I’ve explored my heritage thanks to the forty plus years of hard work that my aunt in British Columbia  (my sister and I travelled in the UK retracing our family history with her “road map”) has put in tracing our maternal family tree, and I am a participant in the Genographic Project, and CRIgenetics studies. The analysis of my DNA with Genographic Project tells an interesting story and not one I would have ever thought possible. I’m just over 80% Mediterranean (Greece, Turkey, Egypt) and Northern European (Uk, France, Germany, Russia) split evenly between the two, with about 16% Southwest Asian (Tajikistan, Iran, & India), and 2% Northwest Asian (Han Chinese).  Out of more than a million participants in the National Geographic study I share my results with just 1% and 4% along my maternal and paternal haplogroups respectively-that to me too is astonishing. I’m also 2.4% Denisovan (average 2.1%), and 1.5% Neanderthal (average 2.1%). I always knew I wasn’t a neanderthal, lol!     

I also did my genetics with CRIgentics and the results corroborate the work of National Geographic. My Paternal Haplogroup is R. Haplogroup R were paleolithic mammoth hunters that appeared on the planet 26,500-19,000 years ago. They roamed across Siberia and parts of Eastern Europe during the paleolithic period. Haplogroup R branched off from R1a1 (my Haplogroup with the Geographic Project and not R1b) during or soon after the Last Ice Age. My branch of Haplogroup R is the Indo-Iranian Branch. This group originated east of the Ural Mountains and were pastoralist nomads. Through multiple migrations navigating the Hindu Kush this Haplogroup resulted in high R frequencies in Southern Central Asia, Iran, and the Indian subcontinent. If you follow the progressive movements of my various haplogroups out of Africa where they travelled from Cameroon, to Chad, to Niger, North to Libya, back South to Malawi, North to Ethiopia before finally heading West to Iraq, India, Pakistan, Burma, Guangzhou area of China, Hefei area of China, back East again to the Uzebekistan and Turkmenistan border region, and finally into Iran approximately in the 1700s BCE. Haplogroup R contributed to the diffusion of lighter skin tone and hair colour. The light skin allele is found in around 15-30% of various ethnic groups in the Northern Sub-Saharan Africa. Blond hair was another trait associated the Indo-Europeans. The genes for blond hair are correlated with the distribution of Haplogroup R. Funny story, when I was at university and returned from my summer jobs everyone thought I had always dyed my hair blond. I simply “bleached out” big time in the summer sun.

Haplogroup H2a is my mother’s group and the Y chromosome I passed onto my daughters. Haplogroup H2a is believed to have formed close to 19,000 years ago in either Central Asia or Eastern Europe. Maternal lineages of this Haplogroup are found today in Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Poland, and Croatia. It is also represented more in smaller frequencies in Finland, Denmark, Belgium, and Northern Ireland. Starting in Kenya, my mothers path travelled  North to Sudan, North again to Armenia, South to Iran, then  to Saudi Arabia, North to Turkey, West to Kasmir region in India, North to Russia in the Barnaul region, and finally to the Ukraine where Haplogroup H2a originated. All of this is so fascinating and really challenges one’s preconceptions of who we are. I wish everyone could do what I’ve done and could have their noggin jarred as I have.The items in the photograph speak to my Scottish heritage on my dad’s side of the family from the Isle of Lewis, the Morrisons, and from just south of St Andrews-the Home of Golf, the Blyths. I loved Scotland when I was there in 2014, it’s so rugged, wild, and raw. 

In closing, I just feel compelled to say that I find it so very interesting to learn where we came from, and how and approximately when my ancestors made their way to the British Isles. To realize that we truly are brothers and sisters sharing this amazing planet and that we have more in common with our fellow humans than not.  My hope for our species is that we come together for the good of all mankind and work to build a better world free of war, poverty, greed, and genocide. I know that’s a tall order but you have to have hope. To lose hope means to lose the gift of life we’ve been given. During the Covid-19 pandemic please stay safe everyone!       

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