Sunday, October 13, 2013

Matrilineal Monday/You, Me and DNA

    I've been wary of this ever since I started down my matrilineal Cowan-Hunter path...Scots Irish!  It looks like I have Scots-Irish ancestors!  I certainly mean no disrespect to persons of this background, but the S-I's were part of the Plantation of Ulster; England's evil plan to suppress the native population of Ireland. Namely my beloved McGarrs and O'Horas and Ryans and O'Dwyers, so you can understand my conflicted feelings.  This will take a little getting used to, though I did finally come to love my English ancestors too. (But I still think they should have been nicer to my Irish ancestors)
      I guess I really shouldn't be too surprised at this development, scientists studying human genetics estimate that if you go back say 5,000 to 10,000 years, we all share a common ancestor.  Below is the best explanation of our female ancestor and mitochondrial DNA that I've come across.  By that I mean, it's simple enough for even me to understand.  My apologies to whoever wrote it, I would give you credit for your article, but I neglected to record your name when I cut and pasted it into my notes last year:
"One of the misconceptions of mitochondrial Eve is that since all women alive today descended in a direct unbroken female line from her, that she was the only woman alive at the time.  Nuclear DNA studies indicate that the size of the ancient human population never dropped below tens of thousands. There may have been many other women alive at Eve's time with descendants alive today, but sometime in the past, those lines of descent included at least one male, who do not pass on their mother's mitochondrial DNA, thereby breaking the line of descent.  By contrast, Eve's lines of descent to each person alive today include precisely one purely matrilineal line."

     Now that's some food for thought, huh? In the final analysis we are each of us, one line on one humongous family group sheet.  (Please take note world leaders.) Our nationality depends more or less on where our ancient ancestors finally decided to put down roots.  Seen in that light, welcome to my tree Cowan and Hunter ancestors, but behave yourselves!

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