What is the Genographic Project?

NeanderthalHave you heard of the Genographic Project? It is an interesting opportunity for genealogists. The full name is The Geneographic Project 2.0. (and it is currently in beta). It won’t help you find the wedding certificate of your great uncle Fred. Instead, it can give you a much wider view of your family history.

Those who wish to participate in the Genographic Project need to purchase the Geno 2.0 test. It is a direct-to-consumer DNA testing kit. You provide a sample of your DNA, and the results will reveal information that other DNA kits cannot quite match. (It is also possible to purchase the Geno 2.0 test and choose not to be part of the Genographic Project.)

What will you learn? Geno 2.0 will run a comprehensive analysis to identify more than 3,000 genetic markers on your mitochondrial DNA. It is something that is passed down from one generation to the next from a mother to a child. The results will show your deep maternal ancestry. For men, the test can examine more than 10,000 markers on the Y chromosome, which is passed down from father to son. This will reveal your deep paternal ancestry.

Everyone who purchases the Geno 2.0 kit will have an analysis done of a collection of more than 130,000 other markers from across your entire genome. This will reveal the regional affiliations of your ancestry. It can offer insights into ancestors who are not in your direct maternal or direct paternal line. This analysis can be done for both male and female participants.

It also offers information that no other DNA test kit can. Recently, scientists have discovered a split in the human lineage that happened around 500,000 years ago. Neanderthals are one branch, and Denisovans are another. Both existed in Eurasia at a time when modern humans were migrating out of Africa. You can learn how much of your DNA is Neanderthal or Denisovan.

If you like, you can register for the Genographic online community. This will allow you to connect with other people who are participating in the Genographic Project. You can find shared ancestry, and might be able to fill in gaps between what you have already learned about your genealogy and the new information that came from your genetic results.

The Genographic Project is not a genealogical study. It isn’t going to offer you the type of information that websites like Ancestry.com can, for example. Instead, adding your data will help scientists learn more about the anthropology of your ancestors. It also gives you insights into the past 6 generations of your ancestors and their origins.

Image by Erich Ferdinand on Flickr.

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