Have you ever wondered where you came from? I don’t mean in your recent past, I mean the route your ancestors walked as they left Africa – if they ever left Africa – tens of thousands of years ago. How thrilling and eyeopening would it be to see an actual map of the footsteps taken by your forefathers – possibly across the expanse of the globe? Well, I’m going to see mine and I’m telling you about it because you might want to do the same thing.
Lead by researcher Spencer Wells, the Genographic Project is a collaboration between National Geographic researchers, renowned international scientists, and IBM technology. By analyzing participants’ DNA, they are able to locate where that DNA has been since the “first human” who lived some 60,000 years ago in Africa. The first human is believed to be “the single Aftrican ancestor” from whom all humans developed. All humans since that time have left genetic markers along their migration routes and these markers enable researchers to produce the maps.
So how do you participate? Well, for $100 you can buy a DNA collecting kit from National Geographic (here) which is specifically for this project. Inside there are two swabbing kits (think CSI), instructions, and a mail-back envelope. You take two swabs, 8 hours apart, of the insides of your cheeks, plop them into the tubes and mail them back to the project. I just did my first swabbing this morning. So I’ll do another tonight…and then off it goes.
If you’re worried about sending off your DNA, don’t be. The test is totally anonymous. You just have to hold on to the ID number they provide you with so that you can check your results online. Also, they are only using the DNA for this specific study and not to look at genetic health problems or anything of the sort. The only draw back is for women…sorry gals…we have only an X chromosome so we can’t do our paternal ancestry. You can ask your brother or your father to do one to complete both sides of the family. Also, please note that this study does not get as specific as names.
So after I send in my DNA, I’ll keep checking for my map. When I get it I’ll post it here for all to see. I’m so curious to see the results. If you try it, let me know how it turns out for you! If you’d like to read further about the project try these links: