Tag Archives: Y chromosome

Genealogy Adventures goes Pinterest!

I’ve ummed and ahhed about whether to go the Pinterest route…and I’m pretty glad I did.  Thanks to my sister for convincing me about the merits of this format.

I’ve written quite a bit about my DNA results (https://genealogyadventures.wordpress.com/tag/dna-tests/ ). I thought it would be kind of fun to use Pinterest to cover the same topic in a more visual way. Seeing something somehow makes things much more real for people rather than just reading about them. So I’ve created one board showing the peoples & cultures I’m connected to through my mtDNA results (the DNA I inherited from my mother) and another one for my Y DNA (the DNA I inherited from my father).

In my naiveté, I thought there would be a simple and straightforward way to add the boards to this post.  No such luck.  lol and yes, I’ve looked at the tutorials and videos. As soon as WordPress fixes this oversight/glitch, I’ll come back and add the boards as nice widgets. In the meantime, please fin d the links to the individual boards below:

What’s lurking in my Y DNA Pinterest Board: http://www.pinterest.com/genealogyadvent/y-dna-so-whats-lurking-in-my-y-dna/

What’s lurking in my mtDNA Pinterest Board: http://www.pinterest.com/genealogyadvent/mtdna-so-whats-lurking-in-my-maternal-dna/

I’ll be doing a Pinterest board on my father’s mtDNA results at some point this week 🙂

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Mapping my maternal mtDNA and paternal Y-DNA

Well, the results of my Dad’s mtDNA (his maternal mtDNA) test came through a short while ago. Needless to say, we were all quite excited. Exciting an 80+ year old man who traveled the world throughout his naval career and lived live to the full.  So I was pretty happy to give him that experience. As the only surviving child of my grandmother, my father was the last direct link to her maternal DNA.

As with all things, there were surprises. My grandmother’s maternal mtDNA has, hands down, traveled the furthest. Australia’s Aboriginal population?  Nope, we definitely didn’t see that one coming! The journey from the Horn of Africa to Australia over 50,000 or so years or so simply boggles the brain.

Nor did we have any idea of her ancient Hebrew ancestry. From Yemen to India,  to Ethiopia, North Africa and the Middle East – and Poland – my grandmother’s genetics have returned results for every major and minor Jewish populations in these regions.

The other surprise was the absolute lack of any Native American genes, at least on her mother’s side…however, I’m still searching for a direct make descendant of George Henry Roane (born 1805 and resident in Varina, Henrico County, Virginia) to take a Y DNA test. So there still could be Native American blood via her Roane ancestors. Time will eventually tell.

Truth, it turns out, is far more interesting than fiction.

I tend to make handy lists of things.  This time around, I thought I’d provide an illustration outlining my various DNA results.

So to wrap this up (until the results of my maternal grandfather’s Y DNA are in!), here’s a summary of my genetic makeup:

Arab populations (all populations): 20%

Central Asian (including Russian Siberia): 12%

Jewish (all populations): 12%

Chinese (including Tibetan & South Korean Chinese populations): 12%

North African & Northwest African (non-Arab populations): 10%

Sub-Saharan African: 8%

Austria, Poland & The Balkans: 5%

Swedish: 8%

Italian: 8%

Iberian (Spain & Portugal): 4%

Other: 1%

I can wait to start visiting some of these far-flung places! And not as a tourist, but living as part of the community for a few weeks to gain a better understanding of where my ancient ancestors came from, their cultures, customs and traditions.

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Filed under ancestry, genealogy, Genetics, Matthews/Mathis family, Race & Diversity, Roane family, Sheffey family

Y DNA Results Part 2: A DNA migration question solved

In my post DNA Results Part 1: My Y DNA has been on quite a journey https://genealogyadventures.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/dna-results-part-1-my-y-DNA-has-been-on-quite-a-journey/ there were two possible routes my 3 x great-grandfather Jacob Sheffey’s ancient ancestors took from Egypt to West Africa some 50,000+ years ago.  One route was across the Sahara. The second route was across North Africa.

Further DNA analysis has solved the question of which migration route these ancestors took.

A little thing called Subclade E1b1a1f clinched it.

My Y-Chromosome's 'family tree'

Each Haplogroup (eg BT , E1b1a & E1b1a1f) and subclade (E1b1a1f1) is a distinct sub-branch of mankind’s family tree. Each branch results from DNA mutations within the human population.

Looking at the image above, haplogroups and subclades are like different branches in a common ancestral family tree. These genetic family tree branches show how different human populations are related to one another…and how far back each branch began to share common ancestral populations.

The more branches you uncover through DNA testing finely tunes which populations you share DNA with and how close, in terms of time, you’re related to the other branches in the overall human tree…and the routes taken as these branches and sub-branches were created. It all has to do with DNA mutations and the populations which carry these mutations.  It’s what makes an E1 person an E1 and not an E2. While E1 and E2 are different, they share a common ‘ancestor’ subclade, which would be E.

So what’s so special about Subclade E1b1a1f?  It’s primarily found in modern North African populations. It arrived into North-western and Central Northern Africa tens of thousands of years ago.

So based on the latest DNA results, Jacob Sheffey’s ancient paternal African ancestors didn’t traverse the Sahara to arrive in present day Mali and Burkina Faso. His ancestors left present day Egypt along the North African coast, part of a population of ancient peoples who would form the present day Berber speaking peoples. The map below shows the distribution of these peoples, which is a perfect correlation to the refined DNA results:

Distribution of modern day Berber speaking peoples

Map showing the distribution of modern day Berber speaking peoples.

Science can be an incredible thing.

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Filed under AfAm Genealogy, ancestry, family history, genealogy, Genetics, Race & Diversity, Sheffey family

DNA Results Part 1: My Y DNA has been on quite a journey

I feel I owe American airport security a bit of an apology.  You see, I’m a liar.  I didn’t know it at the time…but I was.  Every time I fly to and from the States it’s hell.  I get pulled out the queue, grilled relentlessly by airport security and then sent on my way.  Why?  Because American airport security think I’m Arab. I fit ‘the profile’. I admit at first I had sense of humour failures where I’d state calmly but firmly that I didn’t have a drop of Arab blood and it really shouldn’t matter if I did.  Before 9/11 being ‘profiled’ as an African American by the police was bad enough. Trust me, after 9/11, being ‘profiled’ by airport security due to appearing Arab is hardcore and worse. I have, over time, gotten over it.  I just suck it up, smile politely, and then ask them to check out my father’s decades of military service.

So what was the lie?  Well, it turns out that I do indeed have Arab blood in these veins. And, um, rather a lot of it too. Who knew!?!  Well, I guess my DNA certainly did. And here’s how I found out about this and a whole lot more.

After much umming and awing over the matter, I decided to take a comprehensive DNA test courtesy of Genebase http://www.genebase.com . The first test results arrived today. This first part of the many DNA tests I’ve booked looked at my paternal Y DNA (this is the DNA passed down from fathers to sons since our species began). This first part of the DNA test specifically looked at my ancient DNA markers…looking back between 4,000 to 50,000 years ago.

A tiny bit about Y DNA

A little bit about Y Chromosones

So what did these test results tell me?

4,000 years ago the ancient ancestors of my 4 x great grand-father, Jacob Sheffey, left Ethiopia for Egypt.  But more on that migration in a bit. The Y DNA test had strong results for populations who settled in Burkina Faso and Mali. This was great information to discover, but not exactly a surprise. A cousin who also did a DNA test had these markers in his DNA results. So I was already expecting the same.

What was surprising was my initial DNA results returned matches for China, India, Greece, the Middle East and Sephardic Jews (I refer to the older definition covering the ancient Jews of North African and West Asian ancestry as opposed to the more modern definition of Jews who lived on the Iberian peninsula and were forced to leave due to the Spanish Inquisition).

What really struck me, and continues to fascinate me, is visualizing the movement of his ancestors’ migration (the male ones at this point) over a staggering swathe of time. 36,000 years is a concept that takes a wee while for me to get my head around. We’re talking a period of time which witnessed cataclysmic climate changes, environmental changes, mass extinction events, population growth, the rise and fall of civilisations, the birth of spoken language and cuneiform,  the creation of tools, art…the genesis of everything the descendants of these ancient human beings take for granted every day.

Some funny things called Haplogroups & Sub-claves

So I’ve discovered that the ancient part of my Y chromosome belongs to a group called Y-DNA Haplogroup E. It doesn’t stop there.  There are dozens of sub-classifications for this Y DNA group called sub-claves.  This is a gross oversimplification but think of Haplogroups as a species, say a cat for instance (only because I’m sitting here looking at my cat). This would separate cats from lions, tigers, pumas, etc.   A sub-clave would be like a specific breed of cat, say Persian, Mau Mau, Burmese, Siamese, etc for instance. I’ll be taking a specific DNA test this month which will tell me what precise sub-clave my paternal male ancestors belong to.

Is knowing which sub-clave I belong to important?  Probably not.  I just want to know which precise ancient population my father’s male ancestors belonged to.  As one of the 4 oldest Haplogroups, my Haplogroup E group has a staggering number of offshoots. All of the really oldest variants are African. Even my sub-clave E1b1a has an impressive number of sub groups. The video below covers the E Haplogroup.

There’s a link below for a video that’s incredibly scientific.  I struggled in some parts.  But don’t let this put you off.  I’m glad I stuck it out as I think it has some incredible information.

Learn about Y-DNA Haplogroup E
Learning Center | Paternal Ancestry (Y-DNA) | Y-DNA Haplogroups (SNPs)

From Genebase http://www.genebase.com/learning/article/2

The trip my Y chromosome has taken…

So, 4,000 years ago or so, Jacob Sheffey’s male ancestors took one of 2 major migration routes across Africa. If his ancestors migrated through North Africa (from Egypt to Libya, Algeria, Morocco  etc), his ancestors would have been part of the great Berber migration along the northern coast of Africa.  The Berbers moved from Egypt along the northern African coast reaching Morocco. They continued their migration turning southwards, along the upper and mid western African coastline.

The second route would have been the great Bantu migration from East Africa (Ethiopia) across the Sahara to the western African coast (Burkina Faso and Mali in this case).  The sub-clave test I’ll be taking this month will shed light on which one of these two migration routes his ancient ancestors took.

So where does the Greek, Chinese, Sephardic Jewish and Indian DNA markers come from?  Most likely while Jacob’s ancient ancestors were in Egypt. 4000 years ago where there were ancient, well-established trade routes between Eastern Africa, Egypt, the Indian sub-continent and China. If his ancestors were traders, it’s not unfathomable that his African ancestors would have taken wives and husbands from these populations. As the video above outlines, the DNA group to which Jacob belongs eventually migrated and settled into these regions as well as North Africa and West Africa. Later still, they migrated throughout southern and Eastern Europe.

I settled upon Genebase as a DNA testing option for a few reasons. One of the reasons is its extensive DNA database.  Once tested, DNA is matched against other DNA samples in its database and it finds genetic matches – matches that are close as well as distant. Through this first part of the test, I’ve been put in touch with people who share a genetic match with me in the US, Egypt, China, Saudi Arabia and Greece.

The degrees of relation vary wildly and depend on the number of genes shared.  For instance, there is a Mr Green in the USA with whom I share an ancestor as recently as 6 generations ago based on DNA results. He and I only differ in 1 gene in our Y Chromosomes. On the other side of the coin is Mr al Abrahim in Egypt. The test indicates we last shared a common ancestor around 66 generations ago…that’s approximately 1,650 years.  Or Mr Suarez in Brazil…he and I last shared a common ancestor 85 generations ago… approximately 2,125 years in the past.

Among the 143 Y DNA matches so far, there were American surnames which came as no surprise: Bagby, Green , Carpenter, Hill and Richardson.  In short, the first round of results has already underscored what the family research has brought to light about extended Sheffey family relations.

I now know which African tribes share my Y DNA!

What I wasn’t expecting – and came as a hugely pleasant surprise – was my Y DNA matching to various modern day peoples and tribes. I wasn’t expecting such information and didn’t realize it was even possible to drill DNA results down to this level. To say this information is kind of priceless is like saying that China and India are kind of populated. It takes a lot to blow my mind.  This information did it…in the best of all possible ways.

Focusing on Africa, in genetic terms, below is a list of tribes which share a large part of my African paternal Y- DNA (from highest match [more than 90% shared] to lowest match [more than 45% shared]:

Tribe – Country

Kassena – Burkina Faso, Africa

Bissa – Burkina Faso, Africa

Bisa – Zambia, Africa

Galoa – Gabon, Africa

Fwe – Zambia, Africa

Ateke – Gabon, Africa

Kunda – Zambia, Africa

Umbundu – Angola, Africa

Luyana – Zambia, Africa

Makina – Gabon, Africa

Kota – Gabon, Africa

Bantu speakers – Angola, Africa

Ndumu – Gabon, Africa

South Samo – Burkina Faso, Africa

Benga – Gabon, Africa

Tonga – Zambia, Africa

Marka – Burkina Faso, Africa

Akele – Gabon, Africa

Tsogo – Gabon, Africa

The upshot is now the next time I get grilled by American airport security, I can embrace my Arab-ness and kindly tell them that yes, millennia ago, I did indeed have ethnic Arab ancestors. And yes, there are unknown Muslim North African ancestors in the family tree…before smiling patiently and turning the conversation to my father’s decades of military service. Even better, thanks to genealogy and a dry sense of humour, I can chat to them about Sheffey family congressmen, Revolutionary War heroes, War of 1812 heroes, Civil War heroes and the like as I’m stepping out of my shoes, lifting my shirt up (in front of everyone else in the line) and answering a barrage of questions with a quiet but palpable indignation.

And I will have quite the in-flight reading list as I read up on a number of the African tribes listed above.

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Filed under AfAm Genealogy, ancestry, family history, Genetics, Race & Diversity, Sheffey family