In a previous post I explained about our family mitochondrial or mt-DNA and the haplogroup many of us belong to. The mt-DNA tells us about our mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s … origins. Today I will share a little bit about our y-DNA haplogroup. The Y chromosome is passed from father to son, to son, to son, to son … and it mutates very slow over time. So, our y haplogroup tells us about our ancient male origins. All the men in the Stevens family, their sons, their grandsons, and so forth will share the same y chromosome. And it takes us thousands of year into the past.
Our Stevens’ Y chromosome is haplogroup R1b. Oh how boringly common. The R haplogroup is the most common in all of Europe! We descend from the same ancient male that the majority of other European men do. I am oh so jealous of the people with uncommon haplogroups that are able to learn a great deal about their ancient migration routes. But nothing exciting for us since just plain old European. Well, maybe there is something of interest now that I think about it. R is one of the youngest haplogroups in the human male family tree. How did the youngest become so abundant? The scientific explanation is that they were “very fit”. In layman’s terms – they bred like rabbits
Y-DNA can also tell us about things a bit more closer to home. It can be used to verify the surnames of men. Since y-DNA is passed from father to son the same way a surname is, y-DNA follows the surname back in time about 500 years or so in many European cultures. Surnames are a recent human invention so we are limited to modern times. Most non-European cultures have different naming practices so this does not help non-Europeans.
Whose your daddy? Y-DNA testing can be used to determine paternity. But I need to stress the home test used for genetic genealogy can not be used in a court of law because there is no chain of evidence. It is just your word that you are the one who spit in the tube or swabbed your cheek. However, the results are still valid and useful. Y-DNA testing has become very popular with male adoptees and other folks who have reason to question the identity of their fathers.
I am pleased to report that is no question of paternity with our Stevens family. We match a whole lot of other guys with the same surname. We also match many men who have their family tree extended back to the 1600s and they have the exact same results as I have. A feather in my cap, since it tends to prove I didn’t goof up anywhere in my research
Test kits went out (thanks to a huge sale) before Christmas to 3 more cousins; R M, P H, and our first male cousin T S. Two of the kits have been returned and are now being processed. The kit for P H has not made it back to the lab yet. Hope she didn’t change her mind.