Friday, 22 February 2019

How does it feel to see your ancestors from more than 400 years ago?

That's the question Henry Louis Gates asked comedian Seth Meyers when shown a family tree with his 8th great-grandfather Andrew Whetham, born c1610 in Burstock, Dorset, England in the most recent episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots. His reply:

 "this whole things gives you an appreciation for people who in the present understand that the future will want to know about the past." 
Whatever that means 😉, he continued by commenting on fixation on the present and "not thinking about what the future's gonna need, and the fact that somebody with this incredibly basic technology created a record that still lives is insane ... it's a miracle."  He was "blown away" by it.

While the episode was entertaining was he told that because of the random nature of DNA inheritance there's a 60% chance he inherited no DNA from that 8th great grandparent?  The graph is from https://gcbias.org/2013/11/11/how-does-your-number-of-genetic-ancestors-grow-back-over-time/.
Also there's perhaps a 10% chance of a false paternity in the chain that links him that far back. Taken together there a 1 in 3 chance Andrew Whetham is Meyers' genetic ancestor.


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