Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Magic of Genes

Joining 23&me at the age of 18 opened my mind to A LOT, not just about genealogy, ancestry, genes and everything in between but it allowed me to take part and become a member of a community with genealogy buffs like myself. Logging on and seeing how some people have reached ancestors born in the 16th century pushed me to want to get to that level! I chatted with one very friendly and well informed cousin on the website who taught me some of the ropes of what all this meant and more. I was able to find out things like my Maternal and Paternal Haplogroups, my 'ancestry painting' and 'connect' to, at this most currently over 550, relatives. This relative introduced me to FamilySearch, a website which actually contains records before 1910 for Puerto Rico. How ecstatic and ready I was to start searching for records! Though at first I was a bit hesitant because it required me to search documents one by one (luckily some have indexes), I bit the bullet and started searching for ancestors and boy have I found a ton!!

Going back to my 23andme results, I got back some interesting information. My paternal haplogroup, which is passed down through the Y chromosome along the males in the family (son, father, grandfather, etc.) came back as I2a1*. Haplogroup I is surprisingly most common amongst Southern Europeans such as Balkans and Sardinians with 40% of Sardinian men belonging to this group. Yet my specific branch/subgroup (I2a1*) is "believed it originate high in the Pyrenees, the string of mountains that separates Spain from France. About 12,000 years ago, as temperatures warmed and glaciers retreated, men bearing I2a1 expanded into Spain, France, and nearby Mediterranean Islands." (23andme website). So this would mean that centuries ago, one of my paternal ancestors came from around that area of Europe. Pictured below is the screen shot for members of the I2a1* haplogroup and its concentration around Europe.

I2a1* Paternal Haplogroup passed down only to men
My maternal haplogroup, which is passed down from mothers to both sons and daughters, was very interesting. It came back as C1b4, which arrived from Asia into the Americas and is most common amongst Native Americans. Wanting to learn more I began to research this haplogroup and found that it was one of the common Haplogroups among the TaĆ­no people of Puerto Rico!! This would mean that centuries ago a woman along my maternal line was most likely a native from either Puerto Rico or a nearby island. Due to the fact that many Spaniards arrived without woman on their conquest for new lands, they reproduced with the natives and/or slaves giving people such as myself these Haplogroups. Pictured below is the screen shot for members of the C1b4 haplogroup and its concentration around Asia as well as the Americas.

C1b4, Maternal Haplogroup passed down by mothers
All this information was fascinating, something I had seen on a TV show actually was real and capable for the average person to buy, use and understand! My ancestry painting, which has changed a bit from when I first tested, shows that I am (approximating of course): 75% European, 15% African, and 9% Asian. (As you saw from my results, Asian doesn't necessarily mean one my grandparents was Chinese, Indian, etc but can also be natives who carry those genes from their ancestors from the Asian continent and moved into the Americas.

My genealogical search was taking a new technological turn and with FamilySearch records in my hand, my branches on my tree were going to stretch a bit farther into the past!

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