A Snelson DataBase & Armory

Your Real Ancestors

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Your Real Ancestors

If you are interested in your ancestry, you will know that there is no such thing as “race”. We are all related to each other. We are all descended from common ancestors. We have all come out of Africa, and then a bit earlier the Big Bang ... and before that the Inflation ... and that's just our Universe. We are not alone.

Genetically, there is no difference between Australian Aborigines, Anglo-Saxons, Arabs, Zalmoxianists, Zoroastrianists and Zulus, strange as that may seem. We are all descended from the same ancestors. We are “racially” the same. Skin colour, eyes, lips, height, brains, noses, hair - they may look like they are different … but underneath, we are the same.

100,000 years ago, we were all African. The only place to find Homo sapiens was in Africa.

There was inter-breeding with Neanderthals too, but you and I are unlikely to be descended from Neanderthals. It is true, that it is very, very probable that you have identifiable DNA, maybe 2% or more that you share with homo neanderthalenis, because you have common ancestors. Are some of us descended from Neanderthals, possibly, because there was inter breeding – but have those lines survived, I guess we will never know.

Look at it this way, you share common DNA with your cousin – but you are not descended from your cousin. You are not descended from your sister, your great aunt, your 4th cousin or your uncle Gerry – even though you share much more DNA with them than with any neandethal that ever walked this planet.

However, it looks like we modern humans (Homo sapiens), neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and the denisovans (Homo denisova) of East Asia are related – that is, we are all descended from Homo heidelbergensis. Another possibility is that the common ancestor is the contender found in the Iberian Peninsular, being Homo antecessor.

Homo floresiensis is an extinct species of small humans that inhabited the island of Flores in Indonesia, until the arrival of modern humans about 50,000 years ago. These findings are highly controversial today because there are very few samples, maybe nine individuals who stood about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) in height. The Homo floresiensis skeletal material is now dated from 60,000 to 100,000 years ago; stone tools recovered alongside the skeletal remains are from 50,000 to 190,000 years ago.

If we select two Africans at random and compare them to two randomly selected people of mainly European descent, then from a DNA perspective, there will be more similarity between each African and either European than we would find between the two Africans.

Not everyone who lived a thousand years ago has descendants today. Relatives yes, descendants no. I have used 30 years as the length of a generation, but it was closer to 20 years in earlier times when humans mated younger and life expectancies were shorter.

If your background is continental European, then you are indeed descended from :-

  • Charlemagne the Great; and
  • Alexander the Great

If your background is basically British, then you are indeed descended from :-

  • Alfred the Great
  • Edward III; and
  • William the Conqueror

I used to have Richard II in this list, but he had no children that we know of, was perhaps too busy fighting and watching his back, and may not even have been interested in heterosexual activity, but he will be a relative for sure … and before you ask, you are surely also related to Richard III, Leicester’s longest-offending, resident, Plantagenet, parking personality.

How do we know this ? Well, if you go back in generations, doubling the number of ancestors at every say 30 years or so, then going back 1200 years to 800 AD (CE) would take say 40 generations. Work it out, if you go back 40 generations, you have over two trillion ancestors! There were not that many people on the planet 1200 years ago. One G-G ancestor say 30 generations ago is also likely to be an Uncle of a different generation. As we are now aware of the dangers of interbreeding and because there is more choice, better education, greater mobility of peoples there is less repetition nowadays than there was more than 10 generations ago, say 300 years in about 1700 AD (CE).

This is the difficult notion of implex, being the genealogical coefficient of a given genealogical tree; defined as the difference between the number of theoretical ancestors of a person and the number of his/her real ones in a given generation.

Put another way, if you postulate that 1000 years was 30 generations ago then your theoretical number of ancestors is two to the 30th, or just over a billion: 1,073,741,824. This is impossible as nowhere near that many people were alive back then.

As for religion, 99% Plus of all mankind has adopted the religion of their parents, well at least in the beginning. Science has over the last 500 years had an increasing impact on thinking people. There is no proof for any of the religious beliefs in scientific terms. Did the people cited actually exist – definitely for a few, probably in some cases, possibly in others … and absolutely not for the whackos – you know who they are. It is very likely that if you have a religion, it is an accident of your birth. If you have changed religion or started your own, then that is unusual – and best of luck with that one.

Me … I was brought up as a Protestant … but that was abandoned a long time ago and today I just believe in the science. I don’t care for any religion or churches particularly, and I certainly regard some activities as less than wholesome (you know what I mean). Some of my best friends are men and women of the cloth, devout Muslims, Hindus, Jews and even Roman Catholics. I am not an atheist nor an agnostic – if anything, I think I am sort of a humanist.

Now, onto some DNA details. The term "haplogroup" refers to a family of lineages that share a common ancestor and, therefore, a particular set of mutations. Each paternal haplogroup is named with a letter indicating the major cluster of branches to which it belongs, followed by the name of a mutation that is shared by a subset of the major cluster. Haplogroups are determined according to which branches of the Y-chromosome tree correspond to your DNA. As more closely related lineages tend to share geographic roots, the haplogroup can provide insight into the origins of some of ancient ancestors.

As for the tests and Neanderthal blood, I only have 262 Neanderthal Variants – less that 68% of most other people. The highest that has been recorded I believe is a match of 397 Neanderthal Variants. I am quite disappointed by that lower score (😉}.

My maternal haplogroup is Group V. My known ancestors have 91% British and Irish blood and the remaining 9% are French and German. Less than 10% of 23andme customers are in maternal haplogroup V. However,

Haplogroup V derives from the HV0a subclade of haplogroup HV. Recent estimates of the date of V would place it in the Neolithic.

Haplogroup V is a relatively rare mtDNA haplogroup, occurring in around 4% of native Europeans and would have arisen in the Late Glacial period, some time between 16,000 and 12,000 years ago. Its highest concentration is among the Lappland Saami peoples of northern Scandinavia and it has been found at a frequency of approximately 10% among the Maris of the Volga-Ural region, leading to the suggestion that this region might be the source of the V among the Saami. Additionally, haplogroup V has been observed at higher than average levels among Cantabrian people of northern Spain and the Basque peoples. Membership of Haplogroup V includes Benjamin Franklin which is just great - and Bono.

Paternally, I am of course in Haplogroup A descending through haplogroup F-M89 (76,000 years ago) to K-M9 (53,000 years ago) to R-M207 (35,000 years ago), then from more than 35,000 in haplogroup R-M343 (some 27,000 years ago and on say 400+ generations to R-M269 (10,000-27,000 years ago) and then in the the last 10,000 years in R-CTS241. If you are into haplogroups I guess you will understand all that better than I do.

Less than 5% of the 23andme customers share the R-CTS241 assignment. Further back in time, over 80% of men in Ireland and Wales carry the haplogroup R-M269, as do over 60% of men along the Atlantic Coast from Spain to France. The frequency of R-M269 gradually decreases to the east, falling to about 30% in Germany, 20% in Poland, and 10-15% in Greece and Turkey. The haplogroup connects all these men to still others in the Iranian Plateau and Central Asia, where between 5 and 10% of men also bear the lineage.

Do I believe in God ? It depends on how that word is defined. I certainly don’t believe in a caring, loving and intervening deity, I believe truth, facts, in the science. If “God” is facts, evolution, natural selection, DNA, men on the moon, Einstein’s E=mc2, particle theory, quantum mechanics, Newton’s F = G m1 x m2 / r2 … and that there is no such thing as “race”, then yes, I do.