When you envision your family tree, what do you see?
The majority of you probably see a strong hardwood column that reaches to the sky, and whose limbs spread in all directions. You see leaves, twigs, trunk, and bark. Supported on the branches you’ll find your ancestors, along with names, faces, and dates, telling you from whence you came.
But instead of just seeing your family tree from the outside only, Record Click welcomes you to start looking at the inside of your family tree. Look inside to see the sap that runs through its veins, the xylem, the cambium, the phloem, and finally its heartwood. Don’t forget the roots. This inner vision of your family tree gives you a more realistic and holistic view of your ancestry.
Since we are not capable of X-ray vision, the best way to understand the insides of our family tree is through the science of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which has been around since the mid-1800s when Gregor Johann Mendel, an Austrian monk, experimented with pea pods. At the same time, Charles Darwin was embarking on his journey aboard the Beagle to develop his theory of heredity. Neither of them knew anything about DNA, let alone genetic ancestry. For more information on Mendel and Darwin, see Record Click’s blog “Population Genetics – Evolution, Natural Selection, and Genetics Come Full Circle.”
There have been a number of DNA milestones since Mendel and Darwin paved the way for hundreds of scientists around the world to embark on their own journeys to discover the secrets of DNA. Thomas Hunt Morgan published his Chromosome Theory of Inheritance in 1915. The term “DNA” first came into use in 1944. The molecular structure of DNA, also known as the double helix or DNA helix, was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953.
The world of DNA profiling – also known as DNA testing, DNA typing, or DNA fingerprinting – was ushered in by British geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys in the 1980s. Forensic scientists began to use DNA profiling for identification purposes, especially in the area of law enforcement. From murder cases to paternity and immigration cases, DNA testing is also used to discover hereditary diseases, and is considered a main tool used in forensic genealogy.
The Human Genome Project (HGP) ran between 1990 and 2003, and has fueled an interest in genealogy DNA testing for family tree researchers who want to take a deeper dive into their ancestry. The primary goal of the HGP was to determine the sequence of chemical base pairs that make up DNA – in other words, to understand the genetic makeup of the human species.
Which brings us back to your family tree. Just as you need to know the botanical parts to identify a tree, you need to know the basic facts of DNA to understand your family tree. In addition to the trunk and crown, you now have additional parts of your tree that are important to study and discover. Thanks to the advances in family tree DNA, you can find the answers to complex genealogy questions; trace your ancestry on your direct paternal line (Y-DNA); trace your ancestry maternal line (mitochondrial or mtDNA); search for relative connections along any branch of your family tree (autosomal or auDNA testing); reveal the ethnic proportions of your ancestry; discover the history of your ancient human migration; help determine your ancestral homeland; discover your living relatives; and confirm your existing research.
Whether you are hoping to solve a complex genealogical problem or a family mystery, if you have questions about an adoption, or are just curious to know the ancestry and ethnicity of your family, there’s a good chance that family tree DNA will answer those questions. Contact Record Click today to help you discover the DNA of your family tree www.recordclick.com.