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Family Tree DNA Discovers Y-DNA Signature That Might Represent the Prophet Mohammed

DNA An article in the United Arab Emirate newspaper The National (wikipedia) does a terrific job of highlighting recent research from Family Tree DNA.  The story – “DNA could illuminate Islam’s lineage” – discusses research that has attempted to elucidate the Y-DNA signature of Mohammed.  Although Mohammed did not have a son, he had a daughter who married her paternal second cousin, thus passing to Mohammed’s grandchildren the same Y-DNA.  From the article:

“For almost 1,600 years, the title Sharif, Sayyed, or Habib has been bestowed on Muslims who have been able to trace their roots back to the Prophet Mohammed through intricate family trees, oral histories and genealogical records. But now an American DNA lab says it may have identified the DNA signature of descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, and perhaps the prospect of a direct, more accurate means of confirming or identifying such a connection.”

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TGG Ranked as #9 on ProGenealogists’ List of Top 25 Genealogy Blogs

This has been a great week for The Genetic Genealogist, and I just wanted to send out my gratitude.

First, TGG was included by Chris Dunham of The Genealogue in his list “10 Genealogy Blogs Worth Reading” at Blogs.com!  I’m truly honored to be listed among the other great bloggers in the article.  (Like Chris, I was recently asked to create a Top 10 list which I believe will be posted soon, but my list focuses more on genetic genealogy and personal genomics blogs).

imageAnd second, TGG was listed as #9 on the ProGenealogists list of The Top 25 Genealogy Blogs of 2009!  The rankings were based on “overall content, Technorati rating, and industry experience.”  It is an honor to be included among this group of incredible bloggers.  Be sure to visit the website to check out the other blogs on the list.

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Visualizing Your Genetic Genealogy

In my genealogical research, I have sometimes found myself missing the trees by focusing on the forest.  I think it happens to many genealogists – we get caught up in the research, the dates, the places, and we forget that there was so much more to people than their vital statistics.

This can happen to genetic genealogists as well.  The connection between the results of a DNA test and the individuals in our tree can be easy to forget and difficult to visualize.  Take the results of an mtDNA test, for example.  The results are obtained from a tiny piece of DNA that has traveled thousands of years (and often thousands of miles) through hundreds of individuals to end up in your cheek cells and on the tip of a swab.  Everyone’s mtDNA is the product of an amazingly rich story that has largely been lost to history.

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Large-Scale Genetic Genealogy Privacy Concerns

thegeneticgenealogist1 I’ve been working on a presentation regarding the future of genetic genealogy, and one aspect of that future is the ability to trace DNA (SNPs, mutations, haplogroups, etc…) through recent history as the result of combining extensive genomic sequencing with massive family tree information.  Although the ability to do this will have many uses (both for genealogy and for personalized medicine), it will also raise a number of privacy issues, as a recent paper suggests.

A New Privacy Study

In “Inferential Genotyping of Y Chromosomes in Latter-Day Saints Founders and Comparison to Utah Samples in the HapMap Project,” author Jane Gitschier uses a combination of FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org) and Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (http://www.smgf.org/) to elucidate the Y-chromosome signature of two founders of the LDS Church.  Gitschier then used that information to determine whether anyone who contributed DNA to the HapMap project was related to these individuals via the Y-chromosome (none appeared to be).  However, Gitschier was able to predict the surname of many of the HapMap participants using these databases.

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Could You be a Chief Genealogy Officer?

As announced by Mark Tucker at ThinkGenealogy and Shelly Talalay Dardashti at Tracing the Tribe, CEO of FamilyLink.com Paul Allen tweeted the following yesterday:

“Starting job description for ‘chief genealogy officer’ who will help manage GenSeek–directory of all the world’s genealogy sources.”

You can learn more about GenSeek – a comprehensive genealogy website including the Family History Catalog 2.0 – at “What is this GenSeek of which you Speak?” from ThinkGenealogy.

This is an interesting development and suggests that innovative developments in genealogy are continuing and that they can be profitable (for instance, see Geni.com’s latest round of VC).  In the past few months, FamilyLink.com, Inc. has hired a new a new president (Steve Nickle), vice president (Jim Erickson), and chief technology officer (Allan Carroll).

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The Genea-Bloggers Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt #1

I don’t often post pure genealogy on this blog, but I thought I would take a break from genetic genealogy and join in on the Genea-Bloggers Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt, which was:  “Upload your favorite picture and talk about it on your blog. Answer the who/what/when/where/why of the subject matter and explain why it is your favorite.”

Although it is nearly impossible to pick a single favorite from my extensive photo collection, I chose the following photo as one of my favorites:

Three Generations of the Bettinger Family 2

People (L to R): Frank Bettinger (my great-grandfather), Angeline Taylor Bettinger (my great-great-great-grandmother born in 1815!), Ward Bettinger (my great-great-uncle), Melissa Albro Bettinger (my great-great-grandmother), Edgar Bettinger (my great-great-grandfather), and George Bettinger (my first cousin three times removed).  Unfortunately, I never met anyone in this photo, although I’ve heard a great deal about them.

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Using Genetic Genealogy to Solve the Mystery of Benjaman Kyle

Bkcleanshaven I recently wrote about using genetic genealogy to potentially identify a male’s unknown surname.  Although I had in mind using DNA to find an adopted male’s biological surname, the method has numerous other applications.  For instance, it can be used in an attempt to identify the surname of a male who has forgotten his biological surname.

A Mystery Man

Just before 7 a.m. on August 31, 2004, an adult male was found lying next to a dumpster behind a Burger King in Richmond Hill, Georgia.  He was naked, beaten, sunburned, and covered in bites from fire ants.  Benjaman Kyle, as he has decided to call himself (note the BK connection), eventually recovered from his physical ailments but was unable to remember anything about himself or his past.  To this day, he cannot remember anything, although he claims to have vague memories or affiliations for certain things.  For example, he appears to have some background knowledge of restaurant equipment and design.  Surprisingly, he does not match any known missing person report, and no one has come forward with knowledge of his identity, despite considerable media coverage.  For more background information about Benjaman Kyle, see “A Real Live Nobody” in SavannahNow.

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RootsTelevision Turns Two

Yesterday, RootsTelevision.com celebrated its two-year birthday.  RootsTelevision was created by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak and Marcy Brown in 2006, and currently contains programs in 25 different channels!  You can read more about the site and about its creation at Megan’s Roots World.

You might remember that a few weeks ago I was interviewed by Dick Eastman for RootsTelevision.com, which was a terrific experience.  And don’t forget, you can stay up-to-date on RootsTelevision.com’s DNA Channel right here at The Genetic Genealogist!

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The Summer 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games

I’ve decided to join the 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games (see here for more info).  I’m a little late, but the organizers have decided to allow entrants until tonight at 9:00pm PDT.  The Opening Ceremonies were held on Friday.  I’m hoping to put a genetic genealogy twist on my entries, if possible, to highlight how genetics can augment traditional genealogical research.

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The categories I plan to participate in are:

  • Back Up Your Data!
    • A. Prepare a comprehensive backup plan for your digital research files and a security plan for your hard copies and photos
    • C. Backup all your data using a flash drive, an external drive, CDs, DVDs, or an online resource
    • E. All your data is backed up digitally and secured physically and you can recover from any disaster while losing only one month or less worth of research

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