Saturday, June 21, 2008

DNA Tribes Turkey

Monday will be Husband's birthday. I prepared for this a couple of months ago by investing big bucks in a DNA cheek swab through DNA Tribes. What a loser.

How interesting this would be, we thought. Husband had done the same for me for Christmas, and we had been fascinated that my Eastern European heritage was confirmed in spades--I'm a Belaruska kind of gal. Now it was his turn.

In their later years, his parents had exhaustively documented the family heritage in three thick spiral-bound books. His blond, blue-eyed father's background was mostly British Isles, but no royal secrets revealed here: the founder of the American branch of the family, as the story goes, had been a Lancastershire innkeeper who fled England after accidentally whacking one of his guests. Husband's dark-haired, dark-eyed mother's background was more varied and included a Mayflower ancestor as well as a Cherokee maiden (at a suitable generational distance).

Husband and I, being of a new age, were interested in more scientific information. Thus we participated in the National Geographic genome project, and Husband's male ancestral wanderings were traced to Western Europe, specifically the Celtic areas. However, because the Project tests only male lines for males (and female lines for females), and because his mother and sister are both dead, his maternal line could not be traced. Enter DNA Tribes.

I was excited about a month later when I received a message that that Husband's results were being forwarded to me by e-mail that very day. I printed them immediately, planning to present them to Husband in a nice three-ring binder, as he had done mine.

Shock. Laughter. The results showed him as almost completely TURKISH in origin--ON BOTH SIDES! I knew there had been some mistake and thought it was probably our fault. We had misplaced the special inner envelope we were supposed to put the swabs in and just mailed them wrapped in a fold of cardboard that had been included in the kit. Someone had handled the cardboard before us or after us, perhaps in opening the mailing envelope, I theorized. I e-mailed DNA Tribes , explaining the problem along with my theory. I was angling for a free re-test, but expected a notification that since the error was our fault, we'd have to fork over another testing fee.

The reply was immediate but pithy and smelled of the boiler-plate. Basically it said that Husband's results were accurate and that DNA genetics are deep background and thus do not reflect modern allegiances. It also implied that people often have unpleasant surprises in their genetic heritages.

Granted, we all probably have more variation in our genetics than family genealogies admit, but Turkish is scarcely a family scandal. However, 98 percent Turkish on both sides, no matter how many centuries removed, is more hilarious than anything else. And, for us, useless.

Happy birthday, honey. I've ordered you a nice chocolate cake and we're going out to dinner.

1 comment:

Katie said...

I don't see what is inaccurate about this? it's deep ancestry and autosomal - based on 510 or more of his ancestors unlike y/mtdna testing.

Not only did those turkic tribes get around,but the founders of ancient greece were recently found to be anatolian which is in Turkey.
Most people complain about Dna tribes without delving into pre-history.