Thursday, December 08, 2005

What secrets does my DNA hold?

I'm sitting on the edge of my seat...

A few weeks ago, I received the DNA testing kit I'd ordered from the National Geographic Society. I scraped the inside of my cheeks with the little scraper-thing, deposited the tip into tiny test tubes, and mailed them off! Now I'm waiting for my DNA code to be received, split and classified.

For those who haven't followed this particular scientific development, there are now all kinds of services you can use to trace your origins and determine your ancestry. And apparently, there are many surprises since our ethnic identity, like so many other things, is basically just a convenient label for much more complex and hard-to-classify mixtures.

My initial motivation was to answer the age-old question: is Michael Melcher secretly Jewish? (I'm Catholic on both sides... or at least that's what they tell me.) Did I have some ancestors who couldn't quite take the heat, so they switched over? Like many Americans, I have only the vaguest idea of my ancestry beyond my grandparents. I have a Mexican line (with a Basque surname) and a German line but am not really sure what-all is going on there. So this is an opportunity I could not pass up!

The National Geographic test takes you WAY back -- apparently all the way to your emigration from Africa, 60,000 to 120,000 years ago. I have no idea how they actually determine this, but I am quite eager for the results!

Stay tuned!