Some two hundred years ago Charles Darwin came out with a theory stating that all humans share a common ancestor. Darwin’s great-great paternal grandson has consented to a Y-chromosome DNA test to confirm or exclude the possibility of this common root. The initiative is part of an extensive ancestry DNA testing project that has linked Darwin to his ancient, ancient ancestors.
Charles Darwin, who wrote extensively about human evolution in his book On the Origin of Species, claimed that the common ancestors left Africa around 45,000 years back and moved to other parts of the globe. These ancestors are likely to have been amongst the first to leave the African continent, move to the Middle East and gradually towards Western Europe to avoid an ice age.
National Geographic and computer giant IBM has taken the initiative to investigate the matter. They tested over 300,000 people and amongst these was Charles Darwin’s great-great grandson, Chris Darwin. The test in this case has a very wide scope and will involve testing tens of thousands more people to ultimately determine the history of migration of possibly the entire human species.
The DNA test involved taking just a simple mouth swab from Chris Darwin’s cheek to see whether he had the haplogroup R1b which his great-great grandfather had. This group is amongst the most common male lineages in Europe. The Cro-Magnon people are the ancestors of the haplogroup R1b, the group to which Darwin and his ancestors belonged to. The geogenetic information that experts have been able to derive from people’s genes is overwhelming. In his days, Darwin could prove nothing of what he said; he could not find concrete evidence without the genetic testing knowledge we have today. Mutations in genes are crucial in mapping ancestry. As people migrated to different climates and under different environmental conditions, their genes would likely have mutated to adapt to those changes. Thus, mutations in genes help us locate migration patterns.
The Y-chromosome is strictly handed down through the male line. Males always have a pair of XY chromosomes; the Y inherited from the father and the X inherited from the mother. Females do not have Y-chromosomes. Females have a pair of XX chromosomes. The Y chromosome, which encodes maleness, has a number of advantages especially given the fact that from generation to generation it is rarely affected by mutations. Y-chromosome testing can be used to determine whether one or more males share the same paternal line with accuracy. If they share the same Y-chromosome they also descend from the same line.
Our ancestry is something many of us would like to know about: who are we and where did we come from? Luckily DNA testing can provide answers.
Our ancestral roots can be found by means of an ancestry DNA test. The test can be done with a simple DNA test using a saliva sample (which will collect cheek cells) and using this many DNA testing companies can tell you a lot about the anthropological regions your ancestors came from and your geogenetic heritage.
Intensive genealogical research by genealogists will require more in depth DNA tests, such as carrying our very specific relationship DNA tests. These might include the Y-chromosome tests, such as the one done by Darwin’s great-great grandson, to determine whether there is a shared paternal lineage or an MtDNA test (mitochondrial DNA test) which can establish whether male and/or female individuals share a common maternal line.