David Brooks on deference for incompetent authority in the wake of Ebola fear
What's a Billion?

2.7 Percent

By Jonathan B. Wight

2.7 percent – that’s the amount of Neanderthal DNA in my genes, according to the DNA ancestry service 23andMe.

I’m hardly alone.  My DNA share puts me in the 43rd percentile for Neanderthal genes, which is about in the middle.

So!—no more insensitive jokes about Neanderthals, please! We have met the Neander, and he is me.  My bulky shape and big nose fit that profile, but I hate cold weather and N’s were supposedly well equipped to handle the Northern European climate. Neandertal-range-map

I was somewhat disappointed to learn that almost all my DNA comes from Northern Europe, mostly German and English.  I could have told them that! 

I was hoping to find some exotic genes from Persia or the Far East.  What good is a DNA scan if it only tells you what you already know?

We do know that all of our homo sapiens ancient ancestors came out of East Africa: we were a tiny homogenous tribe before we scattered to the winds and grew apart in language, culture, and wealth.

According to the report I received, Meryl Streep is a distant relation on my mother’s German side of things.

I've received 6 emails now from other people in the system seeking to connect with me as a third or fourth cousin.  The DNA project will hopefully bring people together, finding surprising areas of common ancestry and increasing empathy and toleration.  We'll see!


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