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Anthrogenealogy? Anthropogenealogy?
Biogenealogy? ¿What the ...?
Barbara English West

 
 
Two Scientific Methods Combined
  ..."By utilizing Molecular Biology to observe the genetic data trail of a lineage you are now able to connect unknown family members by employment and comparison of specific locations on the Non-Recombining Y or mtDNA we inherited from our fathers and mothers" [Family Tree DNA]  
     
 
Lets back up some...
 
     
OK...What is Genealogy?
  Genealogy is a personal history that contains a record of one's ancestors, a study of a family pedigree. Genealogies are commonly documented in the form of a pedigree chart or a family tree using data found through traditional methods of family research based in historic, public and family records. Sometimes oral histories are available to aid in the creation of an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor.  
     
We All Have Common Ancestors
Every one of us has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. The number of ancestors doubles with each generation. So what does this mean? Going back 30 generations (approx. 750 years ago), every person alive today will have over a billion possible ancestors. However, the world population for the year 1250 AD is estimated at only 400 million.

Why the difference in possible ancestors and the estimated world population? At some point in the past our ancestors came together and we all share common ancestors. This means that the number of actual ancestors is much smaller than the number of possible ancestors. What this means is that every person alive today are related in varying degrees.

     
DNA and Genealogy
  Molecular genealogy is a new field that is employed as a method of research used to enhance traditional genealogical methods, using DNA in association with written records. DNA is transmitted from one generation to the next and some parts are passed almost unchanged, creating a strong link between generations. DNA testing used as a research tool can be of great help in reconstructing personal family histories.

All of genetic material is inherited from ancestors, and very distantly related individuals share portions of this information. And, the closer the relative, the greater the amount of shared genetic information. So even though the entire DNA sequence of an individual is unique only to that individual, very similar genetic information is found among those that descend from a common ancestor.

We now have bio-genealogy, DNA testing, as a research tool which, when used along with traditional genealogy methods, can help establish family links among individuals, families, tribes and populations by using the information encoded in our genetic material. Genetics can help move family research forward because families have very similar DNA

DNA contains over one-billion bits of information, but only specific regions are useful in deciphering family relationships.

 
     
DNA = The Physical Carrier of Inheritance
  Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is a genome, one haploid set of chromosomes with the genes they contain, which holds the genetic material of an organism. Human DNA holds a complete genetic blueprint of a person containing all of the genetic information necessary for life and acts like a repository of hereditary traits.

DNA is found mainly in the nucleus of cells in structures known as chromosomes and all living humans have a total of 46: 23 chromosomes passed along from the father and 23 chromosomes passed along from the mother. All of these chromosomes are called autosomes except for one pair-- Y and X -- which determine gender.

In addition to nuclear DNA, there is also genetic material in cellular organelles, or mitochondria (mtDNA), that are found outside the nucleus. These energy-producing organelles found in the cytoplasm of the cell, along with genetic components, contain all of the necessary information for the foundation of life.

 
     
Maternal Ancestry via mtDNA and Paternal Ancestry via Y-DNA
  Tests are available for maternal or paternal ancestry, each using different areas of our human DNA. Our human DNA contains over a billion bits of information, but only specific regions are useful in deciphering family relationships.

A person's DNA can be traced through the mother's mitochondria DNA. Both men and women have this mtDNA, but only women pass it along to their children. This method traces a female through her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and so forth.

Tracing ancestry through paternal DNA is most common, paternal ancestry can be traced using the DNA of the Y-chromosome (Y-DNA or Ycs). Only men have the Y-chromosome, and this method traces a male through his father, grandfather, great-grandfather and so on.

"By utilizing Molecular Biology to observe the genetic data trail of a lineage you are now able to connect unknown family members by employment and comparison of specific locations on the Non-Recombining Y or mtDNA we inherited from our fathers and mothers." [FTDNA]

 
     
Biogenealogy/ Bio-genealogy? Anthrogenealogy? Anthropogenealogy?
  Simply put, Biogenealogy uses specific human DNA markers to designate relationships. Anthrogenealogy and Anthropogenealogy are other terms that have been coined to describe the combining of biological and anthropological methods to determine heritage. In the academic setting scientists were applying DNA sampling to anthropological studies and thus this combining of sciences brought about the need for a term. You won't find these words in today's dictionary (November 2004), but they will make their way into future volumes without a doubt.

Anthrogenealogy can assist family historians by showing the path of a lineage to connect unknown family members by comparing specific regions of the DNA we inherited from our fathers and mothers. Using a combination of traditional methodology and genetic science applied to genealogical studies can be viewed as an asset to our own understanding of who we are.

 
  Barbara West - 17 November 2004  
     
     
 
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Page created: 15 Nov 2004 / updated: 12 Nov 2010
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