNA group is likely to have to certain medications, and other interesting health-related things. One total non-surprise is that I genetically have a tendency to obesity, heart disease, and Type II diabetes, which does indeed run in my family.... so if it turns out we also get that on my father's side, well, we've got a double whammy and it's no surprise so many of us die in our 50s.

How it works: you pay your money, the company ships you a spit kit (pictured above), and you spend about 15 minutes gathering up enough spit to spit in the tube to the fill line. Then you ship your sample back in a pre-paid box and it takes about 2-3 weeks to get your results. The website is here: www.23andme.com.

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