DNA trail may reveal quite a crowd of kinfolk - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

DNA trail may reveal quite a crowd of kinfolk

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Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 4:22 pm | Updated: 7:24 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Some time ago in Africa — maybe 180,000 years or so although estimates vary widely — there was an Eve, the first of her kind to cross from hominid to human. And, of course, there had to be an Adam. After all, there are 6.4 billion of us today.

National Geographic and IBM have set out to chart how we got from there to where we are today, mankind's migration out of Africa. Researchers plan to take DNA samples from 100,000 indigenous peoples, populations peculiar to a specific region. The clock may be ticking on this, because with mobility and intermarriage, “indigenous” ain't what it used to be.

Scientists may be able to link indigenous peoples with specific migrations out of Africa, with broad implications for genetics, anthropology and history. They may be able to definitively answer the question of where the original populations of Australia and the Americas originated.

Happily, this is not restricted solely to indigenous peoples. Anybody can play. For $99.95 you buy a Participation Kit, swab some gunk off from the inside of your cheek and mail it off to National Geographic for a DNA analysis.

We don't want to jump the gun on National Geographic, but the reply has the potential to be one of those “good news, bad news” deals. The good news: You have millions of relatives with a common ancestor. The bad news: They're waiting to hear from you.

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