Fall festivals are in full swing, as anyone who lives in the Bay Area knows. The Oaktoberfest – even with attendance in the thousands – was just one small part. Speaking of which, that was one awesome event as we Native Californian’s say. Meeting up with my son, Beau, his wife, Christina and their three children made it even better. I think my favorite part was when the Bavarian Folk Dancers did a “three-way”. It taught a valuable lesson to my Grandson about the importance of picking just one gal (you later fall on your ass if not). Another dance of theirs, where men drink and thrown around Bier Garten furniture, ends on a handshake. Of course, that’s after a terrific slap fest! What fun. Those cooky Europeans really do have a sense of humor. So, my idea of Germans being humorless has got to go I guess.
Speaking of heritage, I decided to participate in one of the greatest (social?) experiments of our time – the DNA project being run by 23AndMe. The project was launched by some Google executives, and yes, they are the same ones who made the news for opening the possibility of finding a perfect gene match and creating an uber-baby. More on that later). Their stated mission is “to be the world’s trusted source of personal genetic information.” They suck in a lot of scientific types, and those just curious about our ancestry, by asserting they give their customers “the opportunity to leverage their data by contributing it to studies of genetics. With enough data, we believe 23andWe can produce revolutionary findings that will benefit us all.”
At any rate, I sent off a vile of my spit. It was then sent away in a lab envelope with all the proper seals and security to a laboratory in Southern California. They analyze it for Ancestry, and health, letting you know if you are at a higher risk for certain diseases (I am not, thankfully).
Here’s what else I learned: I am white. A really white mutt. I’m 5.8% Scandinavian*, which was news to me. Always thought I was composed mostly with that humorless German DNA! I also get .2% of my DNA from East Asia and .1% is Native American (Choctaw).
Of course, one of the funniest parts of this grand experiment (or most embarrassing on how you look at it) is the ability to let you know how much comes from Neanderthals. That’s right, the ones we thought were “sub humans” had our babies, so we still have true “knuckle draggers” amongst us. My percentage is 2.9%, which is higher than the average of 2.7%.
Well, that’s it for now. I have one 2nd cousin, 109 4th cousins, and 109 distant cousins to connect with online! Perhaps one will be living in a castle in Europe and invite me for a stay. I just hope it’s one of the top floors, though knowing me, I’d have a lot more fun downstairs!
*From the site: Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 22 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago, before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.
Genetic Evidence for Neanderthals
From bones like these three (Vi33.16, Vi33.25, Vi33.26) found in the Vindija cave in Croatia, scientists extracted Neanderthal DNA. Using these samples they painstakingly assembled the Neanderthal genome sequence.
More about Neanderthals
Neanderthals were a group of humans who lived in Europe and Western Asia. They are the closest evolutionary relatives of modern humans, but they went extinct about 30,000 years ago. The first Neanderthals arrived in Europe as early as 600,000 to 350,000 years ago. Neanderthals — Homo neanderthalensis — and modern humans — Homo sapiens — lived along side each other for thousands of years. Genetic evidence suggest that they interbred and although Neanderthals disappeared about 30,000 years ago, traces of their DNA — between 1 percent and 4 percent — are found in all modern humans outside of Africa. Apart from the curiosity of finding what percentage of a modern human’s genome is Neanderthal, the information has great value for science. By comparing our DNA with Neanderthal DNA, scientists can detect the most recent evolutionary changes as we developed into fully modern humans.
Photo Credit: Miss Magnolia Thunderpussy