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DNA Is Like a Box of Chocolates

Box of Chocolate Candies

We have talked before about how DNA is inherited RANDOMLY, meaning you don't get exactly the same genes as your siblings. DNA molecules split and recombine in a mad frenzy of swiping left or swiping right when reproducing. You never know what you're gonna get, Forrest!

That's why it is recommended when you are trying to solve a birth parent DNA mystery, for example, that you get as many known relatives as possible to take a test. So, no, it's not just a ploy to get more of your money by the testing companies, you WILL get different results and have I got a great example to show you this week!

You may recall that last October we looked at the inherited ethnicities between Daughter and her First Cousin (meaning they share the same grandparents) as delivered by MyHeritage in my "Ethnicity Comparison - It's All About That Base" blog post (link at the bottom for your convenience). Here's the illustration of the two, Daughter is on the right, Cousin is on the left:

Ethnicity Comparison Chart from MyHeritage

We weren't expecting them to be the same. The 6.2% West Asian (Turkey, the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, etc.) was a surprise, but not mind blowing. Cousin's brother had done a Y DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA and now agreed to additional autosomal testing so we could get the full maternal and paternal results. After his autosomal results were returned we uploaded the DNA info to MyHeritage (Ancestry won't take anybody other company's test results) and here is what they said about Cousin 2:

Ethnicity results

Wait! No English? 9% Iberian?

Holy cow, I was afraid I was looking at a "Not Expected Parent" to have to explain!

I quickly went over to the Matches and saw that siblings Cousin 1 and Cousin 2 only shared 38% of the same DNA (2,712.2 cM with 44 shared segments, the longest segment being 184.4‎ cM). Cousin 2 only shared 10.1% with Daughter (714.8‎ cM with 27 shared segments, the longest segment being 64.4 cM). Most of the best DNA matches for all three testing parties did still appear, so I became less worried about an unexpectedpParent situation (phew!).

Checking in at The Shared cM Project by I found that siblings share an average of 2629 cM, with the range going from 2209 - 3384 cM. So our siblings coming in squarely around the middle is par for the course. And, best of all, the new DNA mixture from Cousin 2 resulted in some new matches to explore!

I went back to FamilyTreeDNA to check out the "Ancient Origins" again as I had last October for the surprising find of "Western Asian" ethnicity for Daughter, to see what I could find out about "Iberia." Cousin 2's HaploGroup (defined briefly by The International Society of Genetic Genealogy as "a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the patriline or the matriline") shows that his Y Chromosome data (passed from father to son over and over) originates in approximately 16000 BCE. His HaploGroup derived from the FamilyTreeDNA test taker database consists of people descended from those of British, German, and Irish ancestry plus 83 other countries.

Ancient Origins Migration Map

Turns out that before, and to a greater extent, during the Iron Age, several cultures including those from "Western Asia" migrated to what are now known as Spain and Portugal for agricultural and mining pursuits. This migration map shows the ancestors moving from Africa to the Sinai, through Greece, to Iberia and France, and on up to the lands of the Vikings.

Daughter and Cousin 2 got some of those genes handed down in quantities to show up in a test, while Cousin 1 got none. We all got a good laugh out of the fact that Cousin 1, with no Iberian genes, speaks fluent Spanish, but Cousin 2 does not. Also amusingly, according to FamilyTreeDNA, the three cousins share a paternal ancestor with Bill Gates going back to 15,000 BCE. Guess I better keep working on that tree so they can get in on the will! we are all having fun with this dive into the Box of Chocolates of their family tree history.

complicated wood puzzle

How is your research going? What new things have you learned? I love hearing about your puzzles and especially your success stories! Drop me a line and let's talk about what's going on with your family research.

See you next week!

Leslie Ryan

Direct link to prior blog post about ethnicities and testing databases:

No compensation received for any of these links or referrals. No copyright infringement is intended!


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