Analysis of an African-American man’s Y-chromosome shows that the most recent common ancestor of all humans with a Y-chromosome (men) lived in Africa about 338,000 years ago. Previously known modern human fossil records “only” go back about 200,000 years. The South Carolina man’s DNA was a match for 11 men in west Cameroon in Africa.
The University of Arizona geneticists made the discovery after a South Carolina man submitted his DNA to the National Geographic Genographic Project. His DNA was eventually passed on to another company Family Tree DNA where it was analyzed by the University of Arizona researchers who discovered the ancient link. The results have been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Michael Hammer, University of Arizona researcher, cautions that although this is an important discovery it is not proof of an “original man,” the idea that all of humanity came from one pair of humans. “It is a misconception that the genealogy of a single genetic region reflects population divergence. Instead, our results suggest that there are pockets of genetically isolated communities that together preserve a great deal of human diversity,” said Hammer in a statement.
Many African-Americans who are interested in family tree research have turned to DNA companies to find out more genealogical information because paper trails tend to dry up in the 19th century for those with enslaved ancestors. “There has been a lot of hype with people trying to trace their Y chromosome to different tribes, but this individual from South Carolina can say he did it,” noted Hammer.
Have you ever taken a DNA test to discover more about your lineage?
Demetria Irwin is a New York City-based freelance writer/editor. Follow her on Twitter, @Love_Is_Dope.