Everard Cunion’s Genographic results (edited) in November 2019
The origin of our species lies in Africa: It is where humans first evolved, and where our species has spent the majority of its time on Earth. We have since migrated to every corner of the globe, a journey that is written in our DNA.
This page outlines the results – so far – of my participation in the Genographic project, starting in 2015.
Introduction to my Genographic results
Genographic ran a comprehensive analysis of a DNA sample that I sent them to identify thousands of genetic markers—breadcrumbs—in my DNA, which are passed down from generation to generation.
Genographic takes up the story, with a few additions by me…
By looking at the order in which these markers occurred over time, we can follow the breadcrumbs and trace the journey of Everard’s ancestors across the globe. Furthermore, with these markers, we have created a human family tree. Everyone alive today falls on a particular branch of this tree. We have examined Everard’s markers to determine which branch he belongs to. The results of our analysis—his personal journey—are outlined here.
Everard’s Genographic results are presented in reverse chronological order, starting with his regional ancestry, and moving back in time to his personal genetic link to our ancient hominin cousins.
Regional ancestry (500 years – 10,000 years ago)
Everard’s percentages reflect both recent influences and ancient genetic patterns in his DNA due to migrations as groups from different regions mixed over thousands of years. Everard’s ancestors also mixed with ancient, now extinct hominid cousins like Neanderthals in Europe and the Middle East and the Denisovans in Asia. (See farther on.)
These numbers represent the rough bio-geographical breakdown of DNA that Everard shares with people across a number of regions around the world.
- Northern European 41%
- Mediterranean 40%
- Southwest Asian 18%
Based on their different destinations, humans migrating out of Africa developed regional affiliations over time. These affiliations are present as patterns of DNA and are visible today in the variety of physical traits humans possess. Scientists have identified typical individuals, genetically speaking, from different parts of the globe and defined them as “reference populations.” Genographic participants are assigned to the two reference population they most resemble genetically. The significant mixing of peoples over time, however, means that a reference population may only provide the best estimate of an individual’s closest match.
- Everard’s first reference population: Greek
- Everard’s second reference population: German
For more detail, see Regional ancestry (500 years – 10,000 years ago).
Deep ancestry (1,000 years – 100,000 years ago)
Everard’s deep ancestry tells you what maternal and paternal branches of the human family tree he belongs to, also known as Everard’s haplogroup. Each haplogroup has a name expressed with letters and numbers – like Q2, J1c, R1b1a, R-M222, and so forth. Our current scientific understanding allows us to identify both parental haplogroups for men (maternal and paternal) and one for women (maternal).
Modern humans started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. They traveled in groups, taking different paths and arriving at different destinations. These journeys can be traced through DNA “markers” that form the human genetic tree. Based on these personal markers, each person alive today can be assigned to a specific haplogroup, which identifies their branch on the tree.
What is a marker? Each of us carries DNA that is a combination of genes passed from both our mother and father, giving us traits that range from eye color and height to athleticism and disease susceptibility. As part of this process, the Y-chromosome is passed directly from father to son, unchanged, from generation to generation down a purely male line. Mitochondrial DNA, on the other hand, is passed from mothers to their children, but only their daughters pass it on to the next generation. It traces a purely maternal line.
Hey, hey, hey, hey, it was the DNA
Hey, hey, hey, hey, that made me this way
— from the lyrics of Sheer Heart Attack by Queen, 1977
The DNA is passed on unchanged, unless a mutation—a random, naturally occurring, usually harmless change—occurs. The mutation, known as a marker, acts as a beacon; it can be mapped through generations because it will be passed down for thousands of years.
When geneticists identify such a marker, they try to figure out when it first occurred, and in which geographic region of the world. Each marker is essentially the beginning of a new lineage on the family tree of the human race. Tracking the lineages provides a picture of how small tribes of modern humans in Africa tens of thousands of years ago diversified and spread to populate the world.
By looking at the markers he carries, we can trace Everard’s lineage, ancestor by ancestor, to reveal the path they traveled as they moved out of Africa. Our story begins with his earliest ancestor. Who were they, where did they live, and what is their story?
There are two ‘stories’ here; maternal and paternal. Each is illustrated by migration geographic maps, DNA heat maps, and photographs taken in the regions concerned.
Everard’s maternal haplogroup line H1C8 is shared by less than 0.1% of all participants in the project. Strikingly, this lineage is about 5 percent of maternal lineages in Lebanon, and makes up around 7 percent of the population of Moldova. Research on this branch is continuing.
Everard’s paternal haplogroup line I-CTS616 is shared by 0.7% of all participants in the project. This lineage is distributed across Central and Eastern Europe, with a peak in Scandinavia. That results from the recolonization of northern Europe at the end of last ice age, probably helped by expansions from southeastern Europe during the Neolithic Revolution.
Note by Everard: Because each story is so long and involved, I have placed them in their own separate pages:
Hominin ancestry (50,000 years ago and older)
Everard’s hominin ancestry is a breakdown of the amount of DNA he carries from the human-like Neanderthals and Denisovans. Scientists have found that even though these ancient species have long been extinct, they coexisted alongside humans for more than 100,000 years, and some of their DNA remains with us today.
Everard has 2.1% Neanderthal DNA. (That is also the average.)
Everard has 2.8% Denisovan DNA. (The average is 2.1%)
As our modern human ancestors migrated through Eurasia, they met other hominin species and interbred. These “cousin” species, like the Neanderthals, are now extinct, but the genetic makeup of nearly everyone born outside of Africa today includes 1 to 2 percent DNA from these hominins, living relics of ancient ‘encounters.’
For detail, see Hominin ancestry (50,000 years ago and older).
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National Geographic Genographic Project